After the success of her latest documentary, Talking To The Trees (known as The Girl From the Brothel), Director Ilaria Borrelli tackles a new documentary about young girls, this time in Egypt.
We sat down with Borrelli and French producer Dominque Pinault during the El Gouna Film Festival to know more about their new collaboration, The Goat.
By Aliaa Elsherbini
Can you tell us what The Goat is about?
IB: The Goat is the story of a little girl who narrowly escapes a forced marriage in a little community in the desert, thanks to a series of events involving a Canadian multi-national company that wants to take over the only water spring of the community to make bottled mineral water.
So, to save the spring, the little girl has to travel seven days in the desert to bring back her father, the official owner of the spring.
What motivated you to come and film in Egypt?
DP: We were looking for a desert, and on a trip we were taking, we met an Egyptian woman who talked to us about Siwa, and urged us to visit, as it is so beautiful. So we went to Siwa and did some scouting and it is really beautiful and poetic and has never before been shot for the cinema so we thought it would be a wonderful idea to film there.
Can you tell us more about the theme of the movie and the reason behind creating a story about forced marriage and other contemporary problems we see in the world right now like multi-nationals exploiting resources?
DP: Multi-nationals are taking over, and they can even be stronger than states as we see in Brazil for example and other places in the world where they take the recourses of poorer countries killing all the possibility of life and culture and everything else.
This and forced marriage are one of the themes of the movie because we know that they happen and they put women’s lives at stake. Forced marriage is a main subject because children should not get married before 18 years old, and that should be a law but we do not have that law yet.
Ilaria, what inspired you to be a film and documentary maker?
IB: Originally, I trained as an actress and started to work on TV series and films but I felt that the scripts were always very fake and not close enough to my real life and to women I knew, I always had to pretend to be a little stupid girlfriend or a wife.
So I wanted to portray in my own writing more realistic women, women who work and have dreams and want to change the world.
Portraying little girls seems to be a recurring theme in your movies. Looking back at the latest one, The Girl from the Brothel addresses sex trafficking of young girls in Cambodia. Is that a theme you wish to continue to explore in other parts of the world?
IB: I think today to talk about little girls in difficult situations is the most urgent because if these little girls don’t go to school, they will become discriminated against. I would love to tell the stories of all the little girls, like the one from The Girl from the Brothel which you can find on Amazon Prime.
There are so many difficult situations for girls around the world, so my main concern in these films is giving opportunity to little girls who do not have a voice.
What’s the filming status of The Goat at the moment?
DP: We know where we are going to film in Siwa, and now we are casting and looking for a 12-year-old little girl. We found a lot of very good ones for the role, and we have Egyptian stars with us stars like Nelly Karim and Youssra.
IB: We also have American actors who are interested in being part of the movie. This is a French, Italian, American and Egyptian co-production so it is very special. And since yesterday, we have the great news that Naguib Sawiris wants to co-produce this important film.
It is exciting because it is really an international film production shot in Egypt, we are aiming for big international film festivals, and we are thrilled with how it is coming along.
When will the film be released?
DP: I think around next winter, so a year from now.
IB: Actually, our dream is to open the next El Gouna Film Festival with The Goat.