Lights! Camera! AFAC! Meet the 25 full length features and shorts in the 2022 grants cycle
04 Dec 2022
A Palestinian projectionist recently released from a 30-year stint in an Israeli prison returns to the arthouse cinema he was arrested from during the first intifada. A miracle maker in a small Tunisian village faces prosecution. An Algerian writer in exile contracts a terminal illness but can’t shake the political ghosts that haunt him. Time traveling to ecotopia. Vampires in Beirut. Marijuana revenge pulp thriller.
This is just a smattering of AFAC’s 2022 feature and short film grantees. In total, our two juries – one for each section – awarded 25 projects with grants from a pool of 332 applicants, closing out our 2022 grant year.
These films run the gamut of formal and thematic offerings.
Some directors dove into alternative histories of sites of trauma, trying to think about what it means to hold onto fragile personal relations in times of great upheaval. Can two soldiers hold onto the love they have found in war? Can a young girl’s birthday have historical weight when it is disrupted by violent clashes?
Others engage with quieter non-events that push the big events of history to the background, often exploring the banal but weighty force that gender can have on a life. A woman with an ex-militant husband tries to make ends meet in a collapsing Beirut. A car accident offers a woman to start her life anew free from the social obligations around her when she fakes her own death. Collective awareness of one Sudanese village’s origin in cotton colonialism jars loose women from their consignment to an apolitical domestic sphere.
And there are the fantastical and mystical projects: flying protagonists, absurdist football matches, a reincarnated sibling in an injured falcon.
We hope you are as excited as we are to watch these films – many of them being steered by first time directors – come to fruition.
Below, you can read the jury statements and the project descriptions.
Short Films Jury Statement:
“From the lack of funding and resources to the constant crises and traumas, making films in the region has never been an easy task. We as a jury were impressed with the courage and determination of all applicants, filmmakers who insist on making films despite all odds.
With over 100 projects, it was definitely not an easy mission for us to narrow down the selection. It is clear that the constant violence the Arab world goes through, in all its forms, has affected our collective psyche, and this fact takes multiple forms in the different selected projects, from migration and belonging to identity and representation to memory and history. Even though these projects were specific to their geographical contexts, what struck us was the fact that they portray similar experiences shared by people across the region.
Our final selections were ultimately driven by the fact that these projects are from and for the region, projects that are daring, be it in their artistic approach, or in their content. We have to discover exciting new projects and filmmakers who are not afraid of pushing boundaries in their political and social contexts, while being mindful of the Western gaze that has contaminated some of the films originating from the Arab world. At the same time, they propose a singular and unique cinematic voice, which has captivated us and made us excited about what’s to come.
We hope that these films will inspire and open up conversations and debates that reflect on our realities.”
Jury members: Egyptian writer and critic Leila Arman, Lebanese film director Ely Dagher and Tunisian filmmaker Youssef Chebbi.
Feature films Jury Statement:
“The jury commends the outstanding applications submitted from all corners of the Arab region and diaspora. However, we noticed that submissions from the Gulf region remain relatively low.
The committee also noted the influx of first-time directing projects, which speaks to the growing number of young film talents who have particular concerns and fresh, modern ideas. In addition, there is a significant presence of women screenwriters and directors, with women’s issues also being covered in the projects themselves.
In light of the uniqueness and importance of the projects, their significant number as well as their intellectual, scenic and historical richness, their visual and poetic specificity, and their varied engagement with genre, the committee decided to provide the opportunity to provide support to the largest possible number of proposals.”
Jury members: Egyptian director Nadine Khan, Lebanese film studies professor and writer Ghada Sayegh, and Emirati film curator Masoud Amrallah Al Ali.