Film: The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni by Rania Stephan

The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni (2011, 68′)

One of the most well-known actresses of her generation, Soad Hosni starred in 82 films from 1959-1991, during the so-called golden age of Egyptian cinema. Given the nickname ‘the Cinderella of Arab Cinema’, on account of her rags-to-riches life story, Hosni came to embody the modern Arab women of the time in all her complexities and paradoxes. In 2001 she committed suicide under mysterious circumstances, on the Edgeware Road in London.

Pieced together exclusively from VHS footage of Egyptian films The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni is constructed as a tragedy in three acts, where the actress tells her fantasised life story in the first person. The film is at once a portrait of Hosni, whose real-life persona was inseparable from her life on screen, as well as a meditation on both the representation of women on screen and the space that cinema occupies in our imaginary. The three disappearances of the film’s title refer to the disappearance of Hosni’s physical body, as well as to the disappearance of a rich era in Egyptian film production, and the phasing out of the VHS tape, once the foremost mode of circulation for such films.

Produced by Joun Films with support from the Arab Fund for Arts & Culture (A.F.A.C.), CNC (France), FIDLAB (France), the Serpentine Gallery (UK) and the Sharjah Art Foundation (U.A.E).

 

Rania Stephan (b.1960) Lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon

Rania Stephan is an artist and filmmaker, working with archival materials and producing experimental documentaries. Her films include Tribe (1993), Attempt at Jealousy (1995) Wastelands (2005), Lebanon/War (2006), Smoke on the water: 7 X El Hermel (2007), DAMAGE, for Gaza “The land of Sad Oranges” (2009), The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni (2011, Memories for A Private Eye #1 (2015), RIOT: 3 Movements (2017), and Threshold (2018). Her work has been screened at MoMA PS1, New York (2012); Home Works, Beirut (2012 & 2015); Marian Goodman Gallery (2014) and is in the collection of MoMA and the Fondation Louis Vuitton.

 

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