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‘The Brink of Dreams’ Celebrates an All-Female Theater Troupe

‘The Brink of Dreams’ Celebrates an All-Female Theater Troupe

“Are you happily married?” “Were you married off way too young?” “Are girls not allowed to love?” Few people dare to ask similar questions in southern Egypt – except for the all-female street theater troupe in remote Barsha village.

“They surprise their audience, but I clearly remember the first time they surprised me. I thought: ‘How are these girls so free, so eloquent and so daring? In every way?’” recalled Nada Riyadh, who directed “The Brink of Dreams” with Ayman El Amir.

“These young women, brought up in very conservative communities and economically restrictive situations, seemed freer than us. We went: ‘What is happening?!’ Even in Cairo, people don’t confront others like that.”

“With them, it’s always interactive. They are expressing themselves, but they also demand interaction, challenging long-standing traditions,” added El Amir. 

“We are married, so they were asking us about that too. We would answer honestly and even though it’s not in the film, it was a part of our dialogue.”

In the film, Majda, Haidi and Monika have high hopes for the future. They want to be actresses, dancers and singers. But their families have different plans.   

Produced by the directors themselves for Felucca Films, “The Brink of Dreams” was co-produced by Marc Irmer and Claire Chassagne for Dolce Vita Films and Mette-Ann Schepelern for Magma Film. The Party Film Sales handles international sales. 

It took four years to complete the doc, premiering at Cannes’ Critics Week and sharing in exclusivity with Variety its trailer and first look images. 

“It’s always about staying somewhere long enough to blend in. Before that, all your material is basically unusable. We didn’t want to ‘provoke’ anything – we wanted to react,” said Riyadh.   

“In documentaries, you should look at people with love and respect, but you should also be critical. We tried to show different sides and shades, also when it comes to male characters. They can be abusive and controlling, but not all of them – one girl’s father is very supportive. Patriarchy works in different ways. Sometimes it means violence or control, but not always, and we are all affected by it: men and women alike.” 

“Sometimes it even works through love. That’s how you can influence people as well,” added El Amir.  

Currently, the directoraila duo is also developing two feature fiction projects: “A Pair of Shoes in the Dark Corner of the Moon,” to be directed by El Amir, set in the same village as the doc – “It’s a dark comedy about the boys of Barsha and their dreams” – and Riyadh’s “Moonblind” about a 12-year-old girl who escapes from Cairo to the south disguised as a boy, after stabbing her sexually abusive father. 


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