Liz Shackleton talks to Mohamed Khan about his romantic drama, which received a gala screening at DIFF.

Mohamed Khan’s Factory Girl tells the story of a young factory worker, Hiyam, who falls in love with her boss but is rejected by him due to their social differences.

Khan worked with first-time feature producer Mohamed Samir on the film, which is backed by seven international funds.

Scripted by Khan’s wife Wessam Soliman, the film received a gala screening at DIFF.

What gave you the inspiration for the story?

The desire to portray the life of a working class girl – her family surroundings, her life at work and with friends – in what is basically a story of love that is denied in a tense city.

How did Wessam Soliman research the script?

To understand Hiyam’s world, she worked at a clothes factory incognito with the cooperation of the owner of the factory. During this experience, she was able to mingle with the other women working in the factory and listen to all sorts of tales which eventually inspired her to write the script. 

How does the character of Hiyam compare to the female characters in your previous films?

She is completely different to all the other female characters I have presented. She comes from a working class background while the women in my previous films were either middle-class or extremely poor. Hiyam and her younger sister, although they have different fathers, are breadwinners working in a factory to support their own family; a typical working-class family where the mother is a house-to-house vendor, stepfather a van driver, aunt a phone centre receptionist and part-time servant in upper class homes.

What convinced you to work with a first-time feature producer?

I guess once in a while you follow your own instincts and I felt that working with a young ambitious filmmaker with a passion for films is an ideal choice to bring the project to life. Mohamed Samir’s experience in the film field through editing in advertising and producing short films, alongside my own long experience as a film director, created a natural exchange of experiences that I felt would help the independent spirit of our movie, away from mainstream dogma.

How did you find starting production on the film without having the full budget in place?

Working under enormous budget stress that relies on sporadic funding was a new and completely exhausting but challenging experience, which eventually turned out to be most rewarding once the film was complete. Even with my own past experiences, finding solutions to daily problems was itself exhilarating; learning to cope with what’s available without compromising one’s own vision.

Do you think your next film will also be an independent production?

Most probably my next film will go through similar phases and I accept that in an economically ailing film industry. Acknowledging independent production is an inevitable solution to supporting ambitious cinema.