Screening: Women's Visions: A Festival Across Genres and Traditions: Wahed-Sefr (One-Zero) by Kamla Abou Zekry

Tue, December 15, 2009 7:00 pm at Tribeca Cinemas

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Wahed-Sefr (One-Zero) by Kamla Abou Zekry, Egypt, 2009, Arabic with English ST

Tickets: $10. To purchase tickets, click here

Few ensemble films are as well conceived and executed as Kamla Abou Zekry's One-Zero. Set in Cairo on the eve of an important soccer match, Mariam Naoum's nuanced script exposes the compromises and pretensions necessary to negotiate the class, religion and gender mine-fields of contemporary Egyptian life. Featured at the competition of the 2009 Venice Film Festival, One-Zero, is still generating a buzz more than six months after its release. One-Zero has the kind of independent credentials that side steps uninformed expectations of Arab cinema and goes on to do respectably well in world-wide art houses.

In structure and tone, the film nods to world independent cinema - the ensemble films of Paul Thomas Anderson and the Danish dogma school of Lars von Trier - yet retains its organic flavor, proving the versatility and talent brewing in the region. An opening variety show introduces the characters in Cairo's bustling metropolis and is brought thrillingly to life in this kaleidoscopic drama which sees multiple characters hurtling towards each other with refreshing twists. Portraits of unhappy relationships in Cairo that are fast-paced, close-up and buzzing with a snappy soundtrack, revolve around each other and inadvertently intersect.

All the action takes place in a single day of interwoven stories. A veiled young nurse (Nelly Karim) earns a meager income making house calls, while her beautiful sister Nina (convincingly played by young actress Zeina Entessar), vying to become a sexy pop singer, goes on a TV show where the host Sherif (Khaled Abol Naga) cruelly humiliates her. Nevine (Elham Shahin) is a wealthy Christian, middle-aged woman struggling with thw Coptic church for the right to remarry, surprisingly, she is the lover of the same handsome young TV host Sherif, who brutally abandons her when she discovers she's pregnant. Hoda is an outspoken beautician perennially at odds with her hairdresser son (Ahmed El Fishawy) and her own travails. The stories, skillfully knitted by editor Mona Rabie, climax at a big soccer game, with all the country watching.

The frantic celebrations following the victory 1:0 that block traffic in the street mask but do not erase all the drama that is unfolding. The narrative of One-Zero is clearly a vision that attempts to assert itself on an equal footing with, even counter to the predominantly patriarchal and nationalist narrative that presumably brings the nation together all the while ignoring the daily hardships of its ensemble cast. Recent events over the soccer game between Egypt and Algeria come to mind.

Much should also be made of the largely female cast and crew: director, scriptwriter, director of photography and editor. Director Kamla Abu Zekry has unquestionably passed a milestone with this, her fourth feature, and screenwriter Mariam Naoum, with her first screenplay, displays incredible subtlety and intellectual acumen. Mona Rabie's editing successfully juggles the multiple strands without losing any threads of the montage of characters. The film's rhythm and flow rarely falter in the cinematography of Nancy Abdel Fattah who incorporates handheld camerawork without fetishizing it and captures the mixture of Cairo's chaos and breathing spaces with measured tempo.

Cast: Ilham Shaheen, Nelly Karim, Khaled Abol Naga, Ahmed El Fishawy, Zeina Entessar, Lotfi Labib, Hussein El-Imam, Kamel Ashraf, Aida Riyad, Adel Amr, Tamer Magdy, Omar El Saeed, Rasha Nabil, Mohamed Alaa.

Screenwriter: Mariam Naoum
Executive producer: Aly Meselhy
Producer: Mamdouh El Leithy
Director of photography: Nancy Abdel Fattah
Production designer: Amir Abd El-Aaty
Music: Khaled Shukri
Costumes: Dalia Youssef
Editor: Mona Rabi
Sales Agent: Cinema Sector - Egyptian Media Production City

Filmography of Director Kamla Abu Zekry

Wahed Safir (2009) [Director] aka One Zero
An el ashq wel hawa (2006) [Director] aka Of Love and Passion
Malek wa ketaba (2005) [Director] aka Heads & Tails
Sana oula nasb (2004) [Director] aka First Year Con
Hello America (2000) [Co-Director)

Last updated: 2009-12-04 21:44:13

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