Audience and critics alike will be surprised to find that director Yousry Nasrallah’s upcoming film, "Reem, Mahmoud and Fatima," is not based on a fixed screenplay. The film, which many could describe as unconventional in its approach, traces the day-to-day developments in Egypt during its transitional period, exploring the nation's prospects for realizing the aspirations of its revolutionary youth.
The film is a cross-breed between documentary and drama. While the plot essentially tells a story, it depends heavily on real-life events. The screenplay, co-written by Nasrallah and Omar Shama, will focus on the period stretching from the 19 March constitutional referendum to the eventual presidential elections.
The story centers on five main characters. Reem (Menna Shalaby) is a political activist who works for an advertising agency. As her company launches an awareness campaign, it fakes interviews using paid actors.
Opposed to the company's policy, Reem, a single woman, decides to conduct interviews with real people – some at Tahrir Square – and engage with the public.
The other characters represent different swaths of society. Mahmoud (Bassem Samra) and his wife Fatima (Nahed al-Sebaie) are poor, and struggle to make ends meet. Fidra, an animal rights activist, discovers that even humans have not attained their most basic rights. The fifth character is a political activist (Salwa Mohamed Ali) who works at a non-governmental organization (NGO).
Nasrallah describes the experience of filming the movie as a “nightmare.”
“It’s very difficult to keep up with the rapid developments in the country,” he explains, expressing worry that the film will end up as a documentary devoid of drama, or a drama stripped of life.
Whereas only events that serve the plot will be included in the film, Nasrallah does not dismiss the possibility of adding new characters as political developments take place.
One difficulty in filming the movie is that actors are often required to take part in real protests in Tahrir Square, so as to include spontaneous dialogue. Therefore, when events intensify unexpectedly, Nasrallah has to quickly direct his crew to the scene.
Filming will continue until the presidential elections. Thus far, a budget of LE8 million has been allocated for production.
When discussing his film, Nasrallah insists that it’s not about the revolution. “It’s a film about human beings undergoing change.”
Translated from the Arabic Edition