Mahmoud Mahmoud

An Egyptian Writer and Director
Member of The Cinema Professions Syndicate
Born in Cairo

His journey started from the school's theatre then the university's theatre until he won international festival awards. Mahmoud attended the systems and information faculty but that never ceased him to pursue his dream. He just found another path that led to his dream as he joined the university's theater with the university's troupe and the director Mohammad Al Khayyam. He then joined several theater troupes, one of them is the "liberty troupe" with the director Mohammad Abed Al Majid and the late artist Foad Al Mohandes. He became the primary responsible of his university's theater. After graduation, he started a self-learning journey in the field of writing and filmmaking and he sought to study cinema science through liberal studies in acting, filmmaking, and psychodrama, in Egypt and abroad with the help of director Ahmad Maher. He worked with directors like Ahmad Maher, Khaled Al Hajar, Yasser Zayed, Houssam Abed El Rahman, and Dr. Mohammad Abed El Hassan.

Thanks to his artistic excellence, he was chosen as the director of the Arab Open University where he carried out several projects on the university's theater and Al-nada theater. He completed many projects in Egypt until he was offered a television interview in Dubai and then moved there. Because of the positive feedback he got after the interview, he decided to settle in that hospitable country. His career prospered as he worked, studied, and attended workshops and training courses related to color science, architecture, cinematography, and art criticism. Afterwards, he carried out his first filmmaking project, an experimental film under the title of "Abdel Wadoud", which was screened at several international film festivals, which was an important milestone of his career. He then directed the short narrative film "A Brunette on the Road" and the film "My Homeland" which were shot in Dubai.

His best known works include "Magida" and "Casting Film Youssef Shaheen". They won many awards in several countries such as America, Austria, Japan, France, India, Italy and other countries. Magida is produced by Samir El-Nil, written and directed by Mahmoud Mahmoud, and Tamer Radwan as director of photography, and starring a large group of actors from different Arab countries.

“Casting Film Youssef Chahine" won many awards in various international festivals as well, such as France, Italy, India, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the Emirates, Europe, Malaysia and Hungary, and is still proving to be a huge success. It is produced by Weeknd Art Production company owned by the producer Sameh Helmy. Tamer Radwan was the director of photography. The star Nabila Obaid, the director Khaled Al-Hajar, Dr. Mohamed Abdel-Mohsen, the artist Hussein Nakhla, the artist Amal Al-Qarmazi, and many young people participated in the voice-over performance in front of and behind the camera.

He is currently working on a film entitled “Gharam”, written by Nasser Abdel Rahman, starring Amr Abdel Galil, and on another film with the producer Sameh Helmy, written by Dr. Sherif Adel. He is also working on the film Mosha, written and directed by him, and he has other projects in progress.

His works are obviously influenced by philosophy, psychodrama, mysticism, modernism, letters literature, Japanese literature, and the human soul and truth that are part of nature, fine arts, and aesthetics. He also believes that the truth and the soul of a human are related to cinema and he always educates himself on such topics. This huge interest is part of his soul and identity and is significantly reflected in his works.

On the behalf of Dubai, he carried out many projects that were acclaimed in more than 100 countries and he won as well many international awards. He received the UAE golden visa and is now a jury member in several international filmmaking festivals as a filmmaker in Europe and India.


Your project has entered in our festival. What is your project about?
The film "Casting Film Youssef Shaheen" is about the history and future of the cinema. The film is dedicated to a group of directors like Youssef Shaheen, Shadi Abed El Salam, Tarkovysky, Fellini, Bergman, Pasolini, Kim di-duk, Kurosawa, and Theo Angelopoulous.

All of those directors went through the same social, psychological, artistic, economic, and emotional crisis that are present nowadays, and we are afraid that future directors will continue to suffer the same crisis. Through the film, we dive into the past and the future using an ascetic and simple cinematic style which is at the same time full of modern audiovisual content.

logos award poster socila media post sizejpg

What are your ambitions with your project?
I hope that the film will at least push the audience to raise questions about the present and the future and encourage the current and future generations to hold on to their past. I hope it teaches the audience that only love can last and make a human being immortal. Regarding the recognition in terms of success and awards, the movie is still being granted awards from all over the world.

