AFAC is happy to announce the selection of 36 new grantees (24 individuals and 12 institutions) from its 2011 second open call for general grants, covering the categories of Cinema, Music, and RTR (research, training and regional events). Grant recipients include artists and cultural institutions from Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria, Sudan, Jordan, and Libya.
In total, AFAC received 321 applications; all underwent meticulous evaluation by experts and specialist jurors in the relevant fields, resulting in the selected winners announced in AFAC’s first annual Gala dinner on December 18th.
Please scroll down for the names of the grantees and their project briefs.
Grantee: Fawzi Saleh (Egypt)
Title: Poisoned Roses
Project brief: Just a few days before the outbreak of the Egyptian (January) revolution, in the dark underbelly of Cairo city, a young man kills himself. The film seeks out his reasons for suicide through four different characters. None are pleased with what life has to offer them; they seek love, hope, a future, while being surrounded by corruption, class stratification, and a police state. The events of the film revolve around a single day’s occurrences in a non-linear narrative form that breaks chronological sequence.
Grantee: Al Sharif Mohammad Treibak (Morocco)
Title: Little Joys
Project brief: Set in the fifties in northern Morocco, two girls live with their related families in a big spacious house under the non-questionable authority of the grandfather. ‘Shama’ and ‘Nafisa’ spend their lifetimes dreaming of escape from the big house and the social pressures of conservative family life which have left them imprisoned behind its walls.
Grantee: El Amine Mohamed Hattou (Algeria)
Title: Searching for Janitou
Project brief: Aa Gale Lag Jaa (Come, Embrace me) is the most popular Bollywood film in Algeria. Generation after generation, the film has acquired an epic status becoming the absolute reference for the Indian culture. Algerians call the film JANITOU, after the movie’s theme song. Searching for Janitou is a journey to unravel the phenomenon that is this Bollywood film and the unexpected connection it has created between Algeria and India. It explores the interweaving between two cultures far away from each other yet bound together by the shared stories of ‘Janitou’.
Grantee: Shaza Moharam (Egypt)
Project brief: ‘Ahlam’ is a seemingly average Egyptian girl. While her family thinks she works at the airport, Ahlam serves tables in a cabaret. She keeps her job a secret from her relatives and neighbors to avoid being stigmatized. Ahlam does not care much for politics, yet she cannot help but notice the people’s revolt. Walking into a cheering crowd, she senses for the first time that she is part of something. While people of her status are often ignored, Ahlam feels that the Egyptian revolution belongs to her too, not just to the well-groomed and the righteous.
Grantee: Larissa Sansour (Palestine)
Title: Nation Estate
Project brief: A ten-minute sci-fi short that mixes computer generated imagery and real actors to offer a clinically dystopic yet humorous approach to the deadlock in the Middle East. In a not too distant future, the conflict in Palestine has reached its conclusion. Palestinians have their nation now in the shape of a single hi-tech building – the Nation Estate – located in the West Bank. The film follows the female lead in a futuristic folklore outfit on her way to her flat on the Bethlehem floor, unveiling the building on her way to an Arabic electronica soundtrack.
Grantee: Hatem Akram Imam (Lebanon)
Title: Take me to this Place: I Want to Make the Artist
Project brief: A road movie in which three emerging artists recount incidents from their childhood that have led them into the art world. Set against a backdrop of real and imaginary scenery from Beirut and elsewhere, their stories reveal their mischievous relationship with their practice, with the art circle, and with the infamous civil war, a prominent subject of Lebanese contemporary art.
Grantee: Nadine Khan (Egypt)
Title: Chaos, Disorder
Project brief: This is the story of lost love in a controversial setting. Manal, Zaki and Mounir are in there twenties, living in a confined community where basic needs are met yet chaos and disorder brew. The two boys are in love with the same girl who finds herself being the bet for a football match between them; the winner marries Manal. This story reflects a football and play-station youth and how they deal with their emotions in a community that is increasingly closed off and isolated.
