LOS ANGELES, Nov 17, (RTRS): Amr Waked is Egypt’s biggest international star, seen most recently playing the French cop in Luc Besson’s “Lucy” and as Yusof, the Khan’s Vice Regent, in Netflix TV series “Marco Polo.” He is also a producer of Arab films, including political drama “Winter of Discontent,” set against the backdrop of the Tahrir Square protests. Waked spoke to Variety about his reflections regarding the Paris terrorist attacks.
Question: Aside from the shock, what are some of your reactions and thoughts about the terrorism in Paris?
Answer: Terrorism tries to collapse societies through threats that destroy confiAnswer: dence and courage and faith in the social fabric. And they use hate as part of their scheme to make societies not just hurt, but also self-implode. The most important thing we should be focusing on is not to cave in against fear and hate. We have much more love, and are far braver than people who are snatching an opportunity to kill civilians who have nothing to do with any conflict whatsoever.
Q: Does this kind of climate affect what you do as an Arab actor?
A: Of course it does. It affects the types of roles you get offered. It signals that I might be getting more terrorist roles, while instead I want to be playing more ordinary Muslim characters. This is what we need to put at the frontline of the mediA: that the vast overwhelming majority of Arabs are normal, and are fighting with all of you for the same cause.
Q: As a producer, you have been active in delving into the roots of political violence in Egypt. Do you feel that there is something that can be done about the type of violence we saw most recently in Paris?
A: It’s very difficult for me to know how to stop this. But If we could manage to create an environment of true justice in the Middle East, with all its cases of injustice and conflict, I think that would be the solution. I’m not trying to blame anyone, I’m just trying to find a reason. I see plenty of desperate people in the Middle East.
Q: Can you elaborate a little on that?
A: Whether it’s within the Arab world or the invasion of parts of Palestine, or revolutions, or the Sunni against Shia conflict within Muslims, all of these I think stem from a systematic injustice that generates so many difficulties and harm to citizens that they go and take risks that get them killed.
Q: So these factors are at the root of the problem?
A: I really don’t know what the reason is. It’s a very complex situation. I don’t know what the real true motivations of these terrorists are. I find it very difficult to understand and comprehend. How is anyone winning like this? I’m just looking at the human motivations that I search for as an actor. But I can’t find them!
The Dubai Film Festival’s recently re-instated Dubai Film Connection has announced twelve Arab film projects that have made the cut to tap into the funding and networking opportunities provided by what is the only bona-fide co-production platform in the Middle East.
Half the selected Arab directors are women, which speaks volumes about the outstanding female empowerment of filmmakers in the region. Many of the directors with projects on display are well-known on the international festival circuit.
These include pluriprized Palestinian auteur Annemarie Jacir (“When I Saw You,” “Salt of This Sea”) who will be talking up her next feature, the Nazareth-set dark comedy “Wajib”; Morocco’s barrier-breaking Narjiss Nejjar (“Cry No More”) who will present three-part romancer “A Step Behind the Sun”; British-based Iraqi filmmaker Koutaiba Al-Janabi, whose drama “Daoud” is set during the Iran/Iraq war; and Egypt’s Hala Lotfy, whose Cairo-set debut “Coming Forth By Day” made a splash in 2012, and now has sophomore drama “The Bridge” in the works.
Here is the complete list of projects vying to secure support at this year’s Dubai Film Connection:
A Step Behind the Sun – Narjiss Nejjar, Morocco; Amal – Mohamed Siam, Egypt; Daoud’s Winter – Koutaiba Al-Janabi, Iraq; Ibrahim – Lina Alabed, Jordan; My Favourite Fabric – Gayaneh Jiji, Syria; Papion on Top of the Water Tank – Yahya Alabdallah, Jordan.