Egyptian Director Discusses Inspirational Film
Wall Street Journal Reporter Nancy Youssef Interviews Documentarian Mayye Zayed
Washington, DC -- In an exclusive video released today, Wall Street Journal national security reporter Nancy A. Youssef interviews director Mayye Zayed about her 2020 documentary, Lift like a Girl, which offers a rare glimpse into the little-known world of female weightlifting in Egypt through the experience of one of the youngest trainees, a 14-year-old girl nicknamed “Zebiba.” The film captured awards at the Cairo International Film Festival, the Leipzig DOK Festival, and the Critics Award for Arab Films.
The wide-ranging interview was originally presented after a July screening of “Lift like a Girl” sponsored by the Institute’s Aeder Family LINK initiative which provides innovative programs for young professionals from across the Washington policy community.
During her conversation with journalist Youssef, Zayed discusses overcoming obstacles in completing the film, women’s representation in sports and media, as well as the filmmaker’s future projects.
“This is a movie about Egypt because you get to see Egypt that you don't really usually see in the news,” Zayed explains. “You get to see Egyptian women; they’re different than the stereotype that sometimes is presented in Western media… But again it’s a story that can happen anywhere in the world. It would be amazing if the film can change the perspective or break the stereotypes not only about Egyptian women but about women in general.”
Zayyed is now showing her film to children in schools and community centers across Egypt. “I felt that this story can be inspiring to other people, especially to young girls, because we don't see that many female role models in films,” she says. “I felt that it would be nice if I can just capture this female weightlifting community and show them to the world so that people can see that dreams do come true if you really work hard.”
Nancy A. Youssef is a national security correspondent whose reporting has focused largely on the U.S. military and the Arab world. A Washington, D.C.-native, she is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Georgetown University.