With Ahmed Hatem and Tarek El- Ebiary making cameo appearances.
Living up to the insane expectations of your family – one of several perennial Egyptian problems we’ve all faced at one time or another in our lives. But for Omar El Mohandes, take that and multiply it by 100, because, as you might have guessed, Omar is the grandson of legend of Egyptian cinema, Fouad El Mohandes.
Whether by luck or by design, Omar has found himself in the film industry, too, but behind the camera.
“Yes, I have definitely felt an immense amount of pressure,” he told us. “Yet film directors are never under the spot light like actors, so not everyone is familiar with the relationship between me and my Grandfather, El Ostaz!”
But to suggest that Omar is in his grandfather’s shadow would be unfair. In carving out his own path in the industry, Omar has worked on the two seasons of TV show, El Kenz, as well as the second season on El Gezera. But he took his biggest leap this month when, after two long years in the works, he released his first independent short film, Batal Raas El Sana, which he wrote, directed and even funded himself.
“The film captures 10 minutes that might at first seem random,” he explains of the experimental piece. “However, as the events unfold, we start to realize the importance of such a short period of time and how things can drastically change the life of an individual.”
But Omar is quick to distance the film, which focuses on a lonely policeman stationed on a solitary road in Cairo and features cameo appearances from actors Ahmed Hatem and Tarek El- Ebiary, from having any kind of explicit premeditated message, asserting that films are not lectures.
“Each individual has their own social baggage and experiences that help them form their own perspectives,” he told us before going on to show that, from a production perspective, he understands the hurdles that all emerging filmmakers face.
“Short films are extremely difficult to produce, because you can hardly find someone willing to invest money on a film that will not be released in theaters or TV. So I decided to write a one actor/one location short film that would be interesting while maintaining a low budget.”
But despite these hurdles, Omar isn’t about to let them derail his childhood dream. He has been toiling away at his craft since middle school, boasts Sherif Arafa as a personal mentor and credits his grandfather, along with Adel Imam, as his two favourites comedic actors – he even has every Fouad El Mohandes film ever made on VHS.
It’s this mix of growing up around the industry and his own curiosity in experimenting in the field which has equipped him for great things to come. Although it’s still very early in his career, he already has plenty of invaluable experience – a lot of which he says other Egyptian filmmakers can gain by following a few lessons he’s learned along the way.
“Challenge yourself!” he says in almost demanding fashion. “Embrace terrible and stupid mistakes, fail multiple times and get back up again. Take each failure as a life lesson and, as Martin Scorsese once said, watch at least one film per day!”
You can check out more of Omar’s work on his YouTube account.