“Egyptian actress Faten Hamama died on Saturday at the age of 84,” reports Ahram Online. “She was one of Egypt’s most prominent actresses in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s…. She was chosen the ‘Star of the Century’ at the 2001 Alexandria International Festival, honoring her lifetime of achievement in Egyptian cinema. Hamama married Egyptian film star Omar Sharif in 1955. They co-starred in several movies together and became one of Egypt’s most famous celebrity couples, before divorcing in the mid-1970s.”
She “appeared in almost 100 films and worked with masters of Egypt’s massive film industry, including Youssef Chahine,” notes the AFP.
From Egyptian Streets: “Hamama made her silver screen debut in 1939 when she was only seven years old, and from there, she was on a path to shatter the common depiction of Egyptian women in film as objects—secondary to their male counterparts. Hamama chose to play roles that depicted women as independent and powerful. For example, in Sira Fi Al-Wadi, she played a rich man’s daughter who was a down-to-earth woman that helped the poor. Today, she remains to be regarded as one of the most important and inspiring actresses in the history of Arabic cinema and is commonly known as ‘The Lady of the Arab Cinema.'”
Doha Film Institute – The Lady of the Arabic Screen – Faten Hamama
Update, 1/24: “Ms. Hamama was born on May 27, 1931, in Mansoura, in the Nile Delta,” writes Sam Roberts for the New York Times. “She was 6 when she attended her first film, she recalled, and identified with the star so immediately that when the movie was over she assumed that the audience’s ovation was intended for her. After she won [a] beauty contest [at age 7], her father, a civil servant in the Ministry of Education and a frustrated actor, proudly sent her photo to a movie producer, who cast her in the film A Happy Day. She was paid about $1.40 in today’s dollars. But she was soon in demand by directors for her combination of innocent looks and seductive charm and called ‘Egypt’s Shirley Temple.’ She later starred in, among other films, The Nightingale’s Prayer, The Night of Fatima’s Arrest and I Want a Solution, a powerful feminist drama that contributed to legal reforms that allowed women in Egypt to divorce their husbands.”
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