Grantee: Saed Andoni/ Amer Shomali (Palestine)
Title: The Wanted 18
Project brief: This is the story of the most powerful army in the Middle East chasing 18 cows. In 1987, a group of Palestinian activists started a co-operative dairy farm in Beit Sahour with 18 cows. The people in the Bethlehem area came to depend completely on the co-op's milk, which they called the 'intifada milk'. However, once the co-op became successful, the Israeli army ordered its closure, claiming the cows to be a threat to Israeli national security. Defying the army, the activists went undercover, hiding the 18 cows in people’s houses and continuing to produce milk.
Grantee: Mai masri (Palestine)
Title: 3000 Layla
Project brief: A newlywed Palestinian schoolteacher is arrested after an Israeli military patrol gravely injures one of her students, provoking a clash between the students and the soldiers. ‘Layal’ is detained in a high-security Israeli prison where, to her shock, she discovers that she is pregnant. Though she delivers her baby boy while chained to a bed, the child transforms her life and gives her hope. When the women of the prison protest by going on hunger strike, the prison director threatens to take Layal’s child away. With the help of the women, Layal learns to stand up for herself and fight for her child.
Grantee: Sara Francis (Lebanon)
Project brief: A van in the form of a glass box drives into Beirut and captures images of the city as the narrator explores its streets, people, buildings, walls …etc . From inside the glass van, the different moods, rhythms, and colors of the city become more apparent, and several characters - real inhabitants of the city - share intimate moments and confessions about themselves.
Grantee: Kamal Al Jaafari (Palestine)
Project brief: On a nightly walk, two friends are approached by a strange woman asking for the way to Tel Aviv. The encounter prompts a rupture in their world. One of them comes to believe that he is being watched by the secret police, and is pulled into a realm of unexpected events, mysteries and crimes. Observing his friend’s transformation, the other pulls away to become the narrator of an “individual’s fate” in the Arab ghetto of "Israel".
Grantee: Mahmoud Hojeij (Lebanon)
Title: Stable Unstable
Project brief: Set in the heart of Lebanese city culture in an apartment building in Beirut, the film takes place on the last day of the year. With a backdrop of social strains and mounting tensions due to Lebanon’s daily struggles and unmet aspirations, seven characters start their day by visiting their psychologist as part of their weekly ritual. On that couch in their psychologist’s office, they face themselves and their loved ones in trying to define what is most important to them.
Grantee: Raed Andoni (Palestine)
Title: From the Arab World…With Love
Project brief: A collective feature-length documentary made of five personal narratives which take on the issues of identity and its passage from one generation to the next. Five Arab films set in five different cities reflect the personal experiences of their respective directors and the places they come from. The purpose of this project is to break through geographic and political boundaries in achieving a single shared artistic project. This film is not about the Arab world but from the Arab world.
Grantee: Joe Namy (Lebanon)
Project brief: This project is an ongoing investigation to be developed within two music projects created in the past: Circulate and Detroit Beirut. It takes an introspective look into the history of recorded Arabic music with respect to displaced cultural identities. The project will be a selection of original compositions that infuse traditional Arabic music with new collaborative forms of conceptual and experimental sound elements, with accompanying experimental music videos. The title “Clips” connotes a holding device or extraction - film footage, ammunition, among other terms, applied musically to excerpts of everyday life.
Grantee: Nasser Al-Shorbaji al-Mazik (Syria)
Title: Fareeq El Atrash and Deeb on tour in Egypt
Project brief: Following the recording of tracks by Fareeq El Atrash, the Lebanese Hip Hop band, and Deeb, the Egyptian rapper, the Cairo Jazz Club Agency will organize a tour of the artists in the spring of 2012 at four main musical platforms in Egypt: Cairo, Alexandria, Dahab and Sohag. During this tour, the artists will promote both their shared musical compositions and their individual works.
