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Meet the 2012 Tribeca Filmmakers #7: ‘The Virgin, the Copts and Me’ Director Namir Abdel Messeeh

Meet the 2012 Tribeca Filmmakers #7: 'The Virgin, the Copts and Me' Director Namir Abdel Messeeh

Namir Abdel Messeeh was born in France to Egyptian Christian parents who hailed from “a very poor village of peasants.”  As a child he would travel to Egypt each year with his parents, but stopped fifteen years ago and lost contact with his relatives. But then he watched a videotape of the Virgin Mary’s apparition in the Egypt village with his mom and decided it was “a wonderful opportunity to travel back to Egypt, and reconnect with my family members, even though I didn’t share their religious beliefs anymore.”

What it’s about: It is the story of a French filmmaker, from egyptian origins, who sees an amateur videotape of an apparition of the Virgin Mary in his mother’s village in Egypt, and who decides to travel to Egypt to investigate the apparition.

Director Messeeh says: “I tried to talk about a serious subject, and about the situation of the Copts in Egypt, but not in a serious way. I wanted the film to be light-toned, and funny. And also I wanted to film my mother. Maybe all this film about the apparitions is just an excuse to film her. ”

On the challenges: “Once the shooting started, the problems started too. Nobody wanted to invest money on the film. 
My mother didn’t want me to film her family in Egypt. My mother’s family in Egypt told me they were afraid to appear in the film, because of my mother’s reaction. My producer didn’t want to produce the film any more. After that, I asked for the Virgin Mary to help me, and to appear in front of my camera to make this film possible. After that, I decided to continue the film alone. Without the Virgin, without my mother, without her family, and without my producer. But then the revolution started in Egypt. So I said to myself: Let’s put all my problems in the film, and turn this documentary about the apparitions of the Virgin, into the story of a filmmaker who has difficulties to make his film. It could be a funny story. That’s when the Virgin Mary decided to help me.”

What’s next: “My future project is to have a baby. Then make another film. My mother asked me to make a real film with real actors, and a real story. So I ‘m thinking about it.”

Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival.

Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.

Below watch two clips:


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