By Dua’a Sultan
Cairo – Albawaba.com
From drug Mafias and prostitution rings in the films Al Embrator (The Emperor) and Al Basha, the director Tareq Al Erian has taken a turn towards a simple love story in the film Al Sullam Wal Thuaban (The Ladder and the Snake).
In the film Al Basha, Erian criticized customs and traditions not consistent with our society, but he surprised everybody by directing a film on the American way.
Erian the Al Basha character “is like some one who dances on the ladder, he neither lives in our society, nor does he live in Western society. The characters in Al Sullam Wal Thuaban are original Egyptian characters with Egyptian problems. Matters including befriending a girl and making love with her do not constitute a problem in the US or any other Western society. Relationships between people in these societies are smoother, but we are governed by a different culture, imposing on us fear and reluctance. The fact that we like to hide our problems or that I shouldn’t direct a film about these problems is not my problem.”
The film does not represent the lives of average people because its character represents only a tiny class in society. Erian sees this character as real, despite the fact that most people are not like that.
Although the relations between these characters and their lifestyles may be provocative to large number of people, Erian believes that the film scenes may occur in all circles.
“I do not think that the style of relations I presented in the film were completely liberal. The daughter of a building guard and the son of a laundry man can do more than that, but secretly. This is the storyline for another film I may direct next. But I have directed my latest film about a higher class, and I reiterated that it was their life style. If the audience has to interact with the film, it can interact with a love story from any class of our society,” Erian told Albawaba.com.
The director added, “The film love story has no external influence whether from the family of the girl or the boy. I wanted only to highlight through the story the conflict inside the film star who does not bear any responsibility. All of a sudden he finds himself falling in love, but he leaves his sweetheart for no reason and tries to return to her again. I did not mean that these are conflicts within a certain society.”
The director denies that he attempted to touch any figures from a lower class through the character of Ahmed Hilmi, the star’s friend.
“I selected this character in order to go deep inside my main characters. This is to show the similarities and contradictions in the star personality in particular. So I have chosen a character from another class that has a different way of thinking despite the fact that the two spend most of their time together. Each of them has different objectives. When Ahmed Salameh said at the end of the film, ‘I am not like you,’ I meant to explain the character of Salameh himself rather than to touch a certain class.”
“I did not direct a film to send a message, but to highlight a fact and create a special case. My responsibility is not to explain how people live. I direct a film about a certain class and my proof for that is that my main revenues are generated by Sheraton, Rensans and World Trade Center cinema halls. The higher class go to see my film, because they like it, but the lower class takes no interest in it,” added Erian.
There are films classified as artistic which participate in festivals and other popular ones for the audience at large, but there has never been a classification according to classes as Erian has created.
“The film’s story is not strange to me as it is a story about people whom I know well and live with. When I thought of the film, I never thought of the audience attendance. We in Egypt have class animosity and do not know how to deal with each other. This film is like a BMW car, which someone sees and scratches for no reason but animosity against its owner. Egypt is the only country in which we study about classes because it has variations not only in the social and economic levels but also in cultural levels. This appears as if we lived in many countries and not in one country. We cannot satisfy everybody and the solution is to make a film that can be accepted by a certain class or group. A film is like a commodity, the clients of which are classified when launching an advertisement campaign. Therefore, I have attempted to play on the class close to me,” said Erian
The director added, “I shall play on classes in my next film which will have no connection with love stories. It will be about two characters, one comes from the lowest class and the other from the top class and both meet together.”
Erian does not care to gain the audience sympathy with his film. “I am disgusted by the cinema environment, as all films play with the peoples feelings. There are films that generate millions and you cannot make anything out of them. On the other side, the intellectual people see foreign films that respect their minds without the need to secure their sympathy. I make films that increase the people’s awareness,” added Erian.
Regarding his selection of the film stars, Erian said, “I have not selected them as they are the stars available in Egypt. They are hardly four or five stars moving from one film to another. They have consumed my time and efforts until they appeared in the film the way I wanted them to appear.”
The young director, who has only directed three films, said: “I have signed an agreement for the direction of two other films, which I began gearing up for, but then I apologized for not continuing the work. These films are Al Baghl (The Mule) directed by Majdi Ahmed Ali and Ayyam Al Sadat (Sadat Days) directed by Mohammed Khan. Due to production reasons, I had no control over budgets. I am not good at dealing with producers so I have decided to produce by myself so that nobody will have control over me,” he added.
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