Tell us somethng about your shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?
The film went through many difficulties and conflicts initially since some families of the above mentioned directors though that we were portraying their life. We also faced other challenges with some people but the producer Sami Helmi and I managed to overcome everything. Regarding pleasant surprises, things weren't that pleasant during the shooting and I would like to keep somethings to myself, but I assure that I am totally content with the work and I think that the producer Sami Helmi agrees with me as well. I will also tell you a secret which is that I managed to convince him to act after big efforts. He is a wise producer and he enjoys great artistic experience and capabilities.

Dizajn bez nzvu - 2023-01-27T112326129png

For what group of spectators is your film targeted?
I am not concerned with the targeted group of spectators for many reasons, on top of them is that with time, the group and generation interested in the film will vary. Maybe the public artistic taste isn't that refined currently but might improve a lot in the near project. It is a journey through time and all groups will be interested in the film at some point in time, but as filmmakers, we do not know during which period the film will shine and who will be interested. At the end, every filmmaker hopes that his film reaches everyone.

Why should distributors buy your film?
I am in a weird situation with distributers, I have firm supporters and firm opponents, some consider that my movies do not fit in with the mainstream superficiality and thus want attract audience. I will clarify two points:
1. My films are amusing and include comedy and this will be the surprise for those who watch.
2. Based on which taste and culture should the filmmaker work? That of the individual, society, present, or future?

If the audience and the distributer got used to the fast rhythm and the Hollywood style, then why not? However, any distributer with the least amount of intelligence and emotions will realize the importance of marketing.

Dizajn bez nzvu - 2023-01-27T113012539png

He will find that my works let the spectator dive into them and helps him understand everything. My works are explicit and trigger emotions. The spectator feels then thinks then at last feels then doesn't bother himself to think and views the topics and characters from a different perspective. Some of the scenes are speechless and motionless and this silence and stillness triggers the imagination and causes the spectator to contemplate and speculate and find the relation between what's still and what moves, between speech and picture. Sometimes he finds a fast and modern sound rhythm but a slow photo rhythm to create an element of suspense and excitement. Since at the end of the day, cinema is an industry, and the distributer has the total right to seek financial gains, why not create a new type of audience who goes to the cinema to make use of his emotions, sentiments, and thoughts. At least, after distributing my film which he chose in addition to the whole film crew, he will guarantee that I will make him a comedy film, I really love that and he will make a lot of many easily and without an effort.

How would you specify your work?
What characterizes your film? The film revolves around the truth of a human being and his existence. Is there another truth but death? In the film, we used an unprecedented and very advanced cinematography and sound tape styles compared with the available low-budget.

Dizajn bez nzvu - 2023-01-27T112758380png

Why did you decided to become a filmmaker?
Maybe it's the filmmaking industry that chose me, but I remember that one night, I dreamt about being a filmmaker and receiving the Oscars award. Before that dream, as a kid, my hobbies were watching movies in my grandfather's library and turning Arabic reading texts into scripts and dialogues which I tried to turn into a movie at school.

Who is your role model?
My role models are my mother and father.

Which movies are your favorites? Why?
Nostalghia: Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky .
The Beekeeper: Directed by Theo Angelopoulos .
The Night of Counting the Years: Directed by Shadi Abdel Salam .
An Egyptian Story: Directed by Youssef Chahine .
Mirati Mudir 'Aam: Directed by Fatin Abdel Wahab .
The City: Directed by
Yousry Nasrallah Heya Fawda:  Directed by Khaled Youssef, Youssef Chahine
The Emigrant: Directed by Youssef Chahine
Shame: Directed by Ingmar Bergman
8½: Directed by Fellini
A Special Day: Directed by Ettore Scola
The Traveller: Directed by Ahmed Maher
Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow: Directed by Theo Angelopoulos .
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring: Directed by Kim Ki-duk .
Mamma Roma: Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini .
Songs from the Second Floor: Directed by Roy Andersson

These are my favorite movies, but why I love them? I would say the heart wants what it wants, words can't describe neither love nor its reasons. For example, my lover isn't with me right now, do I have reasons to be absent? No. Do I have reasons to love her? No. Do I have reasons to smell her perfume everywhere? No. Do I have reasons to wait for her but my love for her? That’s exactly how I consider love and cinema to be the same thing, like love for the homeland and mother's love. Yes, mother's love. My mother is my homeland; my lover is my homeland. I would better go back to my mother's womb and lap and to my lover than discuss why I love films.

