Who was Bahiga Hafez? Google Doodle pays tribute to pioneering Egyptian actress and filmmaker

The star was born in Alexandria 112 years ago

Egyptian actress, producer, writer and filmmaker Bahiga Hafez was born 112 years ago on August 4. Courtesy Google
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Celebrated Egyptian actress, writer and filmmaker Bahiga Hafez has been immortalised by a regional artist to celebrate what would have been the cinema legend's 112th birthday.

Google dedicated its Tuesday, August 4, doodle to the pioneering screen star.

The portrait was captured by Cairo illustrator Mariam ElReweny, in homage to her countrywoman, who was born in 1908. The doodle appears only to those on Google in the GCC, Lebanon, Iraq and North Africa.

Who was Bahiga Hafez?

The Alexandria-born actress was one of Egyptian cinema's first multi-hyphenate stars.

Hafez also worked as a screenwriter, composer, director, editor and producer, and earned a degree in music composition in Paris in 1930, before moving to Cairo.

The year she finished her degree marked the release of her debut album, as well as her emergence in cinema: she was cast as a lead in 1930 silent drama Zeinab.

The then-22-year-old actress played the titular role in the Mohammad Karim-directed film, portraying a woman who is torn away from her love by her family.

Bahiga Hafez in 1930's 'Zeinab'. IMDB
Bahiga Hafez in 1930's 'Zeinab'. IMDB

Hafez also composed the soundtrack for the romance, and the film was re-released in 1935 as a "talkie", with dialogue added.

In 1932, the groundbreaking star established her own production company, the Fanar Film Company. Founded with her husband Mahmoud Hamdi, Fanar Films produced the silent film Al-Dahaya (The Victims) the same year.

Hafez played the lead role in the movie, and acted as co-director, producer, editor, costume designer and composer.

Her first solo directorial work was Layla al-Badawiyya (Laila the Bedouin), which was released in 1944, and she went on to produce a number of films under the banner of Fanar.

"Her work helped pave the way for the start of what is widely considered Egyptian cinema’s golden age in the 1940s, and she is depicted in the doodle artwork wearing a costume inspired by the many opulent wardrobes she designed from this era of film," Google says of the star in a statement.

She also appeared in Salaḥ Abu Seif's 1966 drama Cairo 30, making a cameo as a princess.

Hafez died in Cairo in December 1983 at the age of 75.

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