Fadi al-Lawand: Back to Egypt

Fadi al-Lawand Sherif Awad

Fadi al-Lawand Sherif Awad

Fadi al-Lawand Sherif Awad

by Sherif Awad

With the start of the Egyptian film industry during the early days of the 20th century, Cairo became a new Mecca for Arab artists, musicians and cineastes where they launched their career and gained their stardom. One of those artist is Fadi al-Lawand whose late father Shaaban al-Lawand was a multidisciplinary artist working as songwriter, painter and calligrapher.

Nicknamed Sheikh of artists in Lebanese media, Shaaban al-Lawand moved to Kuwait where his son Fadi was born then to Cairo where the family lived for thirty years. The father was renowned in the Egyptian cinema industry being the painter of posters and artworks of films on billboards and cinema theaters. He also designed album covers for cassettes released by Morris Iskander’s Morriphone, the music company responsible for early albums by the Tunisian Latifa, the Moroccan Samira Said, the Algerian Warda and the Saudi Talal al-Madah.

“In Cairo, I lived in Dokki for thirteen years”, remembered Fadi. “I was a student at the very well-known al-Orman School. All my childhood’s memories across Egypt are still kept in my mind and my heart”.
Since he was five years old, Fadi was influenced by his father’s practice being related to the film industry which allowed the son to meet actors like Mahmoud Yassin and his wife Shahira, actress Isaad Younes during her early career and veteran film and TV director Tayseer Abood. “During the seventies, I was fascinated by Egyptian theater specially comedies made by Mohamed Sobhy like the popular play al-Joker”, explained Fadi. “At school, I was the best child actor, either performing or imitating famous artists. However, in the late eighties, our family returned to Beirut. There were difficult times during the Civil War going on in Lebanon. We needed to go back because my father could not renovate his Egyptian residency visa anymore”
In Beirut, Fadi ventured into acting as a professional when he was only fourteen years old. My first experience was on The Piccadilly Theatre at Hamra Street with the late actor Ibrahim Maraachli co-starring in a comic play called Ibrahim Effendi and the 40 Thieves. The following acting experiences came with another iconic comedian Mahmoud Mabsot who was famous performing the comic character Fahman which he played for several years. “Growing up, I studied arts at the Lebanese university while appearing in several Lebanese serials on LBC, Future and many TV stations”, he says. “Later, starting from the year 2000, I was travelling across the Arab world performing plays I also wrote and directed at Arab theatrical festivals in Muscat, Jerash and Doha .
Four years later, the family decided to move again. This time, Fadi, his wife and his father Shaaban al-Lawand were relocated in Belgium. “Arriving in Europe, it was difficult to continue in the art field during my first years”, remembered Fadi who spent quite a time working and finalizing European residency paper-works for himself and the whole family.
“I returned to the Middle East artistic scene when I was invited as jury member of the short film competition at the 2014’s Muscat film festival along with Egyptian star Nabila Ebeid as jury president. Many Egyptian celebrities were there and so I was very happy to reconnect again”, he remembers,
Fadi eventually came back to Egypt this year after two decades of absence. It was in Aswan International Women Film Festival whose organizers invited him among many other international celebrities. “I became the festival’s representative in Europe after meeting its president Mohamed Abd el-Khalek and its directed Hassan Abou el-Ela at Malmo Arab Film Festival last year”, explained Fadi. “I wanted to do anything for Egypt, a country I adore and so I started to contact European media and artists to invite them to Aswan to promote the newborn festival and Egypt. After attending the first edition that took place last February, I can say that Aswan festival has a great potential in promoting tourism and culture specially in the Upper-Egyptian region. Egyptians have a great way in welcoming foreigners and communicating with other cultures. This is why visitors who came like to return.
Back to Flanders, Fadi succeeded to establish EMIEA. “The name stands for Espace Mondiale d’Interculture Euro-Afrique, or the World Space for Intercultural Euro-African”, explains Fadi. “It is a new association that will venture into organizing a new African-European festival and many other artistic events to withstand the dialogue between Europe and Africa. On the other hand, I hope to finalizing several coproduction deals between Egyptian film companies and their European counterparts to release quality feature films un the near future.

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