Discovered anew: Abya Farid, the pioneering cinematographer

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Discovered anew: Abya Farid, the pioneering cinematographer

Photographed: Abya Farid | Photo credit: Baladna El Youm

Abya Farid stood in a movie set full of men, worried if she would ever make a name for herself. Today, she is remembered as the first female cinematographer in Egypt.

Farid’s influence continues to reverberate in the industry, as a cinematographer who broke down barriers and as a trailblazer for other women in the Egyptian film industry.

Farid was born in 1948 and had a soft spot for the arts from an early age. She followed her love for cinema when she joined the photography department of the Institut Supérieur du Cinéma. In 1971, Farid graduated at the top of her class and began working as a teaching assistant to major cinematographers including Wahid Farid and Essam Farid.

Films by Abeya Farid | Photo credit: El Cinema

She dabbled in experimenting with the camera through her experience with industry giants and assisted Director of Photography (DOP) Said Samy in 10 of his feature films and five documentaries. Farid was also the DOP for the documentary film Abad El Shams (“The Sunflower”, 1981) by Khairy Bishara. Among his other famous films are Khayfa Men Shayan Ma (“Fear of Something”, 1979) and Al Shaytan Yaez (“The Devil Preaches”, 1981).

Additionally, Farid appeared in the short film, El Batikha (‘Watermelon, 1972) by director Mohamed Khan.

Although the Egyptian film industry was already well established and filled with successful women, such as the legendary Bahja Hafez and Aziza Amir, women were still marginalized in the fields of direction, production, acting, music composition and fashion. Farid’s role as the first female cinematographer, however, was a stepping stone into the world of cinematic techniques. She was the figure behind the camera, managing and filming with confidence, consistency and a talent that inspired generations.

His talent earned him the prize for “best photography” for the film Mirhan at the National Short Film and Documentary Festival in 1973.

Nearly 40 years after her death, Farid will be celebrated at the 38th Alexandria Mediterranean Countries Film Festival in October for her pioneering role in Egyptian cinema

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