Covered: The Hejab in Cairo, Egypt

A film by Tania Kamal-Eldin

Egypt | 1995 | 25 minutes | Color | DVD | Subtitled | Order No. 00666


Just over a decade ago it was hard to find women on the streets of Cairo who veiled, a custom that their forebearers struggled to overthrow at the beginning of the twentieth century. But today, many Muslim women in Egypt wear a head scarf called the hejab, and in more extreme cases they cover their entire faces. This absorbing documentary offers a rare opportunity to examine the restoration of veiling and the reasons for its pervasiveness through the eyes of Egyptian women. In unique interviews with women of different ages and backgrounds, COVERED reveals that Islamic tradition, religious fundamentalism, and growing nationalism are not solely responsible for decisions to wear the hejab. Diverse social, economic and political factors, as well as personal preferences, often play prominent roles. As timely as it is compelling, the film shows how complex causes account for a phenomenon that is poorly understood outside the Muslim world.


"Kamal-Eldin's eye for the unassuming cultural images truly reflects an informed feminist methodology. She creates social, public spaces for women to tell their stories in very personal, private ways."

Victoria DeFrancisco University of Northern Iowa

"This documentary comes to terms with veiling in a way that is visually interesting and honest with the subject interviewed."

Elizabeth Fernea Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas, Austin

"A provocative film, 'Covered' uncovers the multiple meanings and contradictions in late twentieth century reveiling in Cairo, Egypt."

Margot Badran Author

"This piece is informative, revealing, complex, balanced, and thought-provoking."

Ricardo Block Media Arts Program, Jerome Foundation


  • USA Film Festival
  • Women in the Director's Chair Film and Video Festival
  • New York Exposition of Short Film and Video
  • Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA) Filmfest
  • Women of Color Film and Video Festival


Tania Kamal-Eldin

Tania Kamal-Eldin is an independent filmmaker and educator. Her documentary productions focus on women and Middle Eastern issues with an emphasis on the complex interactions of gender, race and cross-cultural representation. Kamal-Eldin has an MFA in Visual Arts from University of California-San Diego where she was awarded the Jacob Javits Fellowship, as well as a MSC in Political Economy from the London School of Economics. She has taught at the University of California, San Diego, and Palomar College. She has published much fiction including co-authoring a book of short stories. Currently she is an Assistant Professor at American University, School of Communication in Film and Media Arts, in Washington D.C. (8/14)


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