Follow Vogue Arabia

This Egyptian Makeup Artist-Turned-Filmmaker’s Short Film Shines a Light on an Icon of the Industry

Dalia Shawky in a film still. Photo: Courtesy

With a wealth of exciting features, documentaries, and short films screening at the fifth edition of the El Gouna Film Festival last week, the Middle East’s diverse range of story-telling was on display. Film set makeup artist-turned-filmmaker Mahmoud Rashad chose to dedicate one of his two submissions at the festival to a subject close to his heart. His short film celebrated the life of Mohammed El Sagheer, his Egyptian countryman and the iconic movie makeup artist who passed away earlier in 2021. Screening at El Gouna Film Festival’s memorial for El Sagheer and featuring actress Dalia Shawky, Rashad says that his short film intends to capture the sentimentality behind the creative’s career, as well as the achievements of Egyptian artists. Mohamed al Sagheer and I were very close friends and somebody that I worked with closely for a for a long time,” shares Rashad. “We also did a master class tour together in Egypt in 2019 with the actress Sawsan Badr, so we had personal and professional relationships. I find recognizing and documenting Egyptian brands like El Sagheer’s as part of our contemporary heritage.”

Mohammed El Sagheer. Photo: Courtesy

While the makeup and hair departments are undeniably a crucial factor for film sets, sometimes their importance can be overlooked, says Rashad. “While they have received a considerable recognition in the past few years, the makeup artists that work on film have been a little bit overshadowed by the celebrity of makeup artists on Instagram. Film makeup artists especially really are directors in their own right, where they draw the features of the character to help the actor deliver the performance they need to be delivering, and help conceive the director’s vision and the visuals. I wish film make up artists can get a little bit more recognition publicly.”

Mahmoud Rashad. Photo: Courtesy

In addition to El Sagheer’s work, Rashad tried to show his humanity to the viewer, a common thread in the filmmaker’s work. “My film about Mohammed El Sagheer is an incredibly sentimental and personal film, but that’s always what I try to do whenever I’m talking about a certain historical person, to humanize them to either through personal experience like Mr Mohamed El Sagheer, or through studying them like a lot of that ancient Egyptian figures I’ve worked on films for.” Rashad’s second El Gouna Film festival entry looks at the more historical side, with Ancient Egypt in Film covering the region’s past, with afollowing panel featuring discussion between Awsan Badr, Minister of Antiquities Dr Khaled Anany, art director Onsi Abu Seif, and Egyptologist Dr Yasmine El Shazly. “I always knew that I was a storyteller, and I’ve always been fascinated with retelling Egypt’s story as the history of this country is incredibly fascinating and it brings out the storyteller in me,” says Rashad. “My wish for this panel is to meet and find producers that would be interested to start writing and developing films about ancient Egypt and the heritage of Egypt for Egyptians. The narrative and the way you speak to Egyptians about their own heritage is incredibly different from the narrative that you use when you’re speaking to a global audience.”

Read Next: Your Guide to El Gouna Film Festival 2021

View All
Vogue Collection