Actress Nora Armani was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the opening ceremony of the 38th annual Alexandria Film Festival on Wednesday, October 5, at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. In attendance were Egyptian film star and producer Mahmoud Hemeda, after whom this edition of the festival is named, Deputy Minister of Culture Dr. Khaled El Galili, festival director and film critic Al Amir Abaza, as well as a host of Egyptian, Arab and European movie stars.
“My roots are here in Egypt. I like the work of Faten Hamama and Soad Hosny. I would be delighted to be back and work in the Hollywood of the Middle East in addition to my work in the USA, France and Armenia,” said Armani during a press conference, where she also addressed her stage work with the late Gamil Rateb, her future plans and the 2023 Netflix feature film Absolute Dominion. A number of interviews for Egyptian TV and a host of media and print outlets followed.
On Sunday, October 9, Armani met with the students and faculty of the Egypt-Japan University for Science and Technology (E-JUST) in Borg El Arab, Alexandria, where she shared her artistic journey and answered students’ questions. The session was moderated by Abaza.
Armani was born in Cairo, Egypt, to Armenian parents. A versatile actress with multiple awards, she is a deeply rooted activist and humanitarian. Fluent in six languages, Armani holds a master’s degree in theatre from Hunter College CUNY and an M.Sc. in sociology from LSE, University of London. She has trained at RADA, UCLA and numerous workshops such as Ariane Mnouchkine’s acclaimed Théâtre du Soleil (Paris) and Simon McBurney’s Complicity Theatre (London).
Most recently, Armani was filmed for the Netflix feature film Absolute Dominion directed by Lexi Alexander to be released in early 2023. Labyrinth, a feature film in which Armani co-stars with Serge Avedikian, directed by Mikayel Dovlatyan, recently premiered in Armenia and will be released in Paris soon.
Armani’s multiple screen credits as an actor include I am Gitmo (Cannes), La Nouvelle Eve (with Karin Viard), Voisin Voisine (with Anemone), Le Coeur à l’Ouvrage (France), Deadline in Seven Days (Armenia), Labyrinth (Armenia), Chasing Taste, Good Funk, Bourek, Last Station, Santa Claus in Baghdad and numerous shorts. She has a powerful screen and stage presence and interprets lead roles in English, French, Armenian, Arabic and Italian. TV roles include “Black List: Redemption” (NBC), “Casualty” (BBC), “Golden Boy” (CBS), and “Al Asdiqaa – The Friends” (Egyptian TV). A film she directed, iMigrant Woman, won her the Best Woman Filmmaker of a Short award at the Toronto Independent Film Festival (Cift). Her role in Labyrinth has earned her the Best Actress Award at the Syunik Film Festival.
Armani’s forthcoming work includes a solo performance in her own English translation of Mercedes and Zaruhi, written in Armenian by Anush Aslibekyan, a playwright and theatre critic from Armenia. Armani will present the play in English at the UnitedSolo Theatre Festival on Theatre Row in an Off-Broadway production. The play is about repatriations to the Soviet Union told through the correspondence between two sisters.
Among her expansive stage repertory is the multiple award-winning play Sojourn at Ararat/Le Chant d’Ararat, created with stage partner Gerald Papasian. Recent stage work includes her self-penned Back on the Couch with Nora Armani, performed on Theatre Row in New York and on tour. Armani has performed plays in over 25 cities on four continents in multiple languages.
Armani’s work as an actress, writer and director has earned her many awards and accolades, but being appreciated in Egypt, her birthplace has special meaning. “It is most important to be appreciated by your own people in your own family, as that is home, and coming home is the warmest of all feelings. My sincere thanks to the director of the festival, film critic Al Amir Abaza, for this special honor that brought tears to my eyes,” said the actress. Armani is immensely touched to be awarded in Alexandria where she spent her childhood summers.
Currently, Armani divides her time between the US and France. She is the founding artistic director of one of New York’s important film events, the SR Socially Relevant Film Festival NY, which celebrates its tenth anniversary next spring. The festival has screened over 600 films from 40 countries to date.