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Leading Actors, Filmmakers Talk Representation and Uplifting Diverse Voices at Red Sea Women in Cinema Summit at Cannes

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Jamie Lang For one of this year’s Variety Global Conversations Summit at Cannes, a group of leading women actors and filmmakers from around the world joined Variety’s Nick Vivarelli to discuss how they got into the business, what motivates them and some of the groundbreaking roles they’ve played.

Egyptian actor Salma Abu-Deif (“El-Asliyyin”) discussed her recent turn in the series “Highest Viewing Rate,” which tells the true story of a girl from a poor family who becomes obsessed with TikTok and uses the platform to escape her daily life.

According to Abu-Deif, the show has impacted some traditionally strict Arab parents who have watched it and gained a better understanding of some issues their children face. “I love that I saw Arab parents saying, ‘Oh, maybe we need to listen to our kids, even if it’s against how we were raised or how we think culture should be.’ At the end of the day, culture is just an idea, you know?” Director and screenwriter Ramata Toulaye-Sy talked about her feature debut “Banel & Adama,” which screened at Cannes last year.

Although she was born and raised in Paris, both of Toulaye-Sy’s parents are Senegalese. That relationship is why she decided to film her debut in Senegal rather than France.

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