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Stories of Love, Betrayal, Political Turmoil and Revolution Line Up for Doha Tribeca Film Festival’s Arab Film Competition

Sep 20, 2011 — Film Festival

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14 Features Films and Documentaries to Compete for Top Honours at Annual Doha Tribeca Film Festival; Mohammad Malas Selected as Narrative Jury President

Doha, September 20, 2011 – Showcasing the strength and quality of Arab films produced throughout the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) region in the past year, the Doha Film Institute (DFI) today announced the feature films and documentaries that will compete in the 2011 Doha Tribeca Film Festival’s (DTFF) Arab Film Competition. Leading the five-member Narrative Film Competition Jury will be award-winning Syrian director Mohammed Malas, a filmmaking auteur widely recognised across the Arab World for his critical and socially engaging cinema.

Featuring eight world premieres, the Competition, in its second year, has been expanded and split into two juried segments of narrative and documentary films, with a set of new awards up for grabs including: Best Arab Narrative Feature; Best Arab Narrative Director; Best Narrative Performance Award; Best Arab Documentary Feature; and Best Arab Documentary Director. The Festival will also feature two audience awards; for Best Narrative Film and Best Documentary with cash prizes of USD 100,000 each.

Jury President Malas, received widespread international acclaim for his narrative and documentary films and has won a number of awards at film festivals around the world. Among his most important films are Dreams of the City (1983) and The Night (1992) based on auto-biographical motifs, as well as The Dream (1981), a documentary that was shot in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Chatila in Beirut shortly before the massacres of 1982.

Highlighting the importance of the Arab Film Competition for regional filmmakers, Malas said: “To be selected as Jury President is a great honour and also a great responsibility – one which I take very seriously- especially with the current changes in the Arab world. The Arab Film Competition is an important tool for supporting and promoting Arab films in this part of the world and providing an important recognition to emerging and established filmmakers. The Competition places select regional films up on an international platform, opening up various doors for films to gain exposure and distribution opportunities outside of the Arab World, which remains a fundamental issue within the regional industry.”

Executive Director of DFI, Amanda Palmer, commented: “Having someone of Mohammad Malas’ calibre lead our Narrative Jury, whose films have profoundly shaped the identity of realistic Arab Cinema, will bring the level of insight, experience and understanding needed to discover and illuminates storytellers from this region”

She added, “In our third year, we chose to expand the Competition, mainly because of the strength of this year’s submissions, which our Arab programmers believed we could do justice to. It’s also exciting to see not only an increase of submissions generally, but more representation of films from female directors, as well as an increase in films from all over North Africa. And while it is the year of the Arab Spring, it’s been inspiring to see the maturity of films from all genres reflecting original voices and stories from the Arab World.

The 2011 Arab Film Competition will feature a diverse and wide ranging lineup, including seven narrative films and seven documentaries, which center around childhood and love, the turbulence of revolution, the inner world of Arab life and films which reveal the true nature of the lives of contemporary Arab women. All films at the Festival will be subtitled in both Arabic and English, aiming to provide full cinematic access for audiences.

Hania Mroue, DFI’s Chief Arab Programmer, said: “The films in our Arab Film Competition capture the lives, loves and modern day realities faced by everyday people in the region. They reflect the dreams, imagination, ideas and aspirations of the Arab world, both defined geographically and as people scattered around the globe. We are looking forward to showing audiences around the world the diversity of stories from our region – helmed by first-time filmmakers and seasoned auteurs – that truly highlight the richness of Arab talent and storytelling.”

Led by Amanda Palmer, the DFI Programming Team comprises Chief Arab Programmer Hania Mroue, Head of International Programming, Ludmila Cvikova, and Resident Filmmaker and Programmer Chadi Zeneddine. The Programming Team also receives advisory support from various cultural partners and consultants.

A full list of titles competing in the Arab Film Competition is listed below.


A Man of Honor (Insanon Charif) (Jean-Claude Codsi) (LEBANON, FRANCE, QATAR) 2011
Set in Lebanon and Jordan, A Man of Honor is the story of passion, betrayal and the many facets of human nature. Brahim has a chance encounter with a mysterious woman he knew 20 years ago. Because of her, he committed a murder and now has to return home to face his tumultuous past.

Red Heart (Dli Sur) (Halkawt Mustafa) (NORWAY, IRAQ/KURDISTAN) 2011
After the death of her mother, 19 year old Shirin discovers her father plans to trade her for a new wife. Unable to accept this, she escapes to the big city with her secret boyfriend. When he is arrested, she must face the dangers and challenges of her new life alone.

How big is your love (Combien Tu M’aimes) (Fatma Zohra Zamoum) (ALGERIA, MOROCCO) 2011
One day when Adel’s parents quarrel, they send him to his grandparents for the weekend. Two days turn into a week and soon Adel feels like he’s lived there forever. In an attempt to grow closer, his grandparents involve him in their everyday lives in this poignant and touching story about childhood and love set in modern day Algiers.

Lust- (El Shooq) (Khaled El Hagar) (EGYPT, FRANCE) 2011
El Shooq takes us into the lives of the inhabitants of a marginalized street in Alexandria, Egypt, before the revolution. Each character is isolated in their fierce, yet fragile dreams including Umm Shooq, who has deserted her wealthy family to marry the man she loves. She has settled into a life of poverty when an unexpected challenge forces her to make the most difficult decision of her life.

