Neshat talks about her film
05 Dec 2017 - 9:21
Acclaimed visual artiste Shirin Neshat accompanied by actress Neda Rahmanian, talked about her film Looking For Oum Kulthum and of the difficulties she faced in telling the story of the legendary Egyptian singer, whose weekly broadcasts on Radio Cairo were listened to all over the region and who is still known as the ‘Star of the East’.
Neshat explained that the star’s reputation and the complication of seeking to make a film that would resonate in the Middle East, where Oum Kulthum needs no introduction, as well as in the West, where she is still largely unknown, guided her decision not to make a straightforward biopic but rather to create a story within the story through the addition of an Iranian female character, a kind of alter ego, who like Neshat herself is engaged in a search for the star.
“I spent six years preparing this film, I know the story very well. I knew I could not cover her entire life, so I chose to focus on the pivotal moments that related to the story.”
The roundtable of journalists had many questions about the film that touched on different creative decisions, notably the way many scenes had very little dialogue, as well as the reason that Neshat chose Oum Kulthum as a subject and why, as an Iranian director, she chose an Egyptian singer, rather than one from her own country. m“I am a poetic, visual artist and for me, dialogue can sometimes diminish the impact of a scene, so I tried to keep it to a minimum,” she said.
“I wanted to show the West the side of the Middle East they don’t usually see, poetry, singing and culture. As for why I chose Oum Kulthum, it’s because there is no one else of her standing in our region.”