The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni A film by Rania Stephan

“Re-garder, c’est garder deux fois” – says Godard : ‘To look at something and see it, is to keep it twice’. The memory of our cinema is
alive as long as we look at it again, as long as we refresh our gaze of
it, reinterpret it, reinvented it. So in this way, Soad Hosni can long
live again…

Text by Rania Stephan.

Synopsis The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni is a
rapturous elegy to a rich and versatile era of film production in Egypt
which has lapsed today, through the work of one of its most revered
actress and star: Soad Hosni, who from the early 1960 into the 90s,
embodied the modern Arab woman in her complexity and paradoxes.

Born in Cairo in 1943, Soad Hosni committed suicide in London in
2001. Between the ages of 19 to 49, she played in eighty-two feature
films with thirty-seven directors. Inspired by her rags to riches story,
she was given the nickname ‘The Cinderella of Arab cinema’; she was the
daughter, sister, friend, fiancée, lover and wife to illustrious stars
of Egyptian cinema when it was the chief purveyor of cinematic fiction
in the Arab world.

Pieced exclusively from VHS footage of Egyptian films starring Soad Hosni, The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni is constructed as a tragedy in three acts where the actress tells her dreamed life story in the first person singular.

The re-use of fiction, the most compelling register of her work and
body over the years, ultimately becomes the closest to a documentary
about her life and work. The coarse and scratched visuals are an ode to
the VHS tape that revolutionised the wide dissemination of film for home
and personal use.

Irreverent, playful, marvellous and serious, The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni
underscores the saving grace of fiction. In seventy-minutes, the film
proposes a singular and poetic rewriting of a golden period of Egyptian
cinema, enacted by Soad Hosni, an exceptional artist, tragic star and
symbol of modern Arab womanhood.

Biography

Born in Beirut – Lebanon, Rania Stephan graduated with a degree in
Cinema Studies from Latrobe University in Melbourne, Australia and a
graduate degree in Cinema Studies from Paris VIII University, France.
Her career in film production has been long and diverse. She has worked
as first assistant with renowned filmmakers including Simone Bitton (Rachel, Wall, Citizen Bishara) and Elia Suleiman (Divine Intervention); and as cameraperson and editor with researchers in Social Sciences and Anthropology (The Procession of the Captives, Waiting for Abu Zayd, Catherine or the Body of the Passion). Her work ranges from creative videos to raw documentaries. “The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni” is her first feature film.

Filmography

Tribe (1993), Attempt at Jealousy (1995), Baal & Death (1997),
train-trains (Where’s the Track?) (1999), Arrest at Manara & Kimo
the Taxi (2003), Wastelands (2005), Lebanon/War (2006). Smoke on the
water, 7 X El Hermel (2007), DAMAGE, for Gaza “The land of Sad Oranges” (2009), The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni (2011), SAMAR YAZBEK INTERVIEWED (2013).

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