×

‘Aladdin’ Star Mena Massoud Calls for a Broader Diversity of Storytelling in Movies and TV

The star of “Aladdin,” Egyptian-Canadian actor Mena Massoud, called for a greater diversity of storytelling in movies and television when he spoke at the glamorous opening ceremony Thursday of the 3rd edition of Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival.

Massoud, whose credits include Amazon’s “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” and Hulu’s “Reprisal,” lauded “the power of art” to change society.

“As artists we have an extraordinary and rare privilege to tell the stories of our people, our land, our culture. They grip us, tear us apart, and put us back together. We are our stories.

“When I was growing up [in Canada] I never really saw people that looked like me on the big screen, and that made me feel like I didn’t belong there, and there wasn’t room for my story.”

He added: “When we represent all cultures with sensitivity and truth, we foster a society that supports all people. When we uplift artists who reflect diverse perspectives their stories not only tell us how people view others, but how they view themselves.”

Massoud spoke about the work of his charity Ethnically Diverse Artists Foundation, and presented its inaugural EDA International Artist in Motion Award to Moroccan actress Nisrin Erradi, who starred in Cannes film “Adam.” The award was “designed to honor an ethnically diverse artist who has demonstrated exceptional talent, ambition and promise in the film industry,” he said.

Massoud said he had been “inspired” by watching films from the Middle East and North Africa while assessing the merits of the candidates for the award, and “fell in love” with “Adam,” a multigenerational tale about three North African women.

“All at once it portrayed the grace and strength, the dedication, community and vulnerability that women of this region embody, and reminded me of my mother and sisters and the love and assertiveness with which they raised me. This film makes me proud to say that I am the son of a North African woman,” he said.

During the opening ceremony, the Palestinian filmmaker Mai Masri, whose credits include “3000 Nights,” received the festival’s Career Achievement Award, which was given to her by fellow Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad.

Among the artists performing at the ceremony were Lebanese dance troupe Mayyas, winners of this year’s “Arabs Got Talent” competition, and Syrian-Swedish singer Faia Younan.

El Gouna Film Festival, led by festival director Intishal Al Timimi and CEO Amr Mansi, opened with a screening of “Ad Astra,” and runs to Sept. 27.

The Arabic films in competition include Oualid Mouaness’ “1982” (Lebanon), Maryam Touzani’s “Adam” (Morocco), Noura Hinde Boujemaa’s “Noura’s Dream” (Tunisia), Mounia Meddour’s “Papicha” (Algeria), and Amjad Abu Alala’s “You Will Die at Twenty” (Sudan).

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Plans to Build New Film Studio

    Plans for New London Film Studio Run into Difficulties

    Plans to build a major new film and TV studio complex in Dagenham in East London have run into difficulties. Be First, the local Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration company spearheading the project, says that Los Angeles-based developer Pacifica Ventures will no longer be involved in the project. Pacifica Ventures was selected last year as [...]

  • La Rouei

    Lumiere Festival to Premiere Epic Restoration of 'La Roue'

    LYON, France  —  This coming Saturday and Sunday, the Lumière Festival will turn back the clock nearly one hundred years as the festival premieres a new completed reconstruction of Abel Gance’s 1923 masterpiece “La Roue” (“The Wheel”) that restores the classic to its original 7.5 hour length. Consisting of a prologue and four movements, “La [...]

  • Lina Wertmuller portrait

    Lina Wertmuller’s Exceptional Career Revisited

    In the still American-led realm of the Academy Awards, it’s unusual for the helmer of a film not in the English language to score a Best Director nomination. It’s far rarer still, meanwhile, for a woman to be nominated in the category at all: just five have done so in 91 years. Only one director, [...]

  • Fifth Seal

    Lumière Festival Honors Hungary, Screens Classics ‘Women,’ ‘The Fifth Seal’

    For the fifth year running, Lyon’s Lumière Festival will honor Hungarian cinema and invite guests of the Hungarian National Film Fund to present two classic Hungarian films from important national filmmakers, Márta Mészáros’ “Ők ketten” (“Women”) and Zoltán Fábri’s “Fifth Seal.” Both films will be presented by Lumière Festival special guest Marina Vlady on Oct [...]

  • Godzilla

    Criterion Collection President Peter Becker on Storytelling, Bergman vs Godzilla, B-movies

    LYON, France  —  The Lumière Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) kicked off on Tuesday in Lyon, France, with a keynote address by Criterion Collection President Peter Becker. The exec discussed the company’s storied history and evolution over the decades into a leading publisher of classic and contemporary films from around the world in high-quality [...]

  • Manuel Chiche

    Boutique Distributor Manuel Chiche Offers A State of The Industry

    LYON, France  — Manuel Chiche is riding high. Since June, his boutique distribution outlet The Jokers set admission records with Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite,” selling nearly 1.7 million tickets in France and still going strong as the film heads into its 19th week in theaters. Indeed, “Parasite” is now the second most successful Palme d’Or winner of [...]

  • Toni

    Italy’s L'Immagine Ritrovata Expected to Take Over France’s Eclair Cinema

    LYON, France  —  Leading Italian restoration company L’Immagine Ritrovata’s acquisition of renowned film lab Eclair Cinéma, announced last month, is expected to be approved by the French Commercial Court of Nanterre at the end of November or beginning of December, according to a source familiar with the deal. L’Immagine Ritrovata’s French subsidiary, L’Image Retrouvée, last [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content