Looking For Oum Kulthum

by Shirin Neshat in collaboration with Shoja Azari

Looking For Oum Kulthum


Mitra is an ambitious artist in her forties who embarks on her dream project of making a film about the legendary Egyptian singer and diva Oum Kulthum. Her film explores the struggles, sacrifices and the price of Oum Kulthum's success as a female artist in a male dominated society. However, having left her family behind for her career and in her efforts to capture the essence of Oum Kulthum as a myth, a woman and an artist, Mitra's own struggles blend with those of the singer and she finds herself caught in an emotional and artistic breakdown.


Shirin Neshat is an Iranian born artist/filmmaker living in New York, Shirin has among many other awards won an Art Biennale award in 1999 for the video art works Turbulent and Rapture and a Silver Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival in 2009 for her first feature film Women Without Men.

Neshat started her career in photography and gained attention with the Unveiling (1993) and Women of Allah (1993-97) photo series before going on to video art and feature film. Her art works have been exhibited in the most important museums around the world. She was awarded the Dorothy and Lilian Gish Prize in 2006 and in 2010 Huffington Post named her Artist of the Decade. Neshat also received the Crystal Award in 2014 at the Davos World Economic Forum.

In 2013, she was a member of the Berlinale jury. That same year she directed Illusions & Mirrors, a short film commissioned by Dior in collaboration with director of photography Darius Khondji and starring Natalie Portman. Two years later she was photographed by Annie Leibovitz for a series of portraits of the world's most inspiring women for the Pirelli Calendar.

Shirin Neshat is currently directing her first opera, AIDA, at the 2017 Salzburg Festival. 

2017: Looking for Oum Kulthum
2009: Women Without Men


Neda Rahmanian
Yasmin Raeis
Mehdi Moinzadeh
Kais Nashif


director Shirin Neshat
in collaboration with Shoja Azari
writers Shirin Neshat, Shoja Azari
director of photography Martin Gschlacht
production designer Erwin Prib
art directors Attila Planegger, Halima Zniber
costume designer Mariano Tufano
editor Nadia Ben Rachid
composer Amine Bouhafa
co-producers Souad Lamriki, Benedicte Bellocq, Marta Donzelli
producers Gerhard Meixner, Roman Paul, Bruno Wagner, Antonin Svoboda, Martin Gschlacht
executive producer Jérôme de Noirmont

Technical Data

format DCP / colour / 1.85:1 / 5.1
length 90 min.
original languages English, Arabic, Farsi

Go back