CAIRO, 27 November 2003 — One of the women pioneers of Egyptian cinema, Lebanese producer and actress Mary Kwini, died in Cairo, Egyptian government newspapers reported yesterday.
A funeral was held for Kwini, a Lebanese Christian who died about the age of 90, at a Maronite Church in Cairo, Al-Ahram and Al-Akhbar newspapers reported.
Born in the Lebanese mountain village of Tannurine north of Beirut, she arrived in Cairo in 1923 with her aunt Assia Dagher, who was also a producer and an actress in Egyptian silent films. The two were among the few female Arab producers in the cinema of the early part of the 20th century.
“She was an exceptional and courageous woman, an excellent actress and producer,” said French-Lebanese director Jocelyne Saab, who is in Cairo making a film.
“She put her stamp on a new style” on Arab cinema, and produced “high-level films,” including many, which were popular successes, she added.
Kwini played in her first film about the age of 16 in “Lady of the Desert” in 1929.
She produced around 30 films including “Son of the Nile,” “The Prince of Dreams,” “Women Without Men” and “Dawn of a New Day,” in which the stars of the day like Faten Hamama played. She also acted in many other films, including “The Pasha’s Wife,” “Rabab” and “Prisoner Number 17”.
Mary Kwini married director Ahmed Galal, with whom she founded Galal Studio in 1944, one of the best-known Egyptian studios, and the two had a son, Nader Galal, who also became a film director.