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three students intently listening to lecturer
Brighton & Sussex Medical School



A still form the film ZELAL - a figure stands in the half light, smoking a cigerette


28 July 2015

6.30 pm

Chowen Lecture Theatre


A challenging documentary by renowned Egyptian filmmaker Marianne Khoury, Zelal invites the audience to enter the world of shadows in Egypt’s mental asylums, and meet the people banished to these dark places.

Khoury’s film examines life in two of Cairo’s locked-door hospitals, giving us a compassionate insight into the patients and their families. It explores the concept of mental health - and the all too thin line between sanity and madness. 

The film will be followed by a Q&A session with director and producer Marianne Khoury (Misr International Films), led by Prof Bobbie Farsides (Professor of Clinical and Biomedical Ethics). 



Cairo-based filmmaker Marianne Khoury produces and directs films that engage the audience on an intimate level so that they share her passion for tackling controversial themes such as identity, memory, marginalization and social exclusion. She received her Masters degree in economics from Oxford University in 1982. 

Marianne gravitated towards cinema soon after graduating. In 1984, she became managing partner in Misr International Films (established by the late, iconic director Youssef Chahine), as well as an executive producer on many co productions directed by Chahine, such as: Adieu Bonaparte, The Sixth Day, Alexandria Again and Forever, Cairo as seen by Chahine, The Other, Silence… We’re Rolling, Alexandria, New York and Chaos.

Marianne has also collaborated with other directors, producing their first or second films, including Summersaults and The City by Yousri Nasrallah, Prouds and Beggars and Concerto in the Street of Happiness by Asma El Bakri, Date Wine by the late Radwan El Kashef, Closed Doors by Atef Hetata, The Storm by Khaled Youssef and Shéhérazade by Heba Yousri. In 2013, she produced five short movies with young Egyptian directors, on the theme of “Women in Contemporary Egypt”, as well as a feature documentary film with Dina Hamza, Gaye El Zaman. In 2014 she started producing the musical Ghosts of the City.

Marianne is captivated by ‘auteur cinema’, producing independent films that go against the grain of Egyptian cinematic themes. She directed her first documentary film, The Times of Laura, in 1999, followed by Women who Loved Cinema in 2002, both of which won critical recognition. These documentaries explore ground-breaking work achieved by renegade women in Egypt nearly a century ago. Marianne is deeply committed to telling the story of people, both men and women, who have no voice. In 2010, she directed Zelal, which investigated individual and societal perceptions of the mentally ill, raising questions about the concept of madness itself. The film was an official entry in the Venice Film Festival and won the FIPRESCI at the Dubai Film Festival and the RAI Broadcasting award at PRIMED 2011. 

She also created and fostered the first edition of the Panorama of the European Film in Cairo in 2004, which has since become one of the most important annual cinematographic meetings in Cairo. In 2014, she inaugurated Zawya, Egypt’s first art house cinema. Her project, Misr Film Focus, is dedicated to the development and production of films made by emerging Egyptian talent, through workshops and mentoring.

Marianne was jury member in several international festivals, including Milan, Fribourg, the Man Booker Prize, CMCA, Rotterdam, Abu Dhabi, and president of the jury of the FIPA 2006, Venezia 2011 (section Orrizzonti) and Week of the Critics in 2012 (Nespresso Price). She has also been the official correspondent for FIPA International Festival of Audiovisual Programs in Egypt (since 2006), a board member of the Egyptian Film Center (May 2011), a member of the planning committee of Euromed Audiovisual sponsored by the European Commission in 2007/2008 and a jury member of Médiatalents since 2013. 

1999 - The Times of Laura Feature documentary

2004 - Women who Loved Cinema Feature documentary

2010 - Zelal Feature documentary

2010 - Venice Film Festival: Nominee

2011 - Dubai Film Festival: Winner of the FIPRESCI

2011 - PRIMED Film Festival: Winner of the Rai Broadcasting Award