To put it bluntly: these lines are not about addressing the issue of cable – unfounded – led by some directors or critics of the Egyptian cinematographic community who believed they were defending the rights of a blue country that did not appear in Omar El-Zuhairi’s film Feathers. Rather to emphasize a single and brilliant artistic work. A work whose dimensions go beyond space to reach universality.
In this black comedy, which is reminiscent of irrational theater, Omar El-Zuhairi does not draw a portrait of Egypt and its plight, nor does he specifically draw a region, since the audience does not know where to go. It even looks like we’re in No Man’s Land. The director does not make social or political statements. This is by no means his goal, he made clear during an interview at the Gauna Film Festival in October 2021. “I only make movies,” he hammered. The young Egyptian filmmaker portrayed a human drama through a dark and bizarre comedy whose goal is timeless. He was successful for his first feature film in fiction so that the taboo, the clich কিন্তু but transcends boundaries. After winning the Grand Prize at Cannes Critics Week in 2021 and the award for Best Narrative Film at the Gauna Festival, the Feathers have won other awards at various festivals.
Omar El-Zuhairi made a film of pure emotion, served by excellent editing, photography and photography, but also dialogue (so rare and very humble), with only amateur actors and actresses.
A Kafkaesque metamorphosis
The film follows the story of a housewife who is completely under the yoke of her authoritarian husband. Living in grief with two small children and a third child in her arms, she does nothing but repeat the same gestures every day: washing, cleaning, cooking, and serving her husband (among other things, her shiny shoes), anything. Not made. Pronouncing a word or a single word. This deleted and subdued woman, played by Damiana Nassar, who has never acted in a movie before, is alive but without an identity as she bears the name Om Mario (Mario’s mother). So he is only defined by this dignity and does not really live his life. The director enters the character’s skin, with the spine bent, always keeping the gaze down. Scanning her camera, her hand is still hesitant to take money from her husband. Through several scenes where we see hands counting notes, we realize that whoever has the money has power at home or elsewhere. He is the “chief”. This ordinary mother at home looks like a character from Caravaggio. Always seen chiaroscuro, skimming the walls or at a door, or in people, but never in the foreground, you can barely hear. He lives his life (dramatically), but an irrational event will upset his path. When, during her son’s birthday, a magician fails in her magic tricks and fails to bring her husband back into human form, transforming him into a chicken, she has to take matters into her own hands, try to work, sell. He has little business. Now he is in control. Little by little, after taking care of the chickens, as if she is her husband (feeding him, putting him to sleep …), she will regain her freedom and even her identity. He will eventually be free.
Among the feathers, Omar El-Zuhairi discovered man and deciphered how the latter interacted with his environment. A black but funny comedy (“Because laughter is also timeless”, according to the director) that draws references from literary works (Kafka’s metamorphosis) and cinematographic works (Jরrgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster), but above all a work that has its own identity and uniqueness. Recommended tonight at Beirut Souks and if you are in Saidat of Ishbilia at 7pm. Free admission.
To put it bluntly: these lines are not about addressing the issue of cable – unfounded – led by some directors or critics of the Egyptian cinematographic community who believed they were defending the rights of the blue country, not seen in its headlines in Omar El-Zuhairi’s Feeders film, but To emphasize …