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Emerging talents revel in limelight as curtain falls on Amman Int’l Film Festival

By Hanna Davis - Sep 02,2021 - Last updated at Sep 02,2021

Jordanian singer Zain Awad and Egyptian media personality Bassem Youssef moderate the closing ceremony of the Amman International Film Festival on Tuesday (Photo courtesy of AIFF)


AMMAN — The glowing Amman skyline provided a fitting backdrop for the closing ceremony of the Amman International Film Festival (AIFF) on Tuesday night.

At the ceremony, held at the Royal Film Commission’s outdoor theatre, the AIFF jury members announced the winners of the second-edition of the international film festival.

Their Royal Highnesses Prince Ali and Princess Rym, the festival’s president, attended the event. 

“It [the film festival] comes as a reply to a demand for local and regional narratives and storytelling through the seventh art. It reflects a holistic approach and an enabling environment, all of which are contributing to developing films in Jordan,” Princess Rym highlighted during the ceremony.  

The princess thanked Their Majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania for their support of culture and art in Jordan.

This year’s film festival screened 51 films, from 26 countries, over a period of nine days. 

Jordanian singer Zain Awad and  Egyptian media personality Bassem Youssef moderated the ceremony. 

The closing ceremony introduced the Jordanian short film, “Diana”, directed by Maysoon Hbaidi. 

In an artistic and realistic manner, the film tells of story of an “honour killing” in the Jordan Valley. This was the first time the film was shown in Jordan, Hbaidi told The Jordan Times in a recent interview. 

“Honey Cigar”, directed by Kamir Aïnouz, was awarded the Black Iris Award for Best Arab Feature-Length Narrative and a cash prize of $20,000. 

“Honey Cigar” follows the story of a Selma, from a bourgeois and secular Berber family, who meets Julien “a provocative young man” and “faces her own fears to explore the power and dangers of her desire,” according to the AIFF website. 

“It is indeed a daring tale of a young woman’s body and mind awakening. Its birthplace is really here, in Jordan, even though I’m French and Algerian,” Ainouz said to the audience after receiving the award. “Thank you for supporting our projects and giving us a voice to carry into the world,” Ainouz said.

The Algerian director Lina Soualem, won the Black Iris Award for Best Feature Length Arab Documentary for her film "Their Algeria", along with a cash prize of $15,000. 

The film depicts the lives of an Algerian couple who decide to separate after 62 years of living together, according to the AIFF website. 

For the International Films section, the public awarded the Indian film "Fire in the Mountains", directed by Ajitpal Singh, the Black Iris and a prize of $5,000.

In the film, a mother tries to save money to build a road in a Himalayan village to help her son with disabilities access therapy, the AIFF website said. 

Out of 18 competing films for Best Arab Short Film, the Egyptian entry "The Other Cheek", directed by Sandro Canaan, won the Black Iris and an award of $5,000. 

The film tells of a “heated confrontation” between the concerned father, Nashaat, and his ex-wife after his daughter his attacked by a dog, according to the AIFF website. 

“I feel overwhelmed, so happy. For me, this is the first prize for the film. I did not see it coming at all,” Kawthar Younis told The Jordan Times. 

The AIFF did not only congratulate the work of emerging filmmakers, but also provided a space for artists and film enthusiasts to exchange ideas and learn from each others’ talents. 

Palestinian actress Anaheed Fayyad, who served on the Arab Short Film Jury, told The Jordan Times at the ceremony that she “learned a lot” during the festival from judging the 18 short films.  

The nine-day festival hosted the Industry Days programme, which supported developing Jordanian and Arab filmmakers through workshops and seminars. 

May Al Ghouti, who attended the festival’s closing ceremony, was one of the winners of the “film in development” prizes. 

She told The Jordan Times at the ceremony that she received JD7,000 for the development of her film “Landslide”, which features a young teenager who faces insecurities from a skin condition. 

Elias Khlat, who is the director of Tripoli Film Festival in Lebanon, spoke about the beauty of the film community and the importance of giving developing filmmakers support. 

“It is very important, not only in the Arab world, but worldwide. We should give more space for ‘first timers’,” Khlat told The Jordan Times at the ceremony. 

Princess Rym thanked the generosity and dedication of all the filmmakers and partners and highlighted the hard work of the AIFF organisers.

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