There has been a lot of buzz around Ahmad Abdullah's directorial debut Heliopolis. A fresh take on Egyptian cinema, the indie film takes a look at how the lives of five seemingly independent individuals cross within the course of a single day. Through direct and indirect interactions, Abdullah attempted to show just how connected we are, even though we may not know it.

Unfortunately, what may have seemed to be a good idea in theory didn't quite translate into the big screen. The characters are not fully developed, and the pace of the movie made it seem as though time has virtually stopped. Even the presence of high profile stars, including Khalid Abol Naga, Hanan Motawie and Youzra Al Lozy, didn't seem to help.

Fill in the blanks

"I didn't want to go to character study in the screenplay. I wanted to focus more on everyday life and the details within those scenes. Since we all live such lives, we can fill in the blanks ourselves," the Egyptian director explained.

"I didn't want to make this an intensely emotional movie. I wanted to make it seem as those we are peeking into the lives of these characters... as though the door to access their full stories is not quite open, but not quite closed either," he added.

As far as the cast and crew are concerned, it is a labour of love. They refused to be paid for their participation in the movie and even managed to finish filming in just 16 days.

"This shouldn't come as a big surprise to anyone. For a country [Egypt] with such a strong movie industry, there are many such projects that are waiting to be produced, but no one wanted to take the risk," Abol Naga said.

"I vowed never to take a part unless I had fallen in love with the characters. When I saw the script, I was blown away, so I immediately signed on. The fact that I come from Heliopolis also helped to cement the deal," he added.

For Motawie, being a part of this film was a great honour.

"We are introducing a new language to the [world of] cinema. The bitterness that they [the characters] feel in the movie help to connect us all, since we are all part of the same world, with the same frustrations about our lives," she said.