Egyptian screenwriter Wahid Hamed to receive lifetime achievement award at Cairo film festival

The film veteran is known for his cinematic partnership with screen legend Adel Imam

Screenwriter Wahid Hamed will be celebrated at Cairo International Film Festival in November. Instagram
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Veteran screenwriter Wahid Hamed will be honoured at the 42nd Cairo International Film Festival.

The Egyptian, who has penned hits for both the big and small screens, will appear at the  event in November to accept the Golden Pyramid Honorary Award in celebration of his four-decade career.

While announcing the prize, festival director Mohamed Hefzy praised Hamed for elevating the role of the screenwriter within the Egyptian film and television industry.

“Thanks to him, the profession has gained greater splendour and importance,” he said.

Born in 1994, Hamed credits his provocative plots, which often explore the tension inherent within Egyptian society, to his degree in sociology.

Hamed rose to fame in 1978 with Ahlam Alfataa Alttayir (Dreams of the Fugitive Boy). Considered a classic, the taut television drama follows an ex-convict, played by Adel Imam, who hides his loot in a psychiatric ward.

The success of the series heralded one of the most successful partnerships in modern Egyptian cinema, with Hamed's poetic yet gritty dialogue powering plenty of Imam's key performances, including in films Al Ghoul (1983), Al-Erhab wel Kabab (1992) and the 2006 blockbuster adaption of Alaa Al Aswany's novel The Yacoubian Building.

Not only was the latter’s premiere at Berlin Film Festival, it was also, at the time, the most expensive Egyptian film ever made with a budget of $3.5 million (Dh12.8m).

It hasn't always been smooth sailing to the top of the box office for Hamed, however. With his penchant for exploring hot-button issues, his works occasionally raised the ire of Egyptian authorities. The acclaimed 1987 drama Al Baree' (The Innocent) faced a high-profile censorship battle due to its plot of an Egyptian soldier, played by Ahmed Zaki, becoming disillusioned at some of the brutal methods of his comrades.

Hamed courted similar controversy on the small screen when he wrote the two-part drama series Al Gama'a (2010 and 2017), which traced the evolution of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In the 2013 Ramadan drama Bedoun Zikr Asma, meanwhile, he looked at the rise of Islamism in Egypt in the 1980s through the eyes of a young Cairo couple.

Hamed has an anticipated film presently in pre-production. Top Secret retraces the days leading to the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Egyptian action man Ahmed El Sakka has signed on to the film in an undisclosed role.

In a statement on the festival’s website, Hamed said his work has always been inspired by his fellow countrymen.

“I was and still am loyal to the Egyptian street,” he said. “Throughout my journey with writing, the people have inspired me. It’s their ideas that I’ve recreated in my work. That’s why I’m always elated when people tell me they grew up with my films. That’s when I feel that I didn’t slack off and that I really gave people something worthwhile.”

Cairo International Film Festival will run from Thursday, November 19 to Saturday, November 28. Despite the challenges caused by the pandemic, the festival announced in June that it will push on with a physical version with safety measures in place. Details of the line-up will be revealed later in the year.