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Music > World Music

Asmahan, an Oriental Diva

A 59’ & 90’ documentary directed in 2013 by Silvano Castano

Amal el-Attrache, or Asmahan (1917-1944), a Syrian princess of Druze origin, is one of the allegorical figures of 20th century history.

The protagonist of one of the most celebrated Egyptian musicals of the 1930s, Asmahan embodied the contradictions of a liberal era (that of the aristocracy of King Farouk when Egypt was a British protectorate), nonetheless open to multiculturalism.

She was the femme fatale of musical comedy and a classical Arabic singer, with all the vanity of a Hollywood star and yet deeply held austere religious beliefs.
She had a natural affinity with the Druze community and was shunned by others, indifferent to political causes, yet at the same time a committed supporter of the Allied during the Second World War.

The Europeans merely saw her as an exotic beauty with all the charms of the Orient; Muslim Arabs perceived her to be a woman that was far too emancipated, exhibiting Western decadence in the way she lived. She was born on a boat on the Mediterranean and found dead mysteriously floating in the Nile at the age of 26, could this woman have been sacrificed for the sake of the principles of a deeply archaic society on the brink of national determination?

The film is a portrait of this controversial muse, depicting both admiration and repression.

Festivals : - FIPA - Biarritz 2013 - Les Ecrans du réel – Beyrouth 2014

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