The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) announces today the latest documentary projects to receive grants from the Arab Documentary Film Program (ADFP), AFAC’s special fund for documentary filmmakers from the Arab World, in partnership with the Sundance Institute. For the third consecutive year, ADFP awards a total of $350,000 USD in support for 13 new feature-length documentary projects, in the stages of development, production, and post-production. Together with the first and second editions, ADFP is supporting 44 new documentary film projects from the Arab world and cultivating a new generation of dedicated filmmakers seeking to shed light on narratives that are usually neglected, forgotten or taboo.
ADFP’s 2012 jury committee combined film experts from different backgrounds and nationalities: Senior Consultant for the Documentary Program at the Sundance Institute Bruni Burres, filmmaker and director of photography Kirsten Johnson, the Dubai Film Festival Artistic Director Masoud Amrallah Al-Ali, and filmmaker Joana Hadjithomas.
After a series of comprehensive discussions in the AFAC offices in Beirut, the jury selected 5 projects in development and 8 in production/post-production.
Commenting on the selection, the jury issued the following statement: "The intellectual forays of a Lebanese architect, the 1972 Munich Olympics revisited, the struggle and determination of a homeless mother in Tunisia, love stories from Palestine, an underground music movement in Egypt - with such a wide range of subjects, it could be difficult to see what unites our selection of grantees. We chose directors who liberate themselves from the weight of the past and the confusion of the present to create works of singular vision. They are completely taken by the difficult question of where to place the camera when facing urgent and ntimate events unfolding before them and they are exploring with personal and original techniques the varying usage of cinematic language to tell their remarkable stories."
ADFP 2012 winning projects are:
Project Title: A Folktale of Palestine
Director: Dahna Abourahme
A Folktale of Palestine depicts epic love stories set against the tumultuous changes of early 20th century Palestine. Travelers, revolutionaries, farmers, musicians, teachers and writers take us on a journey in search of love, justice and belonging.
Project Title: Contrepoids
Director: Selim Mourad
Producer: Jana Wehbe
As the apparent last male descendant of his family, the filmmaker is researching his family tree in the hopes of discovering a male descendant other than himself to ensure the continuity of the family name into the next generation. Being attracted to men, he does not intend to marry. His search, however, is unfruitful and he begins to wonder about conceiving a child through a woman and working around the inherited social norms of hetero-normative family life.
Project Title: Mother of the Unborn
Director: Nadine Michael Salib
Mother of the Unborn follows two upper Egyptian women whose dignity and marital status are threatened due to their infertility. The prospect of childlessness is not accepted in their region and is often perceived as a bad omen. Hanan and Sa’deya, although from different religions, end up walking the same path; they both head to Um Mansour, an old midwife who helps cure their infertility following traditional ‘Baladi’ rituals of impregnation that are hidden deep in the forgotten world of Upper Egypt.
Project Title: Bread and Angels
Director: Rachid Biyi
In June 1981, the popular “bread” uprising spread across Morocco. The military was dispatched to Casablanca and began shooting at the crowds. Hassan and Said were among other victims and their corpses were hidden for over 20 years. The film follows Najat and Aziza, the victims’ sisters, who are gradually breaking out of the state-imposed silence and fighting for compensation and recognition of the state’s crimes.
Project Title: Munich: A Palestinian Story
Director: Nasri Hajjaj
On September 6th, 1972, eight Palestinian freedom fighters attacked the Olympia Village in Munich, taking 11 Israeli sportsmen hostage. The operation ended when German security officers opened fire, killing 5 of the Palestinian men and the 11 Israelis. Why was this operation carried out? This film will be the first Palestinian documentary about this event, bringing to light many new facts, documents and people involved.
Projects in production and post-production
Project Title: Waves
Director: Ahmed Nour
Producer: Layla Triqui
Waves is a documentary in 8 chapters, each tells a part of the story of Suez city, where the flame of the 25th of January Egyptian revolution started. Suez had the first martyr in Egypt and was the scene of the most violent confrontations between police and protesters. The revolt in Suez triggered a huge national reaction. The story is told by the director who, in sharing his own childhood memories and experiences in his home city of Suez, represents the generation that was born in the eighties when ex-president Mubarak first came to power.
Project Title: Hinter Tausend Staeben Keine Welt
Director: Mariam Mekiwi
Producer: Dalia Soleiman
Hinter Tausend Staeben Keine Welt is an essay documentary that tells the personal stories in/of places where the young woman (the director) spent her childhood in the early nineties in Alexandria. The stories take place mainly in a German Catholic school and an elderly home. They weave together personal narrative, poetic fiction and documented oral history.
Project Title: It Was Better Tomorrow
Director: Hind Boujemaa
Producer: Dora Bouchoucha
Through the hubbub of a revolution, It Was Better Tomorrow centers on Aida, a woman who has to rebuild her entire life and does not wish to look back. She spends her time moving from one poor neighborhood to another, driven by the will to find a roof over her head, and takes no notice of the historical events taking place around her. Her only goal is to find a way out and she is convinced that the revolution is a blessing. The film shows the atypical journey of this bold woman in the intense interval of a country's revolution.
Project Title: A Maid for Each
Director: Maher Abi Samra
Producer: Jinane Dagher
Many Lebanese households employ an African or Asian live-in domestic worker. There are currently 200,000 migrant domestic workers to the 4 million resident Lebanese. The market for domestic work in Lebanon is segmented according to the national and ethnic origins of the worker, where the Lebanese employer is master and the worker is akin to property owned by the master. Through the three characters of Zein, Rima and Lati, the film aims to dissect the entire system and bring a deeper awareness to a reality that, for the Lebanese majority, is largely ignored and taken for granted.
Project Title: Amal’s Garden
Director: Nadia Shihab
Amal and Mustafa have lived a long life together in northern Iraq. When Amal decides to finally renovate her home after a decade of war, 85 year-old Mustafa retreats to the melodic wilderness of the garden. A lyrical and intimate documentary on companionship, memory and new beginnings, Amal’s Garden is the moving portrait of one couple moving forward in a new Iraq, where, as one world is disappearing, another is being born.
Project Title: Eye of the Architect
Director: Nadim Mishlawi
The documentary explores the work and ideas of Lebanese architect Bernard Khoury as he guides us through the paradoxes of Beirut. The film will examine Khoury’s distinctive approach to urbanism, and through analyzing the contextual aspects of his work, will also explore the ideas of identity and liberalism in an exceedingly unstable socio-political environment.
Project Title: The Craft
Director: Ramez Youssef
The film weaves the stories of three belly dancers who work in the popular street-weddings of Alexandria, Egypt. They share their struggle for survival and the difficult realities they face behind their festive dancing.
Project Title: Underground/On the Surface
Director: Salma El Tarzi
This is the journey of 3 popular underground musicians in Egypt, representing a controversial genre which was snubbed and rejected by the middle classes but is curiously making its way to the upper classes and intellectuals. It is a film about classism, social justice, revolution, hope, success and music. It is about rebellion versus conformism and mediocrity, examining post-revolutionary Egypt from a social and cultural perspective.