BFI announces new film release in UK/Ireland cinemas 27 Aug
BFI Distribution announces the release of new feature film SOUAD in cinemas inthe UK and Ireland on 27 August. This fresh, contemporary drama set in Egypt, with a young female cast and focus, is directed by Egyptian filmmaker Ayten Amin – her second feature. SOUAD was a Cannes 2020 Official Selection film and was selected for the 2021 Berlin Film Festival. It has its physical World Premiere in competition at the Tribeca Film Festival, New York City, on 12 June.
Souad (Bassant Ahmed) is a 19-year-old who lives with her younger sister Rabab (Basmala Elghaiesh) inZagazig, a small city on Egypt’s Nile Delta. Souad leads a double life; while appearing conservative and wearing her veil among her family and in public, she is obsessed with her image on social media and addicted to her phone. She has secret virtual relationships with men and lies both on and offline about her dull and dutiful reality as she imagines a different kind of life with her ‘boyfriend’ Ahmed (Hussein Ghanem). As Souad’s actual life comes increasingly into conflict with her digital one, she struggles as her ambitions are slowly crushed, until tragedy strikes.
Featuring astonishing performances from a cast of non-professionals and shot verité-style, largely on location in Zagazig and Alexandria, the film acutely examines the contradictions of teenage life in modern Egypt and the challenges of combining traditional values with the fake world on social media.
SOUAD will be the flagship film in BFI Southbank’s September season, The Time is New: Selections from Contemporary Arab Cinema. Curated by Cairo-based Zawya, Egypt’s leading arthouse cinema and distributor, the season will introduce new works and important Arab filmmaker voices to the UK, including a large number of female directors. Zawya’s Youssef Shazli and Alia Ayman are programming films that show the lyricism, humanity and poetry of everyday Arab life.
Prior to the UK-wide release, SOUAD will have its UK premiere on 1 July as the opening film of the SAFAR Film Festival, taking place in London and online from 1-17 July and showcasing both contemporary and classic cinema from the Arab world.
Ayten Amin’s first short film, HER MAN, was selected for the Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival, and subsequently won several national awards. In 2013, her debut feature VILLA 69, received the Special Jury Award for Arab Film at Abu Dhabi Film. She co-directed the documentary TAHRIR 2011: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE POLITICIAN that was selected for the Venice International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and in 2012 was nominated for a Cinema for Peace award, in the documentary category. In 2019 she directed 20 episodes of the hit drama “Saabe’ Gaar” (The SeventhNeighbor), a 70-episode Egyptian TV series.
SOUAD is directed by Ayten Amin and co-written by Mahmoud Ezzat and Ayten Amin. It is an Egyptian-Tunisian-German co-production, produced by Egyptian producer Sameh Awad for Vivid Reels, marking his production debut. Co-producers include Wim Wenders, under his Road Movies banner, Tunisia’s Dora Bouchoucha at Nomadis Images and Egyptian partners Mohamed Hefzy for Cairo-based Film Clinic and Mark Lotfy at Alexandria-based Fig Leaf Studio.