Grantee: Sahar Hadi Taha (Iraq)
Title: I Have Adored You
Project brief: The production of a musical album containing ten songs revolving around the theme of divine feminine love as expressed by mystic poetesses and women writers from the second century of the Islamic era to the present day. It was the sayings and verses of these women that constituted the first seed of what evolved into different schools of “mysticism.” The album will include eight to ten mystic poems by Hayyuna, Rabi'a al-Adawiyya, Rehana and Maymuna of the second and third Islamic centuries as well as later mystics like Atika Khazraji, Lami’a Abbas Amara, Basema Butuli, Huda Numani. The music will be contemporary, yet perennial as it will be a both meditative and rhythmic form of music. The rhythms will vary within the framework of contemplative meditative forms using a variety of oriental and western modes to reflect the fusion of world styles and the dialogue between them.
Grantee: Shadi Ghassan Zaqtan (Palestine)
Title: Theib (Fox) and album of songs
Project brief: This album includes a number of songs written in the Nabatian dialect and free verse, dealing with social and political topics that address the circumstances of exile, isolation, civil war and other topics affecting the Palestinian population whether within their homeland or expatriated.
Grantee: Mariam Saleh Suleiman (Egypt)
Title: I am not singing
Project brief: The production of a music album, entitled “I am Not Singing”, featuring songs that represent Egyptian realities before and after the revolution. The album poses a series of questions about Egypt and the concept of freedom upon which the singer has reflected. The music is contemporary using modern instruments but without effecting a complete break with popular Egyptian heritage.
Grantee: Maan Mahmoud Abu Taleb (Jordan)
Project brief: An interactive website dedicated to presenting new releases and offering criticism of alternative Arabic music. The project seeks societal appreciation and recognition of this form of expression by creating the space for young musicians to express their lifestyle, ambitions and aspirations as well as to encourage their creativity and overcome obstacles of censorship.
Grantee: Hisham Ghassan Naddaf (Syria)
Title: Symphonic Suite Ishtar
Project brief: A recording of a symphonic suite built on ancient mythology that stems from the cultural, political, intellectual, philosophical, and religious aspects of the societies that have lived in natural Syria. The story of the goddess Ishtar is considered to be one of the most important myths originating in the East. This symphonic suite offers a rich and flexible expression of a dramatic epic tale while using modern and contemporary musical compositional forms for the Arab region.
Grantee: Khildan Fil Ard (Morocco)
Title: The Issafen
Project Brief: The Issafen Project explores the reinvention of Berber musical traditions in dialogue with digital media. Imanaren, a contemporary group from Moroccan Souss, will collaborate with New York-based Nettle in the Berber group’s home village, exploring the frictions and concords between musical languages: acoustic, electronic, contemporary and traditional. Video documentation of the process and the media ethnoscapes which inform musical creation in Berber Morocco today will also be part of this collaborative effort’s productions.
Grantee: IRTIJAL - International Festival of Experimental Music in Lebanon (Lebanon)
Title: Triangular Exchange -IRTIJAL FEST (Cairo/Beirut/Tunis)
Project Brief: The project is an attempt to bolster ties and relations between three major countries in the Arab world by creating a collaboration between three typically separate and locally-focused festivals: Irtijal from Beirut, 100Live from Cairo and FEST from Tunis. In their 2012 edition, each of these events will feature special program highlighting this triangular exchange and giving the opportunity for artists from Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia to perform together and record music together, discovering new possibilities of musical exchange within the contemporary Arab musical context. The aim will be for additional countries to participate in future editions.
Grantee: Ateek Ensemble (Jordan)
Title: Audio CD
Project Brief: The Ateek Ensemble has been performing new works by Arab composers and has accumulated a significant number of original works and mawlawis. The Ensemble hopes to record their music in Istanbul at the Babajim Istanbul Studios and Mastering after a series of rehearsals held in Istanbul. The musicians included in this recording are Hala Hachem, Zina Asfour, Halim al-Khatib, Cag Ercag and Mohammad Taha. The group is preparing eight pieces by several contemporary Arab composers including Iyad Mohammad, Joelle Khoury, Haitham Sukkarieh and Suad Bushnaq.
