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    Still from Her Man (Ayten Amin). Used with permission from Women's Voices Now.


  issue 3.2 |  

Journal Issue 3.2
Fall 2011
Edited by Julie Ann Salthouse, Jillian Hernandez, Agatha Beins, Karen Alexander and Deanna Utroske
Editorial Assistants: A.J. Barks and Anna Zailik


On Spring '89 and Her Man1

Artist's Statement by Ayten Amin


"It's not where you take things from, it's where you take them to." - Jean-Luc Godard

When I first read Godard's quote, I was filled with joy and relief to know that such an icon as Godard encourages theft. In everyday life theft is an act that requires punishment, in Art it is an act that many times leads to masterpieces.
         When I was writing the screenplay for my first short fiction film, Her Man, I was inspired by a scene my brother once wrote. My brother was a freelance writer and worked as a critic; he sometimes would also write for his own pleasure. He wrote a beautiful scene in which a woman is saying a monologue while she is bathing her man in a bathtub; this was a two-page vignette that I completely fell in love with.
     Two years later I read the short story "Her Man" by Ahdaf Soueif2 and decided to turn it into a short film as a graduation project. For two months I failed to write a screenplay, but then had the idea of starting the film with a scene in which a woman is talking to the camera in a monologue. I was directly influenced by my brother's scene, and I started writing a screenplay that began to evolve and change. The story was about a woman who suffers from her husband taking a younger second wife. While he is away, his two wives spend the night together in the same bed; the older woman leads the younger one to sleep with her and leaves a mark on her neck. When the husband comes home, the first wife accuses the second wife of cheating on him and uses the mark as a proof of her cheating. The husband believes the allegations and divorces the young girl. In the very first scene, the first wife also talks about the fact that she met her husband when she was 16 and that she learned to love him only after they married. Ironically, when my brother read the story he did not even take notice of the resemblances, which were very obvious to me.
       I stole again for my third short fiction. In Spring '89, a scene was directly inspired by a scene in Yousry Nasrallah's Gate of the Sun. In one scene in Nasrallah's film, a girl drives her car while listening to the radio and suddenly there are gunshots everywhere. The girl is killed, but the song from the radio continues to play; this song becomes the main sound in the scene, and the audience does not hear anything else. It is a very intense moment, and the song makes it more powerful. In my film, about two teenage girls coming of age, there is a scene in which one girl is talking to the other about her boyfriend. The second girl listens, knowing that her friend has not discovered her own relationship with the same boy. We hear a song coming out the radio and as one of them is enveloped in her inner world, the song plays louder, becoming the only thing we hear in the scene. Like in Nasrallah's film, this sound has a powerful impact on the scene. Interestingly, Nasrallah watched the film as a jury head at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival and gave me a special mention for it, though I do not believe he ever took notice that I had taken the idea of the scene from his film.
     I think this was not the last time I will steal. I love Godard. Recently, I finished a new film, a documentary, which was screened at both the Venice Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival. This was the first time making a documentary, which I do not think I will do again, as I just love fiction I am currently developing my new project, a fictional feature film that I hopefully will shoot next year.


Ayten Amin was born in Alexandria, Egypt. She studied cinema then worked as an assistant director on several films. Her film Her Man was screened at the first MEIFF in 2007. Both that film and her next effort, I Know Who She Is, received several awards and were screened at many international film festivals.

1 Spring '89 (produced by the Egyptian Film Center, Cairo, 2009) can be viewed at Her Man (produced by Ayten Amin, Cairo, 2006) can be viewed at

2 See Ahdaf Soueif, Aisha (London: Bloomsbury, 1996).


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