Art & Culture
The Beautiful and Talented YOSRA
By Ghana Harb Conord
December 27, 2011
The Doha Tribeca Film Festival, held in Doha from October 25 – 29, was a true celebration of cinematic art. Among the many notable attendees at this year’s festival was acclaimed Egyptian actress Yosra, who sat down with Today’s Outlook for this one-on-one candid chat.
What was your impression of the 2011 Doha Tribeca Film Festival?
I love to attend the Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF). It’s getting bigger and bigger every year. You find so many people from all over the world, which is really amazing. It’s a wonderful exchange of culture and knowledge. Last year, I was the DTFF jury president for selecting the award winning films, and I worked a lot. This year, I’m just here to support the festival and have a wonderful time.
What do you think of the role the Doha Film Institute is playing in the regional film industry?
I think that the Doha Film Institute (DFI) is doing a lot, and I have to thank the founder, H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa, for her role in making this event such a success. She’s doing so much, on so many levels. The Doha Film Institute helps people to learn more about cinema, and provides students with advantages and opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t have. It creates a platform that piques their interest and channels their innovation and enthusiasm into a deliverable product. This helps them identify and achieve their goals, and makes a big difference in their future.
Production is usually the challenging part of making a film because it is the portion that is most likely to hold us back as artists. These days, in this industry, everyone is concerned about the financial aspects of filmmaking; whether or not the film will realize a decent return on investment. Accordingly, it is very important to understand what the public wants, and be responsive to that. For example, if the public wants a comedy, then delivering a funny film is the surest way to turn a profit on a movie. However, it isn’t always that simple, and the consumer market can be fickle. They want a variety of things, and they of course want the film to be well-made. The whole process then becomes somewhat of a calculated risk. So when you have producers at the Doha Film Institute give you all of the facilities you need to make your dreams in film production come true, then that is truly an amazing thing.
Did you enjoy the opening night movie Black Gold?
I really loved it and was touched by its message. I love these kinds of movies because they are part of my nostalgia about Arabs, about ‘Alf Leila w Leila’, or the golden age of the Arabians. I also loved each of the different personalities in the film. The characters, and the interactions between them, were very captivating and entertaining. It was a beautiful showcase of the dignity and ethics inherent in Islamic and Arab traditions. Everything about the film was grand; even the location where it was premiered (at the Katara open-air theater) was beautiful, with clear skies above and the glittering sea nearby!
Do you think Black Gold will attract an international audience?
I hope so, because it will help people from around the world to understand Arabs in the right way. It is a shame when stereotypes prevail, and Arabs are seen in a less than positive light because the true nature of the culture is not fully portrayed, or has negative connotations. I want international audiences to know that Arabs have a rich culture and history, deep-seeded values and a tradition of ethical qualities that bring honor and distinction to the region. Arabs are born with this. That said, there are many cultural differences, as well as similarities between and among Arabs, so highlighting these is informative and educational to those not familiar with the region. We are not all the same.
What are your upcoming projects?
I have an upcoming project which is not really a comedy or a drama, although it has drama in it. It’s not deep like some typical films that are labeled dramatic. Fortunately, I’ve got a very big and capable crew, and also a large budget to work with. At this point, I’m not sure if this project will make more money than what we invested in it, but we are doing things the right way. I’m also working on a new comedy film. I don’t want to reveal the story yet, but it’s a very well-known script!
Tell us a little about Stephane Rolland, with whom you walked the red carpet.
I love him because he’s my dearest, closest friend! I believe Stephane Rolland is one of the best designers in the world. I cannot emphasize enough what a great friend he is to me. Personally, it’s a real privilege and honor to wear his designs. He knows how to make a woman feel good about herself, through her clothes. He has such a talent when it comes to flattering figures of all dimensions. He can make any figure look good. He’s also very honest. He tells you what looks right, and what doesn’t, and I trust him implicitly for that.
What is your message to our readers?
I want to tell the readers to please support Arab films, and support Arabs in general. Support our need for each other and for embracing our proud history.