The Egyptian director is a regular at the largest international short film festival in Clermont-Ferrand. This year, he presents “Better than Earth” in its world premiere. It’s a story about the taboo of homosexuality in Egypt, crafted with great finesse through well-crafted dialogue and a veritable ballet of exchanged glances.
An interview with a filmmaker who necessarily had to be courageous to make such a film in Cairo. Radwa, a young student, has a date with her boyfriend. From the beginning, it’s clear that she loves men.
The head supervisor of this girls’ university dorm in Cairo gives instructions, even through loudspeakers. At the same time, she complains about her roommate’s strange behavior, Sarah. Radwa feels harassed, and it’s clear that there will be a tragedy.
Yet, you absolutely wanted to make Radwa look guilty. The viewer must feel her sense of guilt at the end of the film. It was crucial to have an actress capable of expressing this feeling of guilt.
She has to convey the feeling that maybe something happened between her and Sarah that we are not aware of. That there might have been more than just the complaint of harassment against her roommate Sarah. Nothing proves it.
Nothing happened. She’s just wearing a t-shirt. And wearing a t-shirt doesn’t mean anything.
My film is mainly about uncertainty. There is uncertainty at different levels. It’s not easy to discuss such subjects in Egypt.
It’s a taboo. We can’t openly and frankly discuss these kinds of subjects in Egypt. With the screenplay, I found a way to tell this story without directly addressing this very sensitive and dangerous subject.
It was essential for me to find a subtle way to tell this story. Once found, I made the film. My producer is in France, I filmed in Egypt, but I was afraid to continue with post-production in Egypt.
I took all the material and did the editing in France and the sound in Sweden. It wasn’t planned, but that’s what happened.