Hend Sabry became a household name after starring in Egyptian soap drama Ayla Atgawiz. The Egyptian-Tunisian actress has also acted in numerous groundbreaking films such as Moufida Tlatli’s 1995 cult classic ‘The Silences of the Palace’ and Amr Salama’s 2011 tear-jerker ‘Asmaa’.
But Sabry’s breakthrough role was in Inas El Deghedy’s 2001 film ‘Mozakerat Morahka’ (The Diary of a Teenager), one of the most controversial films in Arab film history. From comedy and drama to art-house, Sabry’s long career is largely due in-part to her talent, but also from her ability to tackle any role.
So it should come as no surprise that Hendry has been named the first Arab woman to be on the jury at Venice Film Festival. She will be judging the debut works section of the world’s oldest film festival, lending her many decades in the film industry to emerging filmmakers and artists. I’m hoping that her Arab roots will also inspire her to keep an eye out for regional films which are gradually filtering into the international film circuit.
On her Instagram, she commented “I am proud to be one of the jury members of Venice Film Festival and I also feel proud that veteran directors Emir Kusurica and Antoinette Lio will be the jury presidents. I also am happy that this announcement coincides with the release of my movie ‘El-Feel-el Azra’a (The Blue Elephant 2) which achieved huge success across the Arab world. I hope to be a good ambassador for Arab art at the oldest festival in the world, and one of the three most important festivals in the world.”
Sabry has long-used her influence to play a starring role in activism. With the majority of her roles largely comprised of realistic female characters, with a depth and complexity that is not necessarily instinctive in every film from the region, Sabre’s work in mainstream culture has contributed a lot to moving against stereotypes of women in the Arab film industry, by bringing sincerity to characters that we can relate to.
Outside the film industry, Sabry is also extremely active. Since 2010, she has been an ambassador against hunger and was appointed as the region’s representative in the UN World Food Programme. The need for justice is a long-term goal for Sabry after having completed a law degree, and earning her masters in intellectual property law in 2004.