The film “Al Shawq” (The desire) starring controversial Egyptian singer/actress Ruby and actress Sawasan Badr has been screened during the official competition of the International Cairo Film Festival on December 5. Criticism of the film, which is directed by Khaled Al Hajar, has already begun.
The conference that was held after the screening of the film witnessed a very heated debate, despite the absence of Ruby. Some critics revealed that they considered the film to have a good storyline and thought Ruby gave a good performance; others, made some strong negative attacks on the film stating that it lacked any real meaning and the actors gave poor performances that were dull. It was added that the film had repetition of scenes, which indicate that it lacked a strong storyline.
The film was accused by some to be demeaning to the male population in Egypt and that it insinuated that most men in Egypt were weak sexually. The writer of the film, Sayed Rajab, denied such accusations and stated that film focuses on important social issues like poverty that in some cases leads to death.
Sayed added that he admits that society in Egypt and around the Arab world is dominated by males and that is why he intentionally chose a woman for the leading role to prove that power and courage could stem from females.
The events of the film are based in one of the poor neighborhoods in Alexandria Egypt and around the character of ‘Shawq’, who lives with her poor husband and their three children, a boy and two girls. Throughout the film, the son, who is suffering from a disease, dies due to lack of money to treat his illness. The mother then focuses her attention on the two girls and becomes very strict with them in an attempt to protect them from the harsh world. Her overprotection of her daughters leads them to explode. The two girls decide to defy poverty by committing sinful crimes like selling themselves for money, a phenomena that is evident in most poverty stricken societies.