Grantee: Irab for Arabic Music (Lebanon)
Title: Documenting the life of Fleifel Bros
Project brief: This project aims to document the lives of the brothers Fleifel and their important contributions to the repertoire of modern Arabic musical heritage. Their compositions included patriotic, military, educational, social, and religious songs and operettas for various Arab countries. However, few people are aware of the breadth of their musical work. The project therefore aims to produce a book publication on the lives and musical works of the Fleifel Brothers as well as a four-volume disc set (CDs) including a selection of their compositions.
Grantee: Iqaa (Jordan)
Title: Digital library of music production
Project brief: To create a website that can fill the current vacuum in the Arab world between music production and its non-standard uses, whether commercial or non-commercial, such as in films, advertisements, television, radio channels and others. The project will create a new resource for Arabic music and increase the productive efficiency of music institutions. The importance of the project stems from the current lack of such a resource—considered one of the most important elements of the infrastructure for international music institutions—in the Arab world.
Research, Training and Regional Events (RTR)
Grantee: Lana Nasser (Jordan)
Title: Aat Festival Celebrating International Women's Day
Project brief: AAT Network is a collective of independent artists, educators and activists that will produce their third annual festival celebrating International Women's Day. Aimed at providing a platform for expression and raising awareness on women and gender issues amongst various socio-economic groups, the festival's activities include outreach/training and capacities development that involve local and regional artists and educators. During the festival, AAT Network will showcase presentations and performances based on activities conducted prior to the festival including new works by women artists and an original theatrical performance.
Grantee: Leila Tayeb (Libya)
Title: Art and Gender in the 2011 Libyan Revolution
Project Brief: The project aims to document art associated with the 2011 Libyan revolution with the specific angle of analyzing the gender politics of this art and its production. It also aims to offer a substantive contribution to contemporary art history in a new democratic Libya and to contribute to a process of rebuilding Libya, which includes art among its priorities. The project will specifically research the questions of gender in the art of the 2011 Libyan revolution, using material gathered from the creation of two distinct products: The first is a scholarly article to be published in a special issue of the Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication in early 2012. The second product will be a documentary film project undertaken in collaboration with Egyptian filmmaker, Mohammad Shawky Hassan, which also addresses questions of gender as it showcases some of the art of the revolution.
Grantee: Maya Chami (Lebanon)
Title: The “Victory Sign”
Project Brief: This project seeks to examine what the consequences of digital material fluidity will be on exploring the theme of the “victory sign” in the Arab world from our visual records. After examining archive material, endless possibilities of animating, overlaying and deconstructing of audio-visual clips will be generated into a new moving image, liberated from the “flow” of the media, transforming the material from “what we have seen” to “what we have to say about victory”. The outcome will be live performances based on a creation of remixed visuals and audio clips that will be played out in the “liveness” of today's events. A blog dedicated to the project will be created from the start of the project, where all the material gathered will be available, online, under creative commons. One edited version of the entire project, capturing parts of the different live shows, will be uploaded online at the end of the project.
Grantee: Orient Productions for Film & Theatre (Egypt)
Title: D-CAF (Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival)
Project Brief: D-CAF will be Egypt’s first-ever international, multi-disciplinary arts festival that will include local, regional & international music, theatre, dance, visual arts & film by cutting-edge artists from Egypt, the Arab world and beyond. In addition to featuring established downtown cultural spaces and theatres in Cairo, D-CAF will break new ground by using non-traditional spaces such as historical buildings, storefronts, alleyways and rooftops as sites for performances, events and installations, engaging audiences and performers with the city in a new way.
