Egypt, A Love Song

Director and Producer Iris Zaki, Producer Peter Hutchison
Egypt, A Love Song


Director Iris Zaki takes her father on a journey that spans generations and continents, unpacking the complex relationship of Jewish/Arab identity and culture, as they follow in the footsteps of her grandmother’s remarkable story. Souad Zaki was a celebrated Jewish-Arabic singer in 1940’s Egypt, starred in films alongside Umm Kulthum and became famous throughout the Arab world. She married to a renowned Muslim musician—Mohamed Elakkad, with whom she had a son. After Mohammed abandoned her with their child, Souad fled to Israel, where she was consigned to live a double life of cleaning lady by day, and singer by night. The film brings Souad’s tempestuous story to life, in a sweeping project that crosses cultures, religions and generations. The extraordinary saga of the family unfolds through the combination of scripted period scenes from Souad’s life, rare archival materials and an intimate father-daughter journey that cuts deep into family dynamics through unfiltered conversations, continuing Iris’ signature documentary style, this time exploring her own complex identity.

This project was selected to participate in the JSP-Good Docs Education-Impact Program. To learn more about screening opportunities, click here. 

Phase of Support: Production

Project Links

Iris Zaki

Iris Zaki - Director, Producer

Dr. Iris Zaki is a Grierson award-winning filmmaker with a signature cinematic style. Her films Women in Sink and Unsettling have shown at numerous festivals and universities around the world, winning many prestigious international awards. They were featured on TV internationally and were commissioned by The New York Times for two OpDocs shorts: Shampoo Summit and Natural Born Settler, attracting millions of online viewers. Iris did her PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London, where she explored her innovative interviewing technique—the Abandoned Camera, as well as community representation and ethics in documentary filmmaking. While working on her current project, Iris is teaching documentary filmmaking for BA and MA students at Sapir College in Israel, while also giving masterclasses in Europe and the U.S.

Peter Hutchison

Peter Hutchison - Producer

Peter Hutchison is an award-winning filmmaker, NY Times Bestselling author, educator & activist. His films include Requiem for the American Dream: Noam Chomsky and the Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power (Netflix). The more recent Healing From Hate: Battle for the Soul of a Nation (Freestyle/MEF) – an exploration of hate group activity as seen through the lens of masculinity – has been described as a “raw masterpiece”. Devil Put the Coal in the Ground, a holistic look at the ravages of extractive industry and corporate power in West Virginia, is slated for festival release in early 2022. His longstanding commitment to issues around male identity has resulted in the films You Throw Like A Girl: The Blind Spot of Masculinity (MEF), Angry White Men: Masculinity in the Age of Trump (Grasshopper), and newly released, The Man Card: White Male Identity Politics from Nixon to Trump (MEF).

Project logline and bios courtesy of the grantees.