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A Day for Women: How Kamla Abu Zekri’s film is changing perceptions

A Day for Women explores the lives of strong female characters in a working-class neighborhood in Egypt.

Kamla Abu Zekri’s film Youm Lel Setat (A Day for Women) has been making waves since its first release for providing a glimpse into the lives of women in a small working-class neighborhood in Egypt.

Most recently, it won the Audience Award at the Arab Film Festival Rotterdam. Earlier this month, the film also won the award for Best Screenplay at the Slemani International Film Festival in Iraq, and featured in the Cape Town International Film Festival and the Beirut Film Festival.

The film is written by Hanaa Atiya, and produced by Elham Shahin through her company Shahin Film.

A Day for Women

“A Day for Women” takes place in a working-class neighborhood in Egypt, where the local youth center dedicates a day in the pool for women only.

A Day for Women stars Egyptian actors Elham Shahin, Nelly Karim, Nahed El-Sebaey, Mahmoud Hemeda and Ahmed El-Fishawy.

When a local swimming pool announces that Sunday is a day for women, it becomes a polarizing topic in the neighborhood.

The plot reveals the impact of this ‘women’s day’ on the various residents, including the men, as women from different ages gather at the youth center each week to enjoy the luxury of swimming in a pool.

The pool becomes a safe space for them to share their hopes and dreams, and even a previously shunned character, Shamiya (Elham Sahahin) is accepted into the fold.

Kamla Abu Zekry’s film is a reflection on community, co-existence, and freedom in Egyptian society.

Film festivals as a platform

The Arab Film Festival in Rotterdam is a western platform for Arabic language filmmakers to highlight the region’s biggest cultural and political issues.

The festival has grown over the years as a forum for open dialogue about art, human rights, and political freedom in Arab countries, and for the Arab diaspora in Europe.

Earlier in September,  A Day of Women won the Grand Prize in the African Cinema Festival in Khouribga, Morocco, only a few days after its female stars Nelly Karim, Elham Shahin and Nahed EL Sebai’e shared the best actress award for their performances at the Kazan International Muslim Film Festival taking place in Russia.

The film’s world premiere was at the 60th BFI London Film Festival last year.

It also competed in the official competition of 38th International Film Festival where Nahed El Sebai’e won the Best Actress Award for her role in the film.

The film made its GCC premiere at the 13th Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) in its Arabian Nights programme, along with other international festivals.

Read our review of A Day for Women on 31st October.

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