Smuggler’s Songs (Les Chants de Mandrin) (Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche) (ALGERIA, FRANCE) 2011
After the execution of Louis Mandrin, a famous mid-18th century folk hero, his companions risk a smuggling campaign in the French Provinces. Under the protection of heavily armed comrades, they set up illegal markets outside rural villages, where they sell tobacco, fabrics and precious goods. They write songs in Mandrin’s honour, print them and distribute them to the King’s lowliest subjects.

Normal (Mabrouk Ayt Aamara) (Merzak Allouache) (ALGERIA, FRANCE) 2011
As the Arab Spring begins in Tunisia and Egypt, Fouzi gathers a group of actors to show them footage of a documentary he started shooting two years ago about the disillusionment of youth seeking to express their artistic ideas. He starts seeking an alternative point of view, and especially another ending, relying on the actors reactions facing the historical change taking place.

Omar Killed Me (Omar m’a tuer) (Roschdy Zem) (FRANCE, MOROCCO) 2011
The film tracks the investigation of a gardener wrongly convicted for the murder of his employer, a rich heiress. A journalist convinced of his innocence defends his case uncovering one of the most shocking miscarriages of justice of the last 20 years and exploring a universal problem of two standards of justice – one for the powerful and one for the poor.


Rouge Parole (Elyes Baccar) (TUNISIA, QATAR, SWITZERLAND) 2011
The Arab Revolution erupted in a country that few had expected starting a political earthquake that shook the whole world. Rouge Patrol is the story of the Tunisian popular revolution and the expulsion of President Ben Ali emotionally told by its heroes through both their silence and their clamour, charting Tunisia’s first steps towards democracy.

Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni (Ikhtifa’aat Soad Hosni Alt-thalathat) (Rania Stephan) (LEBANON, EGYPT, UAE) 2011
Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni is an elegy to a rich era of film production in Egypt through the work of one of its most revered actresses who embodied the complexity of the modern Arab woman. Pieced exclusively from archival footage of her films, it tells the story of Hosni’s life up until her tragic suicide in 2001.

Yearning (Lina Alabed) (SYRIA, LEBANON, QATAR) 2011
Yearning is a documentary about the role and margin of freedom women have in a male-dominated society, and how that reflects on their femininity and relationship with themselves. Bringing together Damascene women from differing social and religious backgrounds, each woman shares secrets and recalls incidents connected to their awakening consciousness and the limitation of their existence and desires.

Crayons of Askalan (Laila Hotait Salas) (LEBANON, SPAIN) 2011
A creative documentary based on the powerful story of Palestinian artist Zuhdi Al Adawi. In 1975, at the age of fifteen Zuhdi is imprisoned in the high security Israeli jail, Askalan. With the help of his fellow prisoners and their families, he keeps his spirit alive through artistic expression, smuggling in color crayons and smuggling out his artwork, with a pillowcase as his canvas.

The Virgin, the Copts and Me (La Vierge, les Coptes et Moi) (Namir Abdel Messeeh) (FRANCE) 2011
Namir is a French filmmaker Of Egyptian origin. One day he watches a videotape of the Virgin Mary’s apparition in Egypt with his mother. His mother, like millions of other Copts, (Egypt’s Christians) sees the Virgin on the screen while he sees nothing. Skeptical about the videotape, Namir travels back to Egypt, to make a film about the occurrence of these apparitions.

Boxing With Her (Banet El Boxe) (Latifa Robbana Doghri, Salem Trabelsi) (TUNISIA) 2011
This revealing documentary explores the world of female boxing in Tunisia, a society where the body of a woman is considered a sacred place for procreation. Through interviews with women boxers, the film asks why a female body in the pugilistic arena is so confronting, even taboo, in Arab society.

On The Road To Downtown (Sherif El Bendary) (EGYPT) 2011
Downtown Cairo is an area full of diversity and contradictions. The documentary picks up at the end of Mubarak’s regime and through the main subjects’ own narration, explores six characters, connected to downtown in different ways, who take us on a journey of their lives, stories, and connection to downtown.

About Doha Film Institute (DFI):

The Doha Film Institute (DFI) is an independent cultural organisation established in 2010 to incorporate Qatar’s film initiatives under one banner.

Located at Qatar’s new cultural hub, Katara, DFI’s many initiatives include film and television funding for MENA and international films, year-round education programs, film screenings, and the annual Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF).

In addition, DFI has established a number of strategic cultural partnerships with leading local and international organisations including Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Enterprises, Mira Nair’s Maisha Film Labs, Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation, the Doha-Giffoni Experience, and Katara.

DFI was founded by H.E Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. Along with Her Excellency, DFI leadership comprises Festival Board Chair, H.E. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Fahad Al-Thani; Vice Chair, H.E. Dr. Hassan Al-Nimah; DFI Board member, Mr. Mansoor Ibrahim Al-Mahmoud; Festival Board Member, H.E. Sheikh Jabor Bin Yousuf Al Thani; and Executive Director Amanda Palmer.