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Gunshot: How Karim El-Shenawy Took on the Challenge of His Directorial Debut 'Eyar Nari'

[EXCLUSIVE] One day after it hit the theatres, we sit with the makers behind Gunshot (Eyar Nari)

The fuming directorial debut of Karim El-Shenawy, Gunshot, and Haitham Dabbour’s second screenplay after the award-winning Photocopy is here. The feature-length crime story of a murder that happened during the revolution stars Ahmed Al-Fishawy, Ruby, Mohamed Mamdouh and Ahmed Malek.After its exclusive premiere on September 25th in El Gouna Film Festival, we sat with the filmmakers and picked their minds for all the questions we had. Their story begins in 2012, when Dabbour spoke with El-Shenawy about an idea that was itching him, wondering if he should publish it as a story or write it for the silver screen. Shenawy’s answer resulted in him directing ‘Gunshot’ as we see it today.

 

Gunshot: A Scary Thought?

Dabbour told us: “We presented the scenario to many industry-people in 2012: producers, actors and others. They were all scared of the idea and the story. Even when we started filming, it felt courageous of everyone who was on set. Everyone would ask: Are you writing for truth or humanity? Will you stand up for your work-ethic or for the public-opinion?” Shenawy said: “I was definitely worried about this being my debut, especially with the controversy it would stir, but I took the decision with Haitham before filming: that we would stand up for the film, and that we wouldn’t make decisions for the sole purpose of pleasing anyone, or because we’re scared or because this is what the audience wants to see, and that’s why we changed nothing and produced the film the way we wanted with the questions we wanted to ask.”

After the Gouna screening, we could see the seething controversy in the audience. Shenawy’s answer to that was that he knew the story wasn’t kind to the audience, and that it was meant to stir dialogue: that what would truly make him is people still discussing the thought behind it later. Haitham continues: “We made a confusing film that would stir questions. If these questions took us time to write, they would surely take the audience time to think about.” Shenawy said that, after the screening, he received a lot of reactions and questions about the movie from people who were truly shocked.

With the revolution or against the revolution?

The movie is set in 2011, during the events of Lazoughly and the clashes between the police and the protestors, in which many are killed. But among the dead is one young man the coroner claimed had died of a close-range gunshot, rather than sniper-fire. This is when trouble starts, especially after the coroner’s report is leaked to the press, and he’s accused of colluding with the government.

Shenawy said that he would tell the crew that they would receive a lot of texts celebrating the movie, but that this is going to be a movie that’s hard to publicly defend. After the screening, many critics attacked the movie on social media and accused him of tainting the revolution. When we asked him about this, Dabbour told us: “I worked hard writing a movie, so I expect critics to write reviews, rather than just their opinions in Facebook posts.” El-Shenawy continued: “We shared a thought and created the space for dialogue, and we’re waiting for people to share their opinions. Maybe a political column can be written to discuss it, but if I would read a review, I want someone to talk to me about it as a work of art.”

We asked the stars, Mohamed Mamdouh, Asmaa Aboulyazid, and Ahmed Al-Fishawy about the movie’s handling of the revolution, and Mamdouh told us: “The revolution is an example in the movie, because a lot of the time, the most controversial issue [in Egypt] has been the revolution, so we decided that we would discuss that and tell the truth, which is multifaceted, but the symbol of the revolution in the movie is a real symbol” Aboulyazid and Al-Fishawy saw that the movie presents a case and a question, rather than provide an answer.

Gunshot is a Minefield

The movie is generically a Crime-Thriller, but it poses questions, which made the characters complicated for the actors, and when we asked Shenawy how he chose the heroes, he told us: “I picked people who are able to perform these characters and I would discuss the characters with them and speak to them because they are part of the work, and I didn’t tell anyone how to act, or how to say specific sentences.”

Al-Fishawy told us about the coroner’s character: “I played the role of a drunk doctor all the time, although I don’t drink on the job, so this was the toughest par: that I had to be an alcoholic.” Mamdouh explained: “I changed some things about the character I was playing, and made him work at a limestone mine, and from there I found out about the existence of these places in Egypt, and people there are always exhausted by the smog which damages their lungs, and drink tea in plastic bags to protect themselves.”

Asmaa Aboulyazid told us that, having acted In successful series, among which were Hatha Elmasaa and Layaly Eugenie, people expected her on the silver screen. And, although her character didn’t speak much, she was able to express with her face and her looks the meaning to the audience. Aboulyazid told us: “Salma is all about her expressions. Without talking, she was able to convey what she wanted to say, but even that left question marks on what she actually wanted.”

The Film’s Hardships

We asked the filmmakers about the hardships, and Dabbour explained: “The movie homed to its name: Gunshot. We were always comparing the process to the meticulous work of a jeweler. But we didn’t have gold. We had a minefield.” When Shenawy told us about the hardship of filming in limestone quarries: “We convinced production to make that on the last day of filming, and that we would actually go to the quarries. And it was a hard day, but the scene was worth it.”

As for the actors, Al-Fishawy told us: “the hardship was in conveying the details of the character itself, but I loved it and was excited to work with a first-time director because they always put their heart in the work, and most of my work had been with first-timers.” Mamdouh told us: “The day of filming in the quarries was the hardest, but the moment I read the scenario, I told them I wanted to play Khaled, and that’s why I agreed to the role.”

Original interview by our sister website's ElFasla's Nancy Fares

Translated by Omar Kafrawy

Shoot by MO4Network's MO4Productions

 


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