One of the most beautifully mysterious actors of our time, Mr. Ralph Fiennes will be in Cairo, presenting his latest directorial project ‘The White Crow’ — about a childhood idol of mine, ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev — and for a conversation with the audience inside the massive Cairo Opera House. Moderated by yours truly.
It’s a momentous event, but I almost missed it.
So, let me go back to a few months ago, when I first thought of myself as a modern day Wonder Woman and imagined jumping from the Cairo Film Festival onto Doha for their Ajyal youth film festival and then onward at the speed of light to Marrakech for their resurgent festival there. I was delusional of course, with my schedule, current energy levels and obligations, and thankfully my angel friend pointed it out. He was the man I listened to about everything in the last few years, my reason to get up in the morning and write.
This past week, he left us. He left this world, and left me. To deal with the fact that I had long stopped loving what I do just for the sheer writing joy of it, and had begun to write for him. To hear his thoughts, see the pride in his face and get his approval. I also wrote so I could spend film festivals in his presence and share flats with him and his publicists companions. He and I were going to be in Morocco together, attend this party and that dinner, we planned our wardrobes. I even bought him a special Calvin Klein white crisp shirt in NYC — the line designed by Raf Simons of course. It was all planned, tickets bought, hotels booked and I’d since said no to all other events, including Cairo. He said I couldn’t do it all, and I wanted to do everything with him.
Thankfully, in mid-October a little voice deep inside me said “ask to moderate this talk.” It was actually more of a knee jerk reaction to the press release I received indicating that Mr. Fiennes would be in Cairo. I’d so long admired his complicated characters, those nuances of great charm that made his bad guys sexy and his good guys — well, the more likable ones — bad boy-ish, sultry and complex. It was worth a shot. A combination of greatness, one high up from the Cairo Film Fest and the other from the festival’s international publicist, two beautiful people who conspired to make it happen. “Yes,” I was told. The rest, as they say, is history.
The talk “In Conversation with Ralph Fiennes” is scheduled on the 27th of November, at 4.30 in the afternoon at the Cairo Opera House. If you’re in town, don’t miss it.
Actually, the final part of this story is that I won’t be going to Marrakech after all. It’s too painful to see film places without my angel, my best friend, and my inspiration. A common friend called to ask me the other day what he would have wanted. That we be there or not, without him? I thought, well, he wanted to be there, and in the end, that’s all that matters.
And I can’t wait to be in Cairo, with all the great films, cinematic encounters and endless possibilities the festival presents this year, under its new President, writer and producer Mohamed Hefzy. Do read my interview with him on The National, to prepare.