Egyptian filmmaker Mark Lotfy and Swedish director Axel Petersen will be documenting the enigma that is late Egyptian actor Omar Sharif. The documentary titled The Life and Times of Omar Sharif is set to unravel and delve into how the politics of 1950s Egypt shaped the iconic actor’s complex persona.
Comprised mostly of archival footage and interviews, the film will tell the story of how Egypt’s political climate drastically impacted the actor’s life choices, detailing the sentiments behind his move out of Egypt.
Born as Michael Dimitri Shalhoub in 1932 in Alexandria to Syrian and Lebanese parents, the documentary tells the interesting story of how the policies of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who ruled Egypt from 1954 to 1970 and, the political climate of that time led him to change his name and convert to Islam when he married Egyptian actor Faten Hamama in 1955. Sharif went on to live across Cairo, Paris, and Los Angeles, eventually making his way into Hollywood.
Sharif was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Sherif Ali in David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia and won a Golden Globe for the same role. The actor starred alongside Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl and was highly praised for his role in David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago, where he shared the screen with British actor Julie Christie. The irrefutable “ladies man” was also fluent in Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Greek, and French. Sharif died of a heart attack in Cairo Hospital in 2015 at the age of 83; the actor had also been battling Alzheimer’s disease.
The documentary will be produced between Sigrid Helleday’s Stockholm-based Fedra and Lotfy’s Alexandrian-based Fig Leaf Studios and Corniche Media in London. The film is still in the making, and the release date is yet to be announced.
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