August 2013

"Al-khoroug lel-nahar – Coming Forth by Day"

by Hala Lotfy, opens November 14, accompanied by a tour with the director and one of the actresses

Still from Coming Forth by Day

One day in the life of Soad, who lives with her mother and bed-ridden father on the outskirts of Cairo. While bright sunlight and the sounds of the city can be made out behind the half-closed shutters, everything in the flat exudes the smell of old age, sickness and stagnation. Her mother works nights in a hospital and has barely any energy to spare during the day. Soad too is no longer young, having resigned herself to caring for her incapacitated father and putting her own life on hold. The camera patiently follows her movements and daily activities that have become routine, capturing her frustration as well as moments of great tenderness. Hala Lotfy’s impressive debut focuses on the relationship between light and shadow, within and without, life and death. Coming Forth by Day, the idea of emerging into light, is the literal translation of the title of the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. Soad’s longing is palpably directed outside. But when she leaves the flat in the evening and wanders alone through Cairo by night, it becomes clear just how far she has already distanced herself from her own needs. And yet at the end of the night begins a new day that may still bring change.

The director Hala Lotfy and her actress Donia Maher will be present at these screenings:

November 14        Mal seh’n Kino, Frankfurt/M
November 15        Metropolis, Hamburg
November 16        Eiszeit Kino, Berlin
November 18        Cineding, Leipzig
November 19        Arabisches Filmfest, Tübingen

"Something slipped away" – Hala Lotfy on her film

In a certain sense, I find my self stuck, just like the characters of my screenplay. I have difficulties revealing and being my true self. The question is, what stops me? I see no physical barriers to overcome. So have I created my own barriers, or is it something beyond my control? When we were younger we believed there was no such thing as destiny. We believed in the possibility of changing what we didn’t accept. But most importantly, we believed in the potential of cooperation to achieve that change. Much to our disappointment, it didn’t happen that way. Something slipped away slowly and unnoticeably. I woke up one day with the thought that perhaps all was lost. Is it because things are getting uglier and harder than before, or because I couldn’t stand the constant pressure to resist the corruption of the outside world, or just because I suddenly felt deep inside that collective salvation is unattainable? Yet I do truly believe that working in cinema is impossible without really loving people and believing in their nobility and courage, even of those who can’t take any tangible action to change or even realise what they need to face. All the characters in the film suffer from their inability to open up and express their emotions at the most pressing times.
Suppressing these emotions leaves them mute, torn between the feeling of being a victim and the indifference of someone who has gotten used to pain and can’t move to a better place, where the tempting lights flash in the distance. This is a film about how we make our own prisons by accepting with great nobility a life that is anything but noble.

Hala Lotfy was born on 3 July 1973 in Egypt. She graduated from Cairo University in 1995 with a degree in economics and political science, after which she studied at the Cairo Film Institute until 1999. After working for two years as an assistant director, in 2005 and 2006 she directed seven films for the documentary series Arabs of Latin America for the international TV broadcaster Al Jazeera. She began producing her feature film debut, AL KHOROUG LEL-NAHAR – COMING FORTH BY DAY, in 2007, and completed it in 2012 after a break in production. In 2010, Hala Lotfy founded the independent production company Hassala Productions, which aims to support young artists.


The distribution of this film is supported by the Berlinale World Cinema Fund, an initiative of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the Berlin International Film Festivalfunded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Mediain cooperation with the Goethe Institute andwith the support of the Federal Foreign Office.

Country/Year: Egypt, United Arab Emirates 2012. Format: DCP, BluRay. Color. Running Time: 96 Minuten. Language: Arabic with German subtitles. Director, scriptwriter: Hala Lotfy. Cinematography: Mahmoud Lotfi. Costumes: Naira Dahshoury. Sound: Abdul Rahman Mahmoud. Editor: Heba Othman. Producers: Manal Khalil, Hala Lotfy. With: Donia Maher (Soad), Salma Al-Najjar (mother), Ahmad Lutfi (father), Doaa Oreyqat (girl on bus), Ahmad Sharaf (bus driver), Galal Beheiri (soldier), Nadia Al-Gindi (nurse).