By Sherif Awad
Although many Arab performers dream of relocating to Egypt, Heind Sabry and Dorra are a few of the Tunisian actresses who became superstars in the Egyptian film and TV, to the extent that they both stopped working elsewhere. In contrast, actresses like Sandy, Latifa or Feryal Youssef made some appearances but then faded rapidly to oblivion.
Among the new generation of Tunisian stars is Fatma Nasser who has enjoyed positive reviews for her supporting roles on the big and small screen and finally this year, she received top billing on the poster of the romantic drama ROUGE, opening soon throughout the mideast.
Fatma Nasser grew up like many of her generation, watching Egyptian black & white classic films on the National Tunisian television. She studied business administration and then worked in the Spanish banking field. Her introduction to the Egyptian entertainment scene came accidentally while on vacation in Cairo when she was cast in an early short film. directed by Amr Salama entitled THE ADVERTISEMENT (2006).
This caught the attention of Ihab Lamee, another Egyptian director, who cast her in ON AIR, a light comedy feature that miraculously found its way to the competition of Cairo Film Festival 2007, during a year that lacked more serious productions. Many supporting roles in films and TV series followed, notably in TELL US, SCHEHERAZADE TELL (2009) and BITTER SUGAR (2015). Nasser then returned to her homeland where she appeared in film and on television.
She starred in the short Tunisian film, CLEAN SOAP, directed by Maleyka Emar (2010) and the feature, FREE, (2015) by Moaz Kamoun. The latter was screened last year in Alexandria Mediterranean Film Festival (AMFF). Following a co-starring role opposite Hany Salama in his TV series MY DESTINY, YOUR DESTINY, Nasser returned last September to AMFF to present her first starring role in ROUGE, a romantic drama co-starring Amir Salah. Directed by first time feature helmer John Ikram, ROUGE takes place in one night when beautician Wafaa, played by Fatma Nasser, decides to commit suicide. When deliveryman Hassan saves her, they spend a night together that is full of surprises.
"In ten years, I acted in Egypt more than Tunisia", commented Fatma Nasser. "The Egyptian film and TV industry are larger and more popular across the Arab world. So far, my favorite two appearances were on TV in two TV series: AFTER THE BEGINNING in 2015 and EXIT in 2016, although I target cinema as my priority."
Nasser was attracted to the role of Wafaa, the middleclass young woman and the main character in Rouge, the film that represented Egypt in both the Mediterranean Feature Competition and the Arab Feature Competition during AMFF last September. "I liked her change that her character goes through from, a desperation to believing that fate is stronger than any human being's will."
In AMFF and on her film's premieres, Nasser always catches the attention of Egyptian media and most of paparazzi's cameras hunt her, to get as many angles as possible of her fashionable dresses. "I show up really to connect with filmmakers I don't know and of course, to promote my new outings", explains Nasser, who was cast in the next film by Moroccan filmmaker Hassan Benjelloun last year when he met her in Alexandria and saw her Tunisian film FREE that was selected in the competition.
Fatma Nasser’s next project is seeking an agent in the UK or the US to follow the footsteps of many Arab actors in appearing in international productions. "Practicing French and English, not to mention my universal look, I am sure I can make it on the international scenes," she says with confidence.
Next for Fatma Nasser, a new Tunisian film she has just finished called ROUGH SEAS. "This new drama was shot entirely in Tunisian village", says Nasser. "It is set during the 1950s during the struggle for Independence from France. My costars are the Tunisian Havian, Atif Bin Hussein and Mohammed Sayari.
Born in Cairo, Egypt, Sherif Awad is a film/video critic and curator. He is the film editor of Egypt Today Magazine (www.EgyptToday.com) and the Artistic Director for both the Alexandria film Festival, and the Arab Rotterdam Festival in The Netherlands. He also contributes to Variety, in the United States and is the Film Critic of Variety, Arabia (http://amalmasryalyoum.com/ennode189132).