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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)





Heliopolis (2009) is an indie film made by first-time
director Ahmad Abdalla about the lives of five different characters
living in Cairo's upper class Greek district of Heliopolis. While none
of their lives overlap, they all share the same feelings of loneliness
and stangnancy in contemporary Cairo life. When I met and spoke with
Ahmad at the PSIFF 2010, the first thing I told him was how much I loved
the film. Really, I was annoyed with myself by the midpoint of the story for not
getting it and then found myself crying for its sheer poetry and
sensitivity by the end, praising Ahmad for his mastery. He miraculously
unites five stories, all of them main characters,

a difficult feat for any screenwriter to pull off. When I asked him how
long it took to write and direct the film, he stunned me by protesting he wrote
the script in only two weeks and filmed it all in another two weeks.
Wow! Ahmad, you rule!!!


When I met with the producer of Heliopolis, Sherif Mandour
of Film House Egypt, at this year's Cannes Film Festival, we spoke about
Egyptian film and life in general. He offered me both a Hibiscus tea as
well as a coffee and tasty Egyptian biscuits. He chuckled when I told
him that Ahmad said he'd made Heliopolis in two weeks.
Sherif took Ahmad under his wing years ago to work with him at Film
House Egypt's Studio; until he was ready to direct his first film, Heliopolis,
which apparently took a lot longer than two weeks to film. LOL! How
much time the film took still remains a mystery, but the end result is
the same; it's a triumph. Either way, I loved the film and anxiously
anitcipate the next. 

Cairo Exit (2010) is Film House Egypt's next film just
having finished post-production and Sherif is now gearing up to begin
shooting a new film in September called A Girl Story (2011/12).


See film trailer here:

Photo stills of cast from Heliopolis (2009)



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