"Looking for Oum Kulthum". At the Venice Film Festival, women's emancipation in the Middle East.


The new job of Iranian director, Shirin Neshat, has its premiere international in Venice today 2017, 2 September.
 The artist, American citizen from long time, was investigating for the last 30 years on the stories of many Muslim women. The famous visual artist comes back this year with the story of Oum Kulthum, the legendary singer of the Arab World. After 42 years from her death, her success is still impressed in the heart of the Egyptians, and not only there. An artist, first a woman, who had to "survive" and be asserted in a conservative and masked society.

Oum Kulthum, as well as her incredible talent, left the mark for her patriotism, courage and style, which made her a heroine and an icon of female emancipation in the Middle East. For this over 4 million people participated in her memorial. This was the second largest funeral in Egyptian history, after the death of Prime Minister Gamal Abd el-Nasser, who disappeared in Cairo on September 28, 1970. Shirin Neshat, already known for "Women Without Men" (2009), offers with "Looking for Oum Kulthum "a not-academic view of Egyptian history of the last century: from monarchy to British colonialism, from the 1952 revolution to the disastrous war with Israel in 1967.
In "a movie in the movie", the director staged three women: Mitra, an ambitious mother and wife forty-year-old who decides to tell her heroine, Oum Kulthum, and Ghada who plays her. The three represent the soul of the film, the dilemma of women in Middle East today dominated by man: "the sacrifice of the traditional family and a tacit sense of alienation due to the absence of a style of conventional life, despite the glory in 'achieve fame and success. "
At Palazzo degli Autori (Palace of Authors), on the Venice seafront just a few steps from the Casino, we asked the director, Shirin Nasharet, what is the relationship with his country of origin: Iran. The art director confessed "I have never come back to my country since 1996, because of the Government's issues".  As well as Mitra, in the film, that she can’t return to the Islamic Republic even to look for her missing son.

 "I am not Arab, because I don’t live there, but generally talking about what I learn from the media, from the Internet and newspapers - she added - there is a huge gap between women and men in the Arab world today, starting from education, to which many women have no access".

Shirin prefers not to talk about politics, but her artistic refinement that draws from the early scenes of the film lets glimpse a great introspective journey and an in-depth search for the life of the Egyptian singer and diva Oum Kulthum.

 It would be nice if the film could inspire Muslim women in hunt of an emancipation and freedom that put an end to the dilemma that affects the three women in the film. Shirin hopes that her work may be of inspiration, as many Muslim activists are following her job, although she recognises that it will be very difficult.