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Obituary: Kamal Attiya (1919-2008) - A multitalented filmmaker
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 24 - 01 - 2008

(1919-2008) - A multitalented filmmaker
By Samir Sobhi
The Egyptian film scene has just lost one of its most outstanding figures. The multitalented , who died last Tuesday aged 89, directed 24 feature films and wrote the lyrics of unforgettable songs for the likes of Mohamed Rushdi and Sabah. One of these songs, --Al-Ghawi Yenaqqat Bi Taqitu� (Hats for Passion), was memorised by all radio listeners in the country -- years before the time of television and video clips.
Although his public appearances were few and far between in recent years, Attiya kept working until the very end. He authored three books in the past few years. Al-Sira Atwal Min Al-Umr (A Legacy Longer than Life), a film biography, appeared in 2001. As for Qasaqis Al-Dhikrayat (Shreds of Memory, 2006), this also included reminiscences about his career. Published in 2004, Mozakkirat Ughniya (Memories of a Song) is a memoir centering on his contributions as a songwriter.
Long before his cinematic career took off, Attiya wrote shorts stories and songs. He wrote his first songs for the film Dayman Fi Qalbi (Always in My Heart), directed in 1946 by his mentor, Salah Abu Seif. And it was Abu Seif who gave him his first break as an assistant director.
One of Attiya's best-known films, Qandil Umm Hashem (Um Hashem's Lantern), based on the novel by Yehya Haqqi by the same title, addresses the contradictions between Western and Eastern lifestyles. The film tells the story of an Egyptian doctor who studied abroad, is loathe to using traditional medicine, but eventually, on return to Egypt, changes his mind. The film became so popular that even Attiya was miffed. --I made so many sophisticated movies, but people can only remember Qandil Umm Hashem,� he often complained.
Months before he passed away, Attiya showed me a script for a film about Queen Farida. He was hoping that Nadia Lutfi would play the lead role. Unfortunately, he did not have much time left.

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