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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Ethics in Performance - 2011/12 series



15 March 2012

6.00 pm

Chowen Lecture Theatre, BSMS Teaching Building


In collaboration with the Egyptian Cultural Centre and Educational Bureau, London

"Asmaa" - directed by Amr Salama

Based on a real life story, "Asmaa" dares to tell the story of an Egyptian woman living with the stigma of HIV and her fight against prejudice and injustice.

The screening was followed by a Q&A session with the director, producer and 2 HIV consultants from the UNAIDS program in Cairo.


Review by Dr Khalid Ali

"The subject of HIV in European and American cinema has of course been explored in many films (such as "Savage nights" (1992), "Philadelphia" (1993), "The Hours" (2002), and "Angels in America" (2003)). However depictions of HIV positive characters in Arab cinema have been scarce, characteristically portraying HIV patients as promiscuous sinners who deserve to be ill, or else as victims of an American conspiracy to spread HIV infection amongst young people in the Arab world.

Based on a real life story, the new film "Asmaa" by Egyptian director Amr Salama and starring actress Hind Sabry is therefore a welcome advance in the handling of such a taboo subject in Arab cinema. The main protagonist, Asmaa, is a middle-aged widow who works as a cleaner in Cairo International Airport, and cares for her elderly father and her rebellious daughter. In a shocking opening scene, Asmaa is thrown out of an operating theatre where she was about to have surgery, after informing her surgeon that she is HIV positive.

The variety of themes examined in this film, including confidentiality, HIV patients' right to treatment, counselling and support, in addition to the excellent narrative style and the heartfelt emotional portrayal of its heroine, make it essential viewing for doctors, medical ethicists and human rights organisations, as well as the public."