On the face of it, Egyptian filmmaker Ayten Amin’s film Souad appears fairly straightforward: it follows the everyday lives of two sisters in a small town outside Cairo and the clash between their online identities and those they present within the reserved and conservative culture in their Muslim community.
However, as the writer-director explained to us, there is far more being dealt with by the social-realist film, particularly how the disconnection between the digital and real lives of young people can lead to tragic consequences. With handheld camerawork and incredibly naturalistic performances from non-actors, her understated yet precisely captured film allows audiences to be immersed into hitherto unseen lives of teenage girls living on the margins of Egypt’s capital, and experience firsthand the impact social media can have when it doesn’t match up with reality.
After being met with praise at both the Cannes and Berlin festivals, the film is now being shown in select UK cinemas.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Amin over Zoom during the Berlin Film Festival about how the story was drawn from a real-life event in her childhood when her classmate’s sister committed suicide, the importance of representing characters not normally seen on the big screen, and the what the movie’s success on the festival circuit means to her.
By Sarah Bradbury. First published on The Upcoming on 27th August 2021.
Souad is released nationwide on 27th August 2021.
Watch the trailer for Souad here: