Honorable Mention – “The Girl in the Blue Bra” (USA)

Title: The Girl in the Blue Bra
Runtime: 12 min
Country: USA
Director: Ayesha Abouelazm
Placement: Honorable Mention
Competition: June, 2018

Synopsis: In the midst of the 2011 Egyptian protests, a sheltered young woman is forced out of her comfort zone and into the increasingly hostile streets of revolutionary Cairo.

FILMMAKER Q&A – Ayesha Abouelazm, Director

OR: What was the inspiration for your film?

AA: I wanted to simply tell a story inspired by a powerful event that occurred during the 2011 Egyptian revolution. A story inspired by a powerful woman. I am particularly moved by how this incredible woman—her body being the locus of terrific human depravity and animal violence—has become a meme that has spread though our imaginary of Arab Spring. My work is just one instantiation.

OR: When did you conceive the idea for your film and how long did it take before it was realized?

AA: The script and the film have evolved mostly through the character development. This piece is inspired by a horrendous moment of violence against a women during the 2011 Egyptian revolution. A 20 year old at the time, I remember the story and remember being so repulsed yet drawn to it.  The crazy thing was that by chance my brother and mother happened to be visiting family in Egypt during these violent times. Hearing from them about it all was vital. Years later, I revisited the clip on Youtube and watched it over and over. Why did one of the military officers proceed to cover her bra with her clothes after they beat her? The body language was huge for me. I was very intrigued by that moment and the only way to come to terms with that event as an artist was to make a piece on it. Again, characters and body language are huge for me, and that’s how this project got started.

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of working in a short film format?

AA: I believe the most challenging aspect of working in a short film format is figuring out which footage stays in the final cut and which footage doesn’t. It’s tough cutting scenes because of time when you are attached to a certain clip. 

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of your production?

AA: The most challenging aspect of this production was casting. Casting isn’t easy, but it gets harder the more specific you get. I was looking for Arabs that spoke Egyptian Arabic and had strong performances. It’s tough to find that in Chicago—let alone an Arab who is willing to act because it’s not a highly regarded profession in our culture. 

OR: Do you have any advice for first-time filmmakers?

AA: Always be hungry and ready to collaborate! Also, listen to others and learn from them. You are still young and should stay humble. Work hard and stand strong by your vision! Be ambitious!