Faten Hamama's Biography
By: Fatemah Alhusayni

"The distance between Faten and the next runner up is like the distance between 1 to 10" This is a quote from Faten Hamama ex-husband director Ez El Din Zulfikar Whom she worked with in more than 5 films and was married to the period between 1947 - 1954. ' The legend of Faten Hamama began in 1931 when she was born in Elmansoura, Egypt to Mr. Ahmad Hamama, the employer of ministry of knowledge. Her acting career started in the movie “Yom Sa'id" (A Happy Day) in 1940 when she played with famous Egyptian musician Mohammad Abdel Wahab and director Mohammed Karim. Faten was very talented that Karim placed a contract with her to work with him in the future. With two more movies with Karim in 1944 and 1946 Faten built her foundation as a talented actress in the Egyptian Cinema. In 1946 she started her study in the High Institute of Acting and moved with her family to Cairo. Actor and director Youssef Wahby (known as dean of Egyptian theater) was thrilled by Faten’s talent that he gave her a roll in his next film Malak al rahma (1946). The film was the beginning of Faten’s life as a star of the forties.Faten continued to make films with Wahby, she made another three successful films through the period 1946-1949 like Kursi el iteraf ( The chair of confession), El Yatimatain ( The Two Orphans) and Sitt el beit ( The lady of the house). Faten didn’t restrict her self to one director , so when new directors wanted to enter the film making industry in the fifties she helped them all to make successful films. In 1952 Salah Abouseif made his first realism film, Laka yom ya zalem ( Your day will come) which was a hit in the box office and critics and presented in Cannes festival. Faten worked with Salah in another two films , El Tafik el masdud (1958) ( The Barred Road) and La wakta lil hub ( 1963) ( NO time for love) which she received best actress award for her roll in it. She also played a roll in director Youssef Shahine first movie Baba Amine (1950) and other realism films by the same director like Siraa Fil-Wadi (1954). Kamal El Shikh was another director whom Faten helped in presenting a new kind of picture to the Egyptian Cinema. They worked together in the first mystery picture El Manzel rakam tletash (1952) ( House No. 13), Lan aataref ( 1962) I will not confess and their best movie El Laila el akhira ( 1964) ( The last Night) which received at least 10 awards in the national competition 1965.

“Two other directors from this generation that Hamama had strong bonds and continuous understanding, they devoted most of their best pictures to her. Thus more success was accomplished, director, Ezzel Dine Zulficar and director Henry Barakat.

On 1947, Faten married to director Ezzel Dine Zulficar during the making of the movie Abu Zeid el Hilali (1947). Ezzel Dine was the king of Romantic movies and Faten was his lead star promoting his vision, such in Khulud (1948) aka Immortality. They had a production company that produced the movie Moawad ma al hayat (1954) aka Appointment with Life, which was movie of the year and knocked critics and audience dead. Critics named Faten the "Lady of the Arabic Screen", the title that remained with her until today. From that moment, Faten reached the highest salary for a superstar, and remained the top paid star until the last feature picture, Ard el ahlam (1993) aka Land of Dreams and TV series, "Wagh el qamar" (2000) (mini) aka "Face of the Moon". More successful romantic roles with Ezzel Dine such Mawad ma al saada (1955) aka Appointment with Happiness. Ezzel Dine's famous quote about Faten was "the distance between Faten and the next runner up is like the distance between 1 to 10". Although they were divorced in 1954, and Faten got married to Omar Sharif in 1955, yet they continued to make such movies that considered best classic romantic, such in Bain el atlal (1959) aka Among the Ruins and their master piece, Nahr el hub (1961) aka The River of Love, the remake of the great story of Leo Tolstoy "Anna Karenina", opposite Omar Sharif that created with Faten one of the best romantic couples through special classic collection as, Ayyamine el helwa (1955) aka Our best days, Sayedat el kasr (1959) aka Lady of the Castle Lady of the Castle La anam (1958) aka Sleepless. Siraa Fil-Wadi (1954) aka Struggle in the Valley. Omar and Faten was divorced on 1974, and yet Omar's famous quote about Faten was when he said "he only married once because he only loved once, referring to his marriage with Faten.

Director Henry Barakat had a focus on musical romantic movies, social differences and women's right in the society. During the making of Lahn al khouloud (1952) aka Immortal Song the harmony of understanding between both, Barakat and Faten was set to ignite more success. Barakat used Faten to explore all his talent and all his visions. The success of the romantic music movie Lahn al khouloud (1952) that became the movie of the year challenged both of them to make more successful musical romantic roles as in, Daiman maak (1954) aka With You Forever, Mawad gharam (1956) aka Appointment with Love. Audiences and critics haven't yet seen best of them, the most classical movie of all times and Faten's most famous role on screen as Ammna in Doa al karawan (1959) aka The Nightgale's Prayer, the movie that describes differences between revenge and culture through a romantic story. It was nominated in Berlin's International festival and almost made it to the Oscar, this movie was chosen as one of best ten movies ever made in Egypt. After this movie, Faten presented more movies that elevated women's right in the society and created more of culture awareness, such in Bab el maftuh, El (1964) aka "The Open Door", where she was awarded best actress award from Jakarta International festival. One year later they did it again in Haram, El (1965) aka "the Sin", the movie that was welcomed by critics in Cannes festival in same year, and was chosen as one of best five movies ever made in Egypt. Faten and Barakat continued their journey together through decades for more outstanding roles as Kheit al rafeigh, -al (1971) aka The Thin Thread, Afwah wa araneb (1977) aka "Mouths and Rabbits", not only that Faten won best actress awards from two international festival on her role in this movie, but it was the highest box office ever made until 1977. Last picture between them was a remarkable hit, as usual Leilet al quabd al Fatma (1984) aka "The Night of Fatma's Arrest". Their journey crowned with a lifetime achievement for their collection together from Montpellier international Festival on 1993. Barakat's famous quote on Faten was when he said "if he could get Faten in his films, he will guarantee us the best picture".

Faten moved out of Egypt between the periods of 1966-1971 because she refused some political pressure applied on actress. She lived between Lebanon and London, UK. During this time, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser requested from some famous critics and writers to ask her to return to Egypt labeling her, as "Faten Hamama is a national Treasure". Her return to Egypt on 1971 was like a life come back to Egyptian cinema. And once again she continued rising and shining amongst all stars from new generations. She insisted that her films adds values and affect the society through the family relationships. Her role in the movie Emberatoriet meem (1972) aka Empire M, as a mother (widow) for six kids and her struggle raising them with a democratically vision was success and welcomed by both "Critics and Publics", she earned a special award from the Soviet Union Women during presenting the movie in Moscow International festival. Her planning and arrangement to make Orid hallan (1975) aka Need a Solution was her biggest strike ever that changed the marriage and divorce law after facing the society of major problems that this law contains. Needless to say that it was another box office hit and Faten won best actress award form Cairo international Festival and a prize of recognition from Tehran Festival. Continued with her vision of touching the society through her pictures, she made more remarkable roles in Oghneyat elmoot (1973) aka The Song of Death, Ualla azae lel sayedat (1979) aka No Condolences for Ladies, Yom mor... yom helw (1988) aka Bitter days, sweet days, her last feature picture of Ard el ahlam (1993) aka Land of Dreams, and her TV series, "Dameer abla Hekmat" (1994) (mini) aka The Consciousness of Teacher Hekmat" and "Wagh el qamar" (2000) (mini) aka "The face of the Moon", where it was a special celebration in 23 countries in middle east to get the right for airing this show.

Faten Hamama, she is the fourth Pyramid in the Egyptian cinema, a legend in her platinum anniversary, the diamond that remained shining and kept its glowing over the decades on the silver screen.”


1. Faten Hamama, Biography, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0357303/bio

2. Faten Hamama, http://www.belly-dance.org/faten-hamama.html

3. Faten Hamama, Biography, http://www.arab-celebs.com/Profile.asp?ID=37