Egyptian filmmaker wins top prize at Baghdad Film Festival
Screenshot of short film, "Quietly"

CAIRO: Egyptian director Sarah Mourad won first place in the Arab Women Filmmakers Competition of the Baghdad Film Festival this week with her short film, “Quietly,” tying for first place with “Cry of the Poppy” by Moroccan filmmaker Janane Fatine Mohammadi.

“Quietly,” Mourad’s directorial debut, follows the life of a woman in the first days after she finds out she is pregnant, and decides to have an abortion.

“I don’t think the film is merely about abortion. Abortion was only a tool to show how frustrated the female protagonist is. The relationship between her husband has become so dim that she no longer seeks to accomplish the dream she has always had, and that is having a baby. She is willing to give it up and in a way free herself through giving up the baby,” she told The Cairo Post.

Mourad said she had the idea for the film for “some time,” and when she sat down to write the script with co-writer Mina Nagy they wrote it in three days.

“It was terrifying finally doing it after all those years of wanting to, but I had a great team which made me feel much more confident,” she said, adding that her co-writer and co-editor volunteered their time to complete the film.

Mourad is currently a student of film at Bournemouth University in the U.K., where she is studying film and television directing. As an undergrad at the American University in Cairo, there was no film major available, so she majored in communication and media arts with a minor concentration in theater.

“I loved film in a special way since I was 11, but never knew how films were made at that age or how I could be part of the process until I was 15, specifically after watching ‘Alexandria… Why?’ by Youssef Chahine,” Mourad said. “I was so impressed by it that it got me looking deeply into him as a director, and into film as a process to be part of.”

“Quietly” has been screened at a number of international festivals, and is scheduled to be presented at the Cairo International Women’s Film Festival in November.

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