“If not told, the stories will perish,” says Nadia Kamel, in the trailer of Salata Baladi (Egyptian Salad), her first film, which she has created to mirror her family’s story.
Going through 100 years of mixed marriages, Kamel’s film discusses identity and xenophobia in a story told in 104 minutes. Kamel, who worked as an assistant to renowned Egyptian filmmakers, such as Youssef Chahine and Yosri Nasrallah, was inspired to create the film when she saw her 10 year-old nephew listening to a sermon “reducing the world into Muslims and their enemies”, she says in the film’s trailer.
The trailer shows Nabeel, Nadia’s nephew, walking in a room where Mary, his grandmother, sits in front of old photos, as she starts telling him the story of how she, a Christian Italian, got married to his grandfather, who was a Muslim Egyptian.
Like many Egyptian families, Mary’s experienced multiple immigrations, a few conversions and a few mixed marriages. The family has Egyptian, Italian, Palestinian and Lebanese, along with some Russian, Caucasian, Turk and Spanish roots. His Muslim, Christian and Jewish descendants left Nabeel with “a track record embracing socialism, fascism, communism, nationalism, feminism and pacifism”.
Incorporating footage of visits by Mary and her husband to relatives in Italy, Israel, and Palestine, this documentary tells the story of a remarkable woman who is part Jewish, part Christian, part Muslim. The film attempts to break one of the most “vicious taboos” in modern Egypt and illustrate the family’s efforts “to once more climb the wall that unjustly insists on separating our principles from our humanity”, according to the director’s statement.
The film has won several awards, including the National Film Festival’s Certificate of Merit, Mumbai Film Festival Gloden Conch for Best Long Documentary and Special Prize from the International Critics Jury FIPRESCI, in addition to the San Francisco Arab Film Festival’s Outstanding Documentary Noor Award.
Salata Baladi will be screened on Sunday, 21 September at 6.30pm at Zawya Art House Cinema Address: 4 AbdelHamid Saeed Street, off Talaat Harb- Inside Cinema Odeon