This was a bit of a “feel good movie” of the official competition at the last Cannes film Festival. Yomeddine tells the story of Beshay, a leper egyptian travel around the country with a child nicknamed Obama (yes, like the former president). The protagonist is played by a real leper with the face destroyed by the disease. We of course think of the Elephant Man of David Lynch. But the parallel stops there. Because Yomeddine, the first film of the filmmaker to 33 years old Abu Bakr Shawky, born in Cairo and a resident of the United States, is a beautiful tale that unfolds over the egyptian roads, without dwelling on the plight of lepers and the Egyptians in general. Interview with the director.
The Point : Why have you chosen a leper as the protagonist of your film ?
“Yomeddine” is the first film of the filmmaker to 33 years old Abu Bakr Shawky, born in Cairo and resident in the United States.
© LOIC VENANCE / AFP Abu Bakr Shawky : I had made 10 years ago a short documentary about a leper colony in Egypt when I was a film student. There were a lot of stories to tell, it was so fascinating that I wanted to make a fiction film. I then wrote the script on the quest of this leper, who leaves the hospice.
How have you chosen to show on the screen your actor who is himself a leper ?
I discovered Rady Gamal who is not an actor in training and I was immediately won over by its energy. In a movie, if you look at a person for a long time, we stop worrying about their appearance. I’ve wanted to do this with the character of Beshay. The spectator beyond his first fear and starts to get used and become attached to the character. My wish was that he forgets the léprosité of the character. The first few minutes, there are no close-ups, but they do not hide. I just wanted to show a human being.
The film Elephant Man de David Lynch you he guided your achievement ?
Absolutely. Elephant Man was a good source of inspiration, especially the way in which it deals with the character : at the end of the film, we love the character despite his physical appearance. Therefore, it is possible to show someone in a distorted and that the public attaches to it. David Lynch has done with the makeup, I’ve done it with a real human being, a true leper.
Is it difficult to film in Egypt ?
It is difficult to film in a very independent, without funding, we’ve done this with the support of the university, NYU and loved ones, completely out of the industry. Many have thought that we were a “couple fou” (the director is in a couple relationship with its producer, editor’s NOTE), that we were wasting our time and made a ” suicide “. We proved that it was possible.
Your protagonist is a christian in a predominantly muslim country…
I wanted to talk about marginalized people, minorities, and give them a face and the word, to evoke the diversity of the population in Egypt. For landscapes, it is the same, I wanted to show an Egypt that is not the one that we see all the time in the movies. A normal country that we discover in the course of the road. Even with the sequence of the Pyramids, I did not want to show the site that tourists go to see, but a pyramid to have been completely abandoned in the middle of the desert that nobody knows.
You tell a beautiful story and does not seek to criticize the reality of egyptian or just…
there is still some criticism of the egyptian bureaucracy. But overall, I really wanted to do a ” feel good movie “. The lepers and the Egyptians take life with a smile and are not there all the time to complain and suffer.