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Five of its present and two former grantees of the Arab Fund for Art and Culture (AFAC) will be presenting their films at this year’s Berlinale, taking place from February 5th – 15th 2015.
Two Lebanese and two Egyptian films will be screened in the Forum section: Ghassan Salhab’s “The Valley” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival 2014 and won the Best Director from the Arab World Award at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2014. “The Valley” is set in the Beqa’a where a man loses his memory after a car accident.
Internationally acclaimed artist and AFAC grantee Akram Zaatari received a grant in 2009 for "Twenty Eight Nights and a Poem", a work on film about an old photo studio named Studio Shehrazade, founded in Sidon, South Lebanon, in 1953. Zaatari’s “Twenty Eight Nights and a Poem” will have its World Premiere at this year’s Berlinale.
Screening in the Forum Expanded section are: “Out on the Street” by Philip Rizk and Jasmina Metwaly (Egypt) as well as Mohamed Shawky Hassan’s “And on Another Note” (Egypt). Hassan’s film is a reflection on the ambivalent relationship of an Egyptian living in New York City with the ongoing political developments in Egypt and the media rhetoric associated with them.
“Out on the Street” by Philip Rizk and Jasmina Metwaly (Egypt) focuses on a group of 10 workers from one of Egypt's working class neighborhoods, Helwan, participating in an acting workshop. Through the rehearsals, stories emerge about factory injustice, police brutality, courts that fabricate criminal charges and tales of corruption and exploitation by their capitalist employers.
“Out on the Street” and “And on another note” were supported through AFAC's Crossroads special program, launched in 2012 to support emerging filmmakers conceiving projects affected by the changes that the Arab world has been undergoing since that time.
Furthermore screening as part of the Panorama main program will be:
Hicham Lasri’s third feature fiction “The Sea is Behind” – following onto “The End” and “They are the Dogs” – is a kaleidoscopic journey through the streets of Algiers aboard Hocine Filali's dilapidated taxi. Dreaming of setting sail to a better life in Italy, Hocine will first have to break free from the hold of this magical city and its colorful cast of characters around him…
Two former AFAC grantees will have films screen at Forum Expanded:
“Memories for a Private Eye” by Rania Stephan (Lebanon) previously supported for “The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni” and “20 Handshakes for Peace” by Mahdi Fleifel (Palestine/Germany), currently a grantee for “Men in the Sun”.
The Berlinale, in its 65th year, is one of the most important events for the international film industry, screening around 400 films in various categories and selling in excess of 300,000 tickets. The festival attracts industry professionals and a large media contingent from around the globe.
"It has a big market, offers good exposure and experimental films find their way to the Berlinale much easier than they do to other A-list festivals," Rima Mismar, AFAC’s Film Programs Manager pointed out. Given that up to now, only two Arab films were screened in Berlinale’s competition, Mismar is pleased with the marked increase of Arab content. In light of the increase in German-Arabic co-productions, the Berlinale may offer Arab films the possibility of being picked up by a German distributor and securing a German release.
AFAC grantees at the 65th Berlinale 2015
Current and former grantees of AFAC will present their films at the
5 - 15 February 2015