Faten Hamamah, the Undisputed Arab Screen Lady
When Faten Hamama was an innocent child, nobody expected a prosperous future for her in the artistic field with all of these achievements at the local and international levels. Nobody even expected that she would be one of the leading figures with the largest number of films she starred in. Faten starred in 96 films and was able to play all types of roles since she was nine years old when she performed her role in the film “Yawm Said” and up until she was forty when she reached her magnificence.
At the age of 13, the renowned Egyptian actress joined the Higher Institute for Drama in 1943 to study the basics of performance and to acquire the knowledge that would help her in her career.
In the fifties, Faten reached the peak of success by starring in top quality fifty films, particularly romances that gained her unchallenged popularity among Arab viewers.
She appeared in Lahn Al Kholoud [Tune of Eternity] movie in which she impersonate the girl who sacrifices her love for the sake of her married lover.
Faten Hamama performed also in a romantic manner in the movie Mawed Maa Al Hayat [a Meeting with Life] in which she impersonated a sick girl who decided to commit suicide to relieve the people around her particularly her father and fiancé.
Faten also met the expectations of her fans in more romances like “Mawed Maa Al Saadeh” [a Meeting with Happiness,] Ayyamna Al Hilwah, [Sweet Days] Mawed Gharam [a Rendezvous.] She ended the fifties with her then her greatest Bayna Al Atlal [At the Ruins of the Past.]
In addition to her romantic roles, the actress starred also in many melodramas and other films in the fifties. She worked during this period with many directors and was one of the first actors and actresses who worked with the celebrated director Youssef Shahin. She cooperated with him in the Baba Amin, House No. 13 and Ibn Al Nil [Son of the Nile] movies.
Faten witnessed during this period all the political and social developments and interacted with them. The Egyptian cinema industry, after the 1952 Revolution, the military coup that overthrew King Farouq and brought to power the socialist Junta rule, witnessed the growing ternd of realism. Faten excelled in her first political movie Ustaza Fatmah. In this film, directed by Fatin Abdulwahhab, the actress stars as a feminist advocating the women rights in her country. She also starred in the political movie Allah Maana [Allah is with us] about the July revolution and then in the movie Ard Assalam [the Land of Peace] about the armed popular resistance in Palestine against the Zionist occupation.
Faten also starred the social movies La Anam [I can’t Sleep] and the Virgin Wife during this period. The most fantastic three films for her at the end of this period were Sayyedat Al Qasr [the Lady of the Mansion,] Bayna Al Atlal and Duaa Al Karawan [Appeal of the Curlew.]
Despite the decrease in the number of films that she starred in the sixties – 13 in total - the Egyptian superstar excelled more during this period. Some of her films during this decade were performed in collaboration with other Arab moviemakers. She took part in the Lebanese-Moroccan movie Remal Min Thahab (Gold Sands) directed by Yousef Shahin and in the American British movie “Cairo” directed by Wolf Rile in 1963. Then she starred the best romantic films such as Nahr Al Hubb [River of Love], based on Tolestoy’s Anna Karnina. She also performed in tragedy films including Al Haram [the Illicit], Al Ietiraf [the Confession] and Lan Aataref [I will never Confess.] Furthermore, she starred in different types of films including the movies Last Night, La Tutfee Al Shams [Do not Extinguish the Sun], La Wakt Lil Hubb [No time for Love] and Al Bab Al Maftouh [the Open Door.]
Faten left Egypt for a while, but she couldn’t stay away for long, so she returned in the seventies and starred in seven films including the romantic movies Al Khyt Al Rafie [the thin thread,] Al Hubb Al Kabeer [the Great Love] and Habibaty [Beloved.] She also starred in social films such as Afwah Wa Araneb [Mouths and Rabbits,] La Azaa Lissayidat [No Conciliation for Ladies,] Emperatouriyyat Mim [M Empire] and Ureedo Hallan [I Need a Solution] which is considered one of her most important and successful movies in the seventies.
Th Egyptian star came to a halt in the eighties but surprised her audience in the early nineties with the movie Yawm Hilo and Yawm Murr [Sweet Day, Bitter Day] that depicted the living conditions of an average Egyptian family. With all of this work, Faten has managed to become a leading figure in the Egyptian and Arab cinema industry who has stepped into internationality.
Faten represented Egypt in many international film festivals and was chosen as a member of some festivals’ juries. She was awarded prizes for many of her films in addition to her winning the first prize at Jakarta festival for her movie the Last Night and the former Soviet Union cinema award in Moscow festival in 1983.
She was also awarded the honorary diploma at Teheran third film festival in 1974 for her movie Al Kayt Al Rafie, the Cinema Authors and Critics Association award in 1975 and Cairo festival award in 1977. She was also given the Lebanese Golden Award and the honorary doctorate degree from the American University of Cairo.
The renowned star was nicknamed by many people as the Arab Screen Lady and the Nile Most Enlightened Woman, the nickname that she likes most -- Albawaba.com