It’s time to reveal another guest and film in this year’s program. We are fortunate to have Mohamed Siam, the man behind the celebrated documentary Amal, as a guest during this year's festival.
The documentary deals with the life of 14-year-old Amal, how her life was affected by the revolution in Egypt and the traumatic events on the Tahrir Square over the next five years.
Seeing these events through the eyes of a young person is very effective and gives the viewer an image of how chaotic the situation in Egypt has been and still is.
”I wanted to make a film about youth, about rage and abut change, all combined” Siam writes to us. After considering several other possible subjects of the film, Amal was chosen as the vantage point for the documentary."
”Working with an adolescent or a child is not easy at all. Amal particularly is very extreme in her attitude and reaction. Our connection was instant and evident to both of us. Amal is a representative of a diverse Egypt that exists today,” Siam continues.
Six years is a long time to shoot a film. Did the form or the content of the film change in any way during that time?
"The form changed, but not the content. Working with Amal when she was 14-17 was very different than when she was 17-20. In the last period the camera and I had to keep a distance and allow her to be more comfortable in order to continue."
What was it like to film in Egypt?
”It was a dangerous and special experience and the same time. But, when you see people die in front of you, you realize how documenting such moments are valuable and worth every risk we had to take in the process.”
Siam views Egypt as a dynamic place where change is inevitable. In his view, it currently seems like the development has stagnated compared to previous years, but Siam is sure that change is right around the corner.
Amal supported by Sørfond and is a co-production between Egypt, Libanon, Germany, France, Denmark, Qatar and Norway. Ingrid Lill Høgtun, from Barentsfilm AS, is Norwegian co-producer.
Read Hollywood Reporters review of Amal here.
About Mohamed Siam
Mohamed Siam is an Egyptian director, producer and photographer and has received several international grants and awards for his movies. His first film, Whose Country, was screened at festivals such as Karlovy Vary, Hot Docs and IDFA, and was distributed internationally. Siam’s first documentary, Amal, won Robert Bosch Film Prize, the AfriDocs Prize at Durban FilmMart and Thessaloniki Docs-In-Progress Award. Amal opened IDFA in 2017 and participated in the competition. At the moment Siam is directing a comedy and another documentary – this time about illegal abortions.
Watch IDFA’s interview with Mohamed Siam here: