Egyptian cinematographer and former Miss Egypt takes a stance against our generation's collective fear of commitment.
As millennials or generation Zs, it's always fun to go through the lists of phenomenas that bind one generation with the ones before or after it. For millennials specifically - also known as the peter pan generation, probably for their strict refusal to grow up - a social phenomena that seems somewhat abundant among certain social classes is a fear of commitment. The trend of one night stands, flings, un-exclusive or undefined relationships seems to be what's cool now because wearing your heart on your sleeve and being vulnerable is so '80s, apparently.
Cinematographer and fashion photographer, Cherine Shiha, attempts to capture this trend of the "unlabeled relationship" in her most recent short film, "Dedicated to all the a**holes in the world"."We're an apathetic generation. We want the relationship stuff without the actual relationship, without the jealousy and without the exclusivity. We want to connect just enough but not all the way. We hang out but never want to label it as a 'date'. We keep people at a safe distance, in parallel but never together," says Shiha. "And that's bullshit. That's emotional abuse. It’s a roller coaster of emotions. It should be either you’re all in or you’re out."Shiha, who never really followed the status quo or paid heed to societal norms, went into photography and cinematography after dropping out of AUC where she'd been studying graphic design and architecture. The cinematographer, who recently moved back to Egypt after living abroad for a few years, started her own production company, Cherine Shiha Studio. In her recent film, the cinematographer aims to bring something raw, vulnerable and real. “The film is sort of like a series of visual letters and it includes clips from my travels. I’ve always had so much I wanted to say that I’d never said, ” says Shiha. “Initially I thought it was maybe cheesy and dramatic. Then it kind of occurred to me, so what if it is? Why can’t I be cheesy and dramatic if that’s how I feel? If that’s the way you express yourself then why not? You can’t be strong all the time. It’s okay to struggle and to express that you’re struggling.”
For the former Miss Egypt 2015, the film is inspired by true accounts and has a message of vulnerability as well as empowerment in the way with which it sheds light on an epidemic pertaining to the millennial generation and their fear of commitment. "I feel like there are certain moments in relationships where things break, where it feels like things have been shattered. It's like it puts a space between two people, preventing them from ever being as close, and in that moment it feels like we're broken," explains Shiha.
"Self-respect isn't only about verbal abuse or the obvious bad, it's about draining our own energy by choice and giving people more than they deserve. You should always be able to respect yourself enough to take the decision to walk away from anyone or anything that no longer serves you, makes you happy or allows you to grow." Shiha has worked on a variety of projects, both with fashion photography and cinematography, each of which she finds to be a creative outlet in its own way. For the young creative, “cinematography is about emotions, photography is about fashion.” Having worked with both international and local magazines, the likes of Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire, the former model chose this type of photography due to her passion for fashion.
“I’m obsessed with fashion. I used to be a model, so I’ve always been connected to fashion. But I didn’t want to be a model anymore, I wanted to have more control. I wanted to be the one directing the models, and so that’s what I did.”In a society that still leaves much to be desired in ways of gender equality and is still in the budding stages of modern feminism, Shiha pushed through and got to where she wanted to be by defying strictly guarded industry norms.
"When I started, the photography scene was dominated by men, with a few exceptions. It still is. Even on site, it’s always a man. When I started cinematography, a lot of people tried discouraging me by saying it wouldn't work because I'm a girl. Or they'd tell me I'd have a better chance going back to Paris and doing it there. I just told them give me a year and they'd see where I’d be.”
Cinematography and directing: Cherine Shiha
Salma El Kashef
Voice Over: Salma El Kashef
Poster by: Mohammed Abdelkareem