The second part of the triptych “Regard sur le cinéma musical arabe” (a look at Arab musical cinema), Samia forever pays a resounding tribute to the woman who, for more than twenty years, was the “Marilyn Monroe” of Egyptian musicals. Between film extracts, archives and testimonies, the film traces the life of Samia Gamal (1924-1994) who, by becoming a cinema legend, established herself as one of the icons of Oriental dance.
“Perhaps dance was innate in me”, she said. And so it had to be to dedicate one’s life to that art as, while Oriental dance (“raqs al-sharqui”) is a cultural phenomenon as old as it is indisputable, Egyptian society has always stigmatised its dancers. Born in Upper Egypt, Zainab Ibrahim Mahfuz arrived in Cairo with her family in 1932. She worked in a sewing workshop until her father’s death (she was then 16), before meeting Baadia Masabni, the inventor of modern Oriental dance, who would be her mentor. It was in Baadia's troupe where she met Tahia Carioca, her closest rival, that Samia Gamal developed her own style. In 1944, she made the acquaintance of the playboy actor Farid al-Atrash with whom she formed a duo de charme for five years both on the silver screen and in real life. Samia Gamal owes her star status not only to her sensual beauty and the quality of her dance, but also to her romantic woes, at the convergence between her life and her roles.
Artistic direction / Conception : Saïda Boukhemal
Production / Coproduction of the video work : Potlatch production, CNC, TV5 Monde, Cinémathèque de la danse, Groupe OCEI
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