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An interview with the star of "BASRA", Christine Solomon

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An established trained actor; Christine Solomon is of Egyptian, Syrian and Lebanese ethnicity; born in Egypt and raised in Montreal from the age of seven. A member of The Egyptian Actor’s Union, she has performed in a wide range of productions across Canada, United States and Egypt. She is also related to famous Egyptian director Sandra Nashaat.

Christine has been a performer since her tender years and took up gymnastics at the age of eight. She thrived from the very beginning until the age of twelve when she developed an interest in the art of theatre. Solomon began modeling at the age of thirteen after winning several competitions; among them are The International Modeling and Talent Association (IMTA) and Model Search America. The young starlet became professionally involved when she met producer and choreographer Roberto Izzi; known for introducing La Lambada to Canada in the early 90’s. She toured with his theatre company portraying different characters on stage.

Christine Solomon’s big break came in at The Cairo International Film Festival 2006 where she met several directors and agreed to act in two films Balad Al Banat (voice over) and Basra. Now, working and performing abroad as well as in North America, Christine continues to grow and evolve as an actor.

Bijan Tehrani: Please tell me a little about your background, and how you started working in cinema.
Christine Solomon: I was born in Egypt and migrated to Montreal when I was 7. I have been performing since I was a little girl in Egypt, and started modeling at the age of 13. When I really took the decision to act professionally I was 19. I studied theater in college, and when I graduat-ed I got an agent, started auditioning, working and traveling. In March of 2005, I moved to Los Angeles in order to scout the city and explore the business opportunities available there. I quickly joined two theatre companies Actor’s Coop Group and The Dinner Detective Company and began working. I got my first big break at the Cairo Film Festival in 2006. I was introduced to many directors there, and eventually worked in two films Balad Al Banat and Basra. Thankfully, Basra has reached regional and international success, including in Spain, Brazil and throughout Africa. As a result, I have been traveling a lot promoting my film. I feel blessed and grateful for the exposure I have obtained thus far and look forward to the many upcoming film and theatre contracts.

BT: What did you do while you were in the U.S.?
CS: During my time in LA, I completed several projects, including voice-overs, music video, modeling contracts as well as various stage plays. Upon my return to Montreal, I got involved in a play called Holiday Dingles; which has received a lot of success. Subsequently, I received an invitation from renowned Egyptian screenwriter Dr. Medhat Al-Adl to attend The 30th Cairo International Film Festival and this is when my venture to Egypt had begun!

BT: Do you have any other plans for work in Canada?
CS: Yes. I am planning on opening up my own acting career consultancy company, where I would be able to help other actors achieve the success that I have, and guide them on the right path. I just finished a play and we will be showcasing it again this summer at a new Canadian festival called “Chaos Montreal”. This festival will be a parallel to the Just For Laughs. I am writing my third book; it's about what it takes to get your foot in the door, and the techniques for self-promotion. I am also designing merchandise for our first online store for fans in Egypt. There, they will find my designed t-shirts, autographed pictures, posters and so much more! I have been in contact with a few Indian directors, so there is a possibility that I may go to India this year. I have also been in touch with some talented individuals from Los Angeles and even-tually plan on moving back for work purposes.
BT: You really are an international artist in the truest sense. Are you reading a script for a new role currently?
CS: There are two Indian film projects I am currently being considered for. I am reading the scripts right now and trying to figure out if they are roles that interests me. There is also an LA producer that has recently contacted me in regards to a project, but it is not ready right now. At the moment, I am promoting my two feature films, Basra and Heliopolis, which will be released by this year. They are political, the script and acting are great, and I can’t wait for people to see them.

BT: Tell us about your work in theater.
CS: I have done a lot of theater, and consider myself more of a stage actor than a film actor. I just love the stage, and will never let go of that. Film is different, and they both have different feelings. I really enjoy both forms.

BT: What kind of film will you be part of in India?
CS: Well, I have been exposed to Indian film since I was a little girl. I was introduced to it from my parents. I just fell in love with the clothes, the food, the music, the dancing....pretty much everything. I am fascinated by the country, and can’t wait to get involved. I would love to expe-rience both a musical and a more serious film. The scripts I am reading now are musicals, which is very exciting because I would love to learn how to dance. I am also learning Hindi right now, and am in love with the language; it is so beautiful.

BT: Do you have any Egyptian films in the works?
CS: Well, I did have a few offers before leaving to promote my films abroad. But I do want to experience India, which will be before anything else. And then I will take it from there.

BT: Any more about your future plans?
CS: To continue working, exploring, and growing as an individual. Eventually I will move back to LA and work there, but I still want to keep my international work open. It is so much fun to travel. Although I am Egyptian, I grew up in the Western World, and couldn’t remember it at all and my parents didn’t really expose me to the culture, so going back to my country helped me to reconnect with my roots. But LA will be my future plans.

BT: Tell me about your two upcoming Egyptian films?
CS: My first film is called “Basra”, and it is a political film with a touch of romance. It is set in Egypt during the war between the US and Iraq in 2003. The main character is an Egyptian pho-tographer, and it is about how he deals with his life, the war, his work, and his loved ones. I play his ex-girlfriend who still wants him, but he falls in love with someone else. So there is a love triangle in the film. My second film is called “Heliopolis”. Heliopolis is an old city in Cairo, and it is about five different individuals, and what is going on in their life during the course of one day. My character comes to Egypt from living abroad and finds herself stuck in a Heliopolis ho-tel. I play a gothic character never before seen in an Egyptian film. The film’s central message is that everyone is striving to get to their goals, but nothing happens. It is like, “Welcome to Cairo” in a sense, about how things take time, and how slow things take in the city.

BT: What advice would you give aspiring actors?
CS: I don't believe in giving up: if we give up too quickly, we'll never find out how close we were to reaching our dreams. Therefore the best advice I can give is to always follow your heart and never give up.
BT: Thank you Christine for taking time out to chat with me. I would like to let everyone know that, “Basra” has been screened in " Cape Winelands Film Festival " in South Africa ( 21-29 March 2009). Basra has won Best Cinematography Award at The XXIX Mostra De Valencia Film Festival - Spain (2008) and for Best Script Award at The 32nd Cairo International Film Fes-tival - Egypt (2008). It has also been official selected for competition at The 32nd São Paulo In-ternational Film Festival - Brasil (2008) and Pan African Film Festival in Ouagadougou - Burkina Faso (2009).

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