Where do you look for inspiration for your films?
Love inspires me to make films, I can do nothing without love, even though I am homesick and far away from my country and mother and my lover left me, but their love keeps me alive hoping that one day I will wake up to find myself in the arms of my mother and lover in my homeland. I will reveal a secret about me, which is that every day a little part of me dies and I do not know of my body can bear me anymore. I apologize, I can say no more regarding this question because actually I am very tired.

Which topics interest you the most?
The pursuit of the truth of existence. A human is always in state of truth seeking and he might or might not reach what he wants, or maybe he will return from his journey to find himself outcast and forced to resume his truth-seeking journey which becomes his exile. Every search is a journey to find one's identity, love, homeland, mother, father, existence, and then death. I remember that one day I was in the arms of my lover and I felt as if I was tasting honey but that did not last for too long and now I taste nothing but pain. Maybe my answers include many hints, and the reader should read in between the lines. Does any of us remember how he was forced out of his mother's womb into life and how he started feeling and crying. I love to cry a lot and I love my mother's womb and honey.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career?
I consider that the true achievement in life is the happiness of those around you and especially parents, in addition to making your own family, anything other than that doesn't really matter. If you reached an old age, what will I do with my achievements If I am far away from my country all alone struggling and facing life and professional challenges, struggling to find opportunities because I am an Arab and I am not easily welcome on the international scale, and not even inside my own country. So dear reader, the greatest achievement is love, any artistic work, whether it was a success or a failure, and whether it received awards or not, that is not a true achievement for me even it was like that in the eyes of the audience, but it does not really matter in the life of the artist.

What do you consider most important about filming?
Seeking pure aesthetics in order to awaken the audience on the spiritual and materialistic level at the same time. This needs a sacrifice, patience, and faith from the artist. On the visual level, there must be an opportunity for the rhythm and the long shot and avoid fast-paced montage so that we understand and keep track of time and avoid as possible parallel cutting and transition from scene to scene through cutting only. In fact, there are around 12 cutting methods for the transition from one scene to another, so what if we came up with other methods or used lightening for transitioning from one scene to another. The most important as well is to give the spectator the feeling that he is in a constant unceasing quest until he finds himself inside a prison and the only way to get out is to discover himself and contemplate on his identity and existence. Raw shooting is also a must in cinema but it is not accessible, digital shooting on the other hand is lousy.

Which film technique of shooting do you consider the best?
In the absence of the raw, all techniques are not that good but at least, we can invent and discover the best technique that enables the filmmaker to come at peace with technology, time, and his soul.

How would you rate/What is your opinion about current filmmaking?
On the national level, the filmmaking industry is not doing well at all, for two reasons, the first and most important one is the absence of the Author, in which the role of the filmmaker being also the author of the film and not only visualizing the screenplay and fulfilling that vision. The other less important reason is that producers and distributers rely heavily on the actor without realizing that the biggest role is that of the author and the director.
On the international level, there are ups and downs, so sometimes we see that every decade or so European directors are called to promote Hollywood cinema. Directors from Arab refugees in Europe discuss nothing but the Arabic identity as well as poverty, sex, politics, and religion, and such unpleasant topics. So tell me dear foreign reader, will you accept beside you and Arabic director in Cannes or Venice or Oscars festivals? Would you support or help him produce his film then acknowledge his success without relying on topics like poverty, sex, politics, and religion?
If you agree, I am ready to work with you and send the script of a fully Egyptian film in terms of the author, director, and actors entitled "Moosha".
There are hundreds of Arab filmmakers from different countries who have such projects.

What can disappoint you in a movie?
Treating a film as if it was an advertisement or newscast, I invite all to go to the cinema and watch any Arabic film and you will find the answer by yourself.

Who supports you in your film career?
Any person even with his kind words can represent a source of support to me and I should give credit to my mother, father, mentors, friends, and dear audience.

What are the reactions to your film? (opinion of spectators, film critics, friends and family)
Reactions are mostly positive and inspiring.

Have you already visited any of the prestigious film festivals?
Yes, I visited prestigious film festivals before.

What are your future plans in filmmaking carriere?
I plan not to give up what I want and believe even my life had to end up alone in a very small room.

Learn more about Mahmoud