Abya Farid stood in a movie-set full of men, worried if she would ever make a name for herself. Today, she is remembered as the first female cinematographer in Egypt.
Farid’s influence continues to reverberate through the industry, as the cinematographer who broke barriers, and as a trailblazer for other women in Egypt’s film industry.
Farid was born in 1948, and nurtured a soft spot for the arts from a young age. She followed her love for cinema when she joined the department of photography at the Higher Institute of Cinema. In 1971, Farid graduated at the top of her class and started working as a teacher’s assistant to leading cinematographers, including Wahid Farid and Essam Farid.
She dabbled in experimenting with the camera through her experience with industry giants, and assisted director of photography (DOP) Said Samy in 10 of his feature films and five documentaries. Farid was also the DOP for the documentary film Abad El Shams (‘The Sunflower,’ 1981) by Khairy Bishara. Among her other known films are Khayfa Men Shayan Ma (‘Afraid of Something,’1979) and Al Shaytan Yaez (‘The Devil Preaches,’ 1981).
Additionally, Farid appeared in the short film, El Batikha (‘Watermelon, 1972) by director Mohamed Khan.
Although the Egyptian cinema industry was already well-established and replete with successful women, such as the legendary Bahja Hafez and Aziza Amir, women were still marginalized in the fields of directing, production, acting, music composing, and fashion. Farid’s role as the first female cinematographer, however, was a stepping stone in the world of cinematic technicalities. She was the figure behind the camera, managing and shooting with confidence, steadfastness, and talent that inspired generations.
Her talent won her the ‘Best Cinematography’ award for the film Mirhan at the National Festival of Short Films and Documentaries in 1973.
Nearly 40 years after her passing, Farid will be celebrated at the 38th Alexandria Mediterranean Countries Film Festival in October for her trailblazing role in Egyptian cinema