A few weeks ago, yours truly decided to grace a screening at my university of a little gem called “Daughters of Abdelrahman” and let me tell you, I absolutely loved it. When the writer and director of the film, Ziad Abu Hamdan, gave a talk about his inspiration behind the film that left me feeling joyful and proud we have a generation of directors and writers that are making films with strong messages and proudly presenting them. In fact, the film left me so inspired, that I decided to reach out to the actors and interview them.
Scroll down to read Hanan Hillo & Mariam Kamel take on acting in daughters of Abdelrahman:
What was your initial thought on the film after reading the script?
Mariam Basha: Scared, but good scared, I immediately knew this is a film that was going to go places, and that the audience will feel connected to it. It was a big responsibility for me as an actress to deliver my role in the most honest way; I was very excited about this experience.
Hanan Hillo: When I first read the script, I thought it was amazing, a complete and beautiful scenario in its details, and I said to myself that I must be part of this work.
Did you expect it to do this good?
Mariam Basha: I knew it was going to be a huge success, I felt it after my first reading of the script, and after meeting the cast and starting the work together, I was sure that the audience will feel the chemistry that we felt among each other, and that it will reflect on the screen, and make the film even more powerful.
Hanan Hillo: All the time, I had a positive feeling about the movie from the moment I read the script to when I started shooting… It was clear that this movie wasn’t like any other movie. Everyone worked with faith that this work would reach great success, and thank God it did.
Both of your roles in the movie are controversial. Did you ever feel scared about how the Arab world will perceive it?
Mariam Basha: Not really. My community has criticized me since I can remember because I decided to live in a certain way that was different from those around me, I got used to it at an early age, and I always let it be. I do defend myself and my opinions, but I realize that people are different.
I knew that all the characters in “Daughters of Abdelrahman” were going to create an argument among the Arab audiences, and that made me feel good because I believe that art that doesn’t create an argument among its audience is shallow, maybe it is fun to watch, but it doesn`t make you scratch your head.
Hanan Hillo: Usually, if I am convinced of a role, I go for it without fearing or caring about anyone. This is what I learned, and this is what I know. I don’t choose the roles I play based on who the kindest, most beautiful character is I choose them based on how close they are to my heart.
Speaking of how other people received the message, did any comments discourage you, or did you expect what they would say from the beginning?
Mariam Basha: Some comments that I read were a bit harsh, especially those who are not saying their opinion but only trying to hurt the people who have worked on this film, but no, they didn’t discourage me, especially since I was sure of what I`m doing and what I’m presenting to the audience.
Hanan Hillo: Most of the comments I received were sweet and positive, and I laughed at the negative – I don’t care at all.
What kept you going, and will we be seeing anything new from you soon?
Mariam Basha: My love for my work is what keeps me going. I have some theatrical projects coming on the way, and I also have my first short narrative as a producer, a Palestinian short called “Gaza bride 17” by Palestinian director Waseem Khair, which I took part in as one of the production team, the film is now in post-production being prepared to premiere at festivals in summer.
Hanan Hillo: What makes me excited is the reactions from people and the sweet energy that they send me through the messages I receive. I want to thank all those who loved and praised us. You are the reason we continue.
Finally, what’s one world word of advice you could give women in the Arab world right now?
Mariam Basha: I would tell them what I tell myself every day, if you want to see change, you must be the change, take control of your life, be kind and creative, and don’t allow anyone to bring you down, not even your own self.
Hanan Hillo: We are stronger together, support each other and help each other, and do not remain silent about injustice. From the beginning, stop inequity so it does not accumulate.