Filmmaking came naturally to Marianne Khoury, the niece of Egypt’s most respected director, Youssef Chahine. Primarily a producer, she started out by producing Chahine’s Adieu Bonaparte (1985) and later worked in collaboration with her husband, Gabriel Khoury. With the appearance of smaller, lightweight cameras in the 1990s, she decided to try directing with the documentary short The Time of Laura and discovered she had a knack for capturing emotion on film. She then paid tribute to Egypt’s pioneering female filmmakers in the two-part documentary Women Who Loved Cinema (2002).
A fascination with mental illness led Khoury to collaborate with director Mustapha Hasnaoui on Zelal (2010), a close look at the lives of patients in two of Cairo’s mental institutions. Her most recent film is perhaps her most personal. Let’s Talk (2019) uses archival footage, family photos and taped interviews with Chahine and other family members to tell the story of four generations of women in her family. Over the course of nine years, Khoury sifted through personal material to offer a compelling, intimate picture of the women in her family and their representation in Chahine’s often autobiographical films. Let’s Talk won the Audience Award at the Cairo International Film Festival.