The highly praised director dives back into his ethnic history through an imaginative and challenging, yet relatable, narrative. Sherif Arafa explains El Kenz and how he crafted and directed a story about a girl in pursuit of her treasures.
CWM: You initially envisioned the story behind El Kenz, how did it first come about?
The story initially came from Abdulrahim Kamal about a girl who inherited a home and inside the home, she dreams of Hatsheput who leads her to her treasures. The return to our origins and exploring our history was on my mind, and I developed the story of the film to involve several characters and a narrative style that is depicted in the film.
The story around three different eras in time, what were the challenges you faced as a director dealing with such different time periods?
The first challenge was the budget, due to the enormous cost these types of productions usually incur. The truth is, the producer Walid Sabry was very enthusiastic and eager, which helped a lot. The second challenge was executing the on-set production, due to all the different locations needed to make the story believable and of course, the vast costume design needed to pull off all the different looks from different eras. However, there was always an underlying motive to create a unique film that shows viewers a side of history they may have never seen on screen before, and the intersecting and overlapping storylines that are woven through time.
Love and power are the underlying themes throughout the two films. Why were these themes so important?
Love and power are always at odds. A strong and powerful person faced with conflict also faces another conundrum of whether to follow his heart or his mind. Which does he follow? Which would he sacrifice? And if he sacrificed love, what will be the consequences? And what is our destiny when we ultimately sacrifice love?
What were the most challenging scenes to film?
I found the scenes that are supposed to convey emotions and affection the hardest to shoot, but luckily, the cast supported me a lot with their talent and enthusiasm.