Mother of the Unborn

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    Mother of the Unborn

    Um Ghayeb

    Directed by

    United Arab Emirates, Egypt


    88 min

    • Arabic


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    People search for unspoken or even absolute truths when it comes to the notions of life and death. Fertility is associated with the miracle of creation, but for countless women around the world it is not necessarily a happy subject. MOTHER OF THE UNBORN looks compassionately at this deeply felt experience. Nadine Salib begins her journey to the south of Egypt, often referred to as the forgotten region, in search of infertile women labeled with the name Mother of the Unborn or Um Ghayeb. These women are often stigmatized, treated as a bad omen and forced to perform ancient fertility rituals rooted in their culture. Salib arrives as an outsider into the world of these women and is brought into the intimate fold of their lives, choices and existence. She is confronted with the same questions about being a woman and about motherhood as the people she meets who share her perspective. What follows is a rich dialogue and a fascinating record of varying encounters and world views. Her film is striking in its poetry and quiet meditation on the notions of death and the creation of life. It takes us deep into the daily lives of unpredictable characters, stories to be told and fabulous beliefs as Salib’s journey transforms into a collective search for belonging.


    • FIPRESCI Award for Best Documentary - Abu Dhabi FF
    • Peter Wintonick Special Jury Award - IDFA



    Nadine Salib
    Sara Yahya
    Micheal Yousef Shafek
    Rami Abadir


    It convincingly captures the stigmatisation of female infertility in Egypt.

    The Gulf Today

    A cinema verité–style portrait of a sensitive, thoughtful and endearing woman carefully examining her life, looking for answers.

    Miguel Pendás, Abu Dhabi FF Blog

    First-time documaker Nadine Salib looks beyond infertility and the deeply rooted, fascinating pre-Islamic superstitions holding sway in the region, allowing her subject a fuller and sadder character not solely tied to issues of motherhood.

    Jay Weissberg, Variety

    Nadine Salib

    Nadine Salib


    Born in Egypt in 1984, Nadine Salib graduated from film school in 2006. She started her career as an assistant director in commercials and then headed to the independent field in the year 2009. In 2011, she joined filmmaking workshops where she directed her first short documentary DAWN, which won the second prize in the Baghdad International Film Festival and the first prize at the 12th Goethe Independent Film Festival. UM GHAYEB (MOTHER OF THE UNBORN) is her first feature-length documentary for which she was supported by IDFA’s Bertha Fund, the Arab Documentary Film Program of the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture and Hot Docs Blue Ice.