Screencap of Mona Zaki giving a video messages to her fans, December 29, 2017 – YouTube/Mona Zaki
CAIRO – 29 December 2017: Leading Egyptian actress Mona Zaki will be honored in the second edition of the Aswan Women's Film Festival, which runs from February 20 until February 26, 2018.
Born on November 18, 1976, Mona Ali Mohamed Zaki is considered to be amongst the most popular actresses in Egypt today, though originally she never even intended to become an actress. Her career began by sheer accident, when she met director Mohamed Sobhi while she was still studying at university. She had her first acting role in his play, “Bila’raby al-Faseeh” (In Formal Arabic) at the age of 16.
Zaki is well educated, having studied in England and Kuwait prior to her enrollment in a degree in Mass Communications, and went on to take acting classes in the U.S. What was once a hobby grew into a full passion for Zaki, who went on to star in over 30 Egyptian films since the 1990s, along with her prolific work in the television industry. Known as 'Egypt's sweetheart', she is also popular in romantic comedies, such as “El-Hob El-Awal” (The First Love) and “Sahar El-Layali” (Late Nights), according to Ahram Online.
In 2016, Zaki was awarded the Murex D'Or award for her performance in the Ramadan TV series “Afrah El-Qoba” (The Ooba Weddings). The series, directed by Mohamed Yasine, was adapted from a novel by Naguib Mahfouz. Zaki played the narrator, Tahia Abdou, who is a young actress that is part of a theatre group. Their latest play is actually a recounting of their lives and their deepest secrets, which their leader believes could help them into salvation.
Among Zaki's other notable roles include a 2001 biopic on the life of President Anwar El-Sadat, “Ayam El-Sadat” (Days of Sadat), and 2003 romantic drama film “Sahar El-Layaly” (Sleepless Nights), for which she was awarded the Best Actress award at the Damascus Film Festival and the Paris Biennal of Arab Cinema. She has been married to Egyptian actor Ahmed Helmy since 2002.
Secretary-General of the Festival Amira Atef said that Zaki was chosen because of her extensive contributions to Egyptian cinema, according to Ahram Online.
"Zaki has tackled women’s issues in many of her films, and portrayed the struggles of women of different backgrounds in films including ‘An El-Eshq Wel Hawa’ (2006), ‘Ehky Ya Shahrazad’ (2009), ‘Taimour We Shafika’ (2007), ‘Sahar El-Layaly’ (2003), ‘Dam El-Ghazal’ (2005), and ‘Edhak El-Soura Tetlaa Helwa’ (1998)," Atef stated.
The Aswan Women's Film Festival is dedicated to women in film both locally and abroad, highlighting the best work of female actresses and directors while also bringing to light issues faced by women from all walks of life. It is organized by the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism, in association with the National Assembly of Women.
Last year's festival honored actress Naglaa Fathy.