A Chat With Haya Khairat: The Egyptian Filmmaker Set To Nab The Cinematographer Award At Cannes

Cinematic prowess is no easy skill, it’s one that is reserved to a special few and Haya Khairat is proving to be one such individual. The young Egyptian filmmaker has proven herself as an exceptional cinematographer whose talent got recognized and will be celebrated at the Cannes Film Festival were she will be the first Egyptian to receive an Angénieux Special Encouragement Award, one that spotlights emerging young talents in the film industry.

Speaking with Khairat, whose biggest role models include Emmanuel Lubezki and Nadine Labaki, we got to learn more about her journey with cinematography as well as her take on the Cannes award. Stepping back into her youth, Khairat started off the conversation by recalling her early beginnings, “I’ve always been into art – since I was 7 it all started. I began with basic photography with my dad, every Sunday we’d hit up a different spot in Cairo to shoot some photos. Then on our way back home, we’d stop by a studio to develop the films – it’s something I looked forward to each week.”

During her childhood, Khairat’s imagination was her ultimate superpower and is what pushed her towards the world of cinema, “when I was a kid, I’d always imagine music videos and films playing out in my head, especially if I was in a car ride with my parents. Everything inspired me, the traffic lights, crowds, people passing by.” Her passion grew into talent when she got her first DSLR back when she was 16 years old and from there, she took on many projects including shooting proms, graduation ceremonies and the like. That all built up to her eventually taking the decision to study cinematography.

Fast forward a couple of years and there is Khairat, with her debut short film “Dark Chocolate”, one that won the Audience’s Best Short Film Award at the Cairo International Film Festival. Now, the artist is set to head to Cannes and lastly we asked her about her upcoming award, Khairat expressed sheer excitement, “it is a dream come true to go to Cannes as a filmmaker, and not only that, I am being encouraged to become better, my work is being appreciated for what it is, I am being seen.. literally by the world.. It really is an indescribable feeling”.

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