Grantee: Teatro Alexandria (Egypt)
Title: Backstreet Festival – “Towards Arts are Non-Traditional Spaces”
Project Brief: The Backstreet Festival is a platform for performing arts, dialogue and exchange activities in non-traditional spaces, engaging people to practice freedom of expression in an interactive and artistic ambiance. It involves street performances, regional training and dialogue opportunities for people across Europe and the Mediterranean with a focus on Egypt and the Arab Middle East.
Grantee: Artellewa Art Space (Egypt)
Title: Artellewa Arab Collaboration Project
Project Brief: Over a ten-week period, the Artellewa Arab Collaboration Project invites five Arab artists from countries experiencing revolutionary change to come together in Cairo to share their artistic practices in the context of the peoples’ movements in the Arab World. The project aims to develop and execute an interdisciplinary, collaborative project that promotes cooperation and strengthens ties between cultural workers in the region, in the Arab world’s current and changing contexts
Grantee: Beirut DC (Lebanon)
Project Brief: DOCmed is a 3-year training program, designed for Arab professionals in the documentary film domain who have a project that qualifies to be produced as an international co-production. Each year, 10 professionals from eight Arab countries are selected to join three sessions which are dedicated to analyzing projects with the objective of developing, producing, distributing and exhibiting their films in southern and northern hemisphere countries.
Grantee: PEN MEDIA (Palestine)
Title: Ramallah Docs 2012
Project Brief: The project consists of four sessions that will take place in Ramallah, Damascus, Cairo and Leipzig which will provide training and development workshops for Arab documentary filmmakers. The project sessions will assist participants to develop and produce new artistic works, including 12 short films inspired by the “Arab Spring” and by the role of social media in promoting, organizing and propagating revolutionary movements in the Arab world. The sessions will also assist participants in developing a complete production package with a professional trailer for their films, which can be presented to pitching forums, funders and producers for the purposes of the production and broadcast of 12 long-duration documentary films, based on their short films and pitches.
Grantee: Arab Puppet Theatre Foundation (APTF) (Lebanon/Sudan)
Title: Khartoum in Art Residency for Puppet Theatre
Project Brief: The Khartoum Art Residency in puppet theatre is the third art residency held by APTF for Arab puppetry practitioners and practitioners from related fields. It is a space of encounter, skills development and knowledge sharing for around 15 participants from different Arab cities, villages and refugee camps. Participants interested in puppet theatre, as a profession or as a method in their work processes, will be invited to apply for the residency, which for a period of 3 weeks, takes the form of a school where intensive training in puppetry and its different manifestations is offered by Arab and international artists. Participants gain skills and insights on how to develop puppetry work in relation to their context. Together they experience creating a puppet theatre production that becomes a public event in the host city (Khartoum) on the last day.
Grantee: Samandal Comics Association (Lebanon)
Title: Samandal Magazine Issue 15
Project Brief: In a joint venture, the Samandal Comics Association and the Arab Image Foundation (AIF) will produce a publication that will include works by local and regional artists invited to create comics based on photographs from the AIF archive and collection. Artists may redraw photographs and incorporate them into comic strips, or create photo-romances and collages or even find inspiration to invent stories based on single images and ultimately present them in a new and innovative way. The original drawings that are included in the publication will be exhibited with the book launch.
Grantee: “Shuf” (Look) Society for the Revival of the Moroccan Art of Comic Strips (Morocco)
Title: Workshops and artist residency at the Seventh International Festival of Comic Strips in Tetouan under the title: “Draw me the Arab spring”
Project brief: The organization of workshops and an artist residency within the framework of the Seventh International Festival of Drawn Tapes in Tetouan in 2012. The workshops are intended for students in a number of educational institutions in the city of Tetouan with artist residencies for Arab youth with talents in the art of comic strips. The project will help Arab youth in freely expressing their perspectives of the Arab spring through the art of comic strips, help publicize the creativity of young Arab artists in the field of comic strips, and offer an opportunity in which young Arab artists can share and exchange experiences and expertise with regards to comic strips.