VARIETY eSHOW DAILY: Egyptian Filmmaker Amr Waked Reflects on Local Film Biz
Egyptian filmmaker Amr Waked is Egypt’s biggest international star, seen most recently in Luc Besson’s “Lucy.” At the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Waked is wearing two hats: he is the producer of director Ibrahim El Batout’s “El Ott,” an organ-trafficking thriller in which he also plays an Egyptian gangster whose daughter is abducted. Waked spoke to Variety’s Nick Vivarelli about “El Ott” and how it reflects the challenges of making movies in Egypt these days. Excerpts:
Q: “El Ott” sees you team up with El Batout again after making “Winter of Discontent,” a very dark drama about the events that led up to the Tahrir Square uprising. This time, the tone is deliberately lighter. Do you agree?
A: Yes, though they are not entirely dissimilar works. After “Winter of Discontent” I wanted to work with Ibrahim again. Just like that film, at its core, “El Ott” is about basic human values, but this time it’s a thriller narrative that carries the movie. But what I like about Ibrahim is that no matter what the genre is, he’s always very concerned with human values and emotions.
Q: “El Ott” revolves around organ trafficking in Egypt, which I believe is thriving because the country’s political upheavals have left a law enforcement gap.
A: Yes, but poverty is, of course, the main cause. We’ve done a documentary about it and we discovered that there is a district in Cairo where, just on one single street, there were 42 people who had sold their kidneys in order to be able to survive financially. We filmed most of “El Ott” in these Cairo slums. And we also used some of the kids from there as actors.
Read Full Q & As at Variety.com