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Umm Kulthum (1996)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 9 October 1996 (USA)
She had the musicality of Ella Fitzgerald, the public presence of Eleanor Roosevelt, and the audience of Elvis Presley. Her name was Umm Kulthum, and she became a powerful symbol, first of ... See full summary »


Michal Goldman


Virginia Danielson (book)
1 win. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Tawfik Badawi Tawfik Badawi ... Tawfik Badawi
Virginia Danielson Virginia Danielson ... Herself
Amal Fahmy Amal Fahmy ... Amal Fahmy
Om Koultoum ... Herself (archive footage) (as Umm Kulthum)
Omar Sharif ... Narrator (voice)


She had the musicality of Ella Fitzgerald, the public presence of Eleanor Roosevelt, and the audience of Elvis Presley. Her name was Umm Kulthum, and she became a powerful symbol, first of the aspirations of her country, Egypt, and then of the entire Arab world. Born a peasant at the turn of the century, she became a woman of great wealth and power, confidant of presidents and kings, and above all, President Gamal Abd al-Nasser's unofficial ambassador in the region. Four million people were on the streets of Cairo for her funeral in 1975. To this day, her cassettes outsell every other Arabic female vocalist. Narrated by Omar Sharif, Umm Kulthum, A Voice Like Egypt is the first documentary to bring Umm Kulthum to an American audience. The film puts her life in the context of the epic story of 20th century Egypt as it shook off colonialism and confronted modernity. The camera explores her astonishing connection with her audience, taking us into her village in the Nile Delta, and into ... Written by Arab Film Distribution

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




Not Rated

Parents Guide:

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Official Sites:

Official site


Egypt | USA


Arabic | English

Release Date:

9 October 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt See more »

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Did You Know?


Om Koultoum: My father was uneasy. The idea that his daughter should sing in front of men he didn't know, was difficult for him to accept, but my singing helped support the family. So he dressed me in boy's clothes, and I sang this way for several years. I realize now that he wanted to convince himself, and the audience too, that the singer was a young boy, and not a young woman.
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User Reviews

The BEST documentary on Umm Kulthum's life ever!!!!
16 May 2011 | by PatrickJTSee all my reviews

Diablo Valley College professor Dr. Bruce Cook pulled out a battered up cassette with this film on it and from the very beginning of the film, I couldn't not pay attention for the rest of my class today.

Approached from both a scholarly and from a popcorn approach, this documentary will entertain both educated and those merely seeking a good hour and a half.

Documenting the life of Umm Kulthum, this film taught me a history that I would have known if it had not been for the fact that Kulthum was not part of the Western musical culture; her music rocked much of Egypt and she was immensely powerful politically and musically there.

From a young girl who performed to make money for her family to an extremely famous musician, watch this film. You're guaranteed to love it if you're interested in ethnomusicology or even if you're just into this kind of thing. A must watch!!!

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