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Shirin Neshat

Looking for Oum Kulthum

A film within a film. The plight of an Iranian woman artist and filmmaker living in exile, as she embarks on capturing the life and art of the legendary Oum Kulthum.

Mitra, an ambitious artist, mother and wife in her late 40s, embarks on her lifelong dream of making a film about her hero, the legendary singer of the Arab World, Oum Kulthum. Her film’s central aim is to explore the struggles, sacrifices and the price of Oum Kulthum’s success as a female artist living in a conservative male dominated society.
Mitra herself achieved fame and success abroad, but her career choices made it impossible to return home, which separated her from her son and family.
The increasing difficulties of capturing Oum Kulthum’s essence as a myth, a woman, and an artist lead Mitra to have a complete breakdown. Now Ghada, an exceptionally gifted actress and singer playing the role of Oum Kulthum, comes to Mitra’s rescue, as she is connected to the core of life and femininity and is naturally wise. Through this Mitra achieves self-realisation and an artistic breakthrough.


Iranian born artist/filmmaker living in New York, Shirin has won the Biennale award twice in 1999 with her video work and in 2009 with her first feature film “Women Without Men” which received the “Silver Lion Award”. Her photographic and video works have been displayed in all the greatest museums. She received the Chrystal Award in 2014 at the Davos World Economic Forum. Shirin Neshat has worked on her script “Looking for Oum Kulthum” with Shoja Azari and
Jean-Claude Carrière, one of most respected writers and also winner of the Academy Honorary

Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari

Martin Gschlacht

Production Design:
Erwin Prib

Costume Design:
Mariano Tufano

Claus Benischke-Lang

Nadia Ben Rachid

Razor Film, Germany
Coop99, Austria
Agora Films, Morocco
In Between Art Film, Italy