Culture is No Excuse for Abuse

His Cucumber at the Censored Women Film Festival

His Cucumber at the Censored Women Film Festival

by Sharine Atif


My short film, His Cucumber, is a piercingly frank account of a young Egyptian woman who confronts her harasser. The short went viral on social media on release, reaching half a million views in a few weeks, sparking hostile reactions, even death threats. However, the majority of the passionate commentary was positive. The short then started showing at film festivals.

Starting in the spring of 2016, His Cucumber was selected for the CalArts Film Directing Showcase at the RedCat Theater in Los Angeles. Being a student at CalArts for me was a way in for such an opportunity, where not just students and faculty at the university screened the film, but a vast Los Angeles audience were also able to see it on the big screen.

In the summer of 2016, His Cucumber was selected at the Les Femmes Underground Film Festival screening at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles. I was not able to be present, because I was in Egypt shooting my thesis film in the desert but, when I got back, I received an honor certificate in the mail, a symbol of accomplishment that can be framed and hung on the wall. Most importantly, of course, it was another appreciated opportunity for the film’s message to be heard, stay alive and be seen by more audiences.

In the winter of 2016 His Cucumber was selected to screen at the Censored Women’s Film Festival (CWFF), hosted by Honor Diaries in Berlin. Even though CWFF was a very young film festival, it seemed to stand strong with its mission to create a space where the voiceless can be voiced, in the context of censored women.

The festival has a strong sense of community. It’s not just a place where a group of women filmmakers come together during the film festival then ends once it’s over. Instead, true friendships come to fruition and discussions on the topic of women empowerment are formed.

CWFF is a diverse film festival, and they are continuing to tour my short film amongst others, first in Berlin, then in Miami and now in New York City. Also, the context in which CWFF tour their films is diverse, from educational institutes like Brooklyn College’s Film School, to NGO settings such as the United Nations. CWFF does not limit itself to one shape or form, as most typical festivals do. It has a voice of its own and extends its branches to all territories that fall under women who make films to empower. I am honored to be part of that community.