The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

Arts & Culture

‘Ward Massmoum’: Egypt’s Entry for the Academy Award for Best ‎International Feature Film

arts arts & culture cairo cinema cinemas Culture egypt Egyptians event events feature features film films Oscars
‘Ward Massmoum’: Egypt’s Entry for the Academy Award for Best ‎International Feature Film
written by
Kareem Sheta

Featured image


Since the inception of the Academy Award, more popularly known as the Oscars, Egypt has submitted approximately 34 films for Best International Feature Film, formerly termed Best Foreign Language Film. Unfortunately, none of these submissions have ever been selected as an Oscar nominee.


Despite all obstacles, there will always be light at the end of the tunnel, and we hope that such a lifechanging milestone will be achieved with this year’s submitted entry. Director, Fawzi Saleh, presented his debut feature film, Ward Massmoum (Poisonous Roses), based on Ahmed Zaghloul Al-Shiti’s 1990 novel, for the 92nd Academy Awards that will take place in February 2020.


According to, the drama tells of a poor young girl, Taheya, a janitor with no life except the one she shares with her brother, Sakr, who plans to illegally emigrate to Italy. Potentially leaving her to fight off the terrors and endure the life of the mud-filled alleyways on her own, she strives to prevent his plans from happening. Ahram Online states that the film has already participated in dozens of film festivals across the globe, winning three awards at the 40th Cairo International Film Festival.


The cast of Ward Massmoum is an interesting one, starring veteran actor, Mahmoud Hemeda, and actress, SafaaAltoukhy. Some young stars also shone in this movie, including Ibrahim Alnaggari, who plays the brother and has starred in some high-profile films such as HenaMaysara (When the Ship Comes In), Kaf El Kamar (Moon’s Palm), and series, such as Shams. As for the heroine, played by Marihan Magdy, her acting background is equally impressive, known for her work on the TV screen, such as Abo El Aroosa (Father of the Bride)Wanoos, and Alshuq (The Yearning). 

IMDb rates the movie with a 5.5/10, and in an excerpt of one of its posted reviews, the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema states, “With documentary energy, the beginning of Poisonous Roses attacks every sense at once and throws us, without warning, into the hells of Cairo’s tanneries.”

The final five nominees will be announced in January 2020, so fingers crossed until then and let’s hope and pray that the start of 2020 will mark a lifechanging moment in Egyptian history.