War reporter-turned movie maker turns camera on Egyptian slums

Wed Oct 29, 2014 10:39am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Maha El Dahan

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - After working as a war cameraman for 18 years, getting injured twice along the way, Egyptian journalist Ibrahim al Batout decided to get away from the real-life violence and make movies.

But his latest venture "El Ott" or "The Cat", which premiered this week at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, does not shy away from blood.

The movie stars Egyptian actor Amr Waked -- who most recently appeared alongside Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson's "Lucy" -- as a gangster searching for his kidnapped daughter, a quest that exposes the grimmest side of life in Cairo's slums.

In one of the opening scenes, organ traffickers remove the kidneys from kidnapped street children, dumping their bodies. A girl is saved from the same fate only when her kidnappers decide they can make more money selling her off into a child marriage.

"I specifically said to myself this time I want to see blood and I want to see violence in this film because it hurts me. It hurts me to know that we have more than 4 million homeless kids on the street and it hurts to see how women are dealt with as a commodity in this part of the world," Batout told Reuters.

A recent study by the Egyptian government put the number of street children at 3 million while some non-governmental organizations say it is 4 million.

The 51-year-old director, who has won awards for his documentaries, started making feature films in 2004. "The Cat" is his fifth and, by far, most violent movie.

"When I started making fiction it was because I hated reality so I wanted to create a reality that I could deal with," Batout said.   Continued...

Egyptian director Ibrahim El Batout (C) poses with actors Salah Al Hanafy (L) and Amr Waked during the photocall of the movie "El sheita elli fat (Winter of discontent)" at the 69th Venice Film Festival in Venice September 1, 2012. REUTERS/Max Rossi