Palestinian film scoops three Cannes Arab Critics Awards

Adham Youssef
4 Min Read

Annemarie Jacir’s Wajib won on Saturday three awards, including best film, at the Arab Critics Awards ceremony, which is a parallel event to the ongoing Cannes Film Festival.

The Palestinian film Wajib also won the best screenplay award as well as best actor award, which went to Mohamed Bakari.

Wajib (2017) won 18 international awards, including best film, in Mar del Plata, Dubai, Amiens, and Kerala. The family drama follows a father and his estranged son who must come together to hand deliver his daughter’s wedding invitations to each guest as per local Palestinian custom.

Egyptian critic Youssef Cherif Rizkallah was handed an achievement award for his lifetime contributions. Rizkallah is the artistic director of the Cairo Film Festival and has been an essential element in the cinematic culture in Egypt since the 1970s.

Tunisian director Mariam Al Ferjani was awarded best actress for her role in Tunisian film Beauty and the Dogs, which was screened for the first time last year in the Un Certain Regard competition of the Cannes Film Festival. The film scooped several awards throughout the year and was screened at several festivals.

Ziad Doueiri was awarded best director for his film The Insult at the Arab Critics Awards ceremony. Doueiri’s controversial film was the Lebanese entry for the foreign language film category, but was not chosen as a nominee.

It is Doueiri’s fourth feature film and it premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2017. It also received the award for best Arabic film at El-Gouna Film Festival and the best actor award at the Venice Film Festival earlier in September, with Palestinian actor Kamel El-Basha picking up the prize.

The film gives a different narrative of the long and bloody civil war in Lebanon. It follows a relationship between a Palestinian foreman and a Christian mechanic. The drama deals with the prejudice and hatred that the war left in the mindsets of people. It is set in post-civil war Lebanon.

As for the best documentary prize, it was awarded to Ziad Kalthoum’s film Taste of Cement.

The film is a portrait of workers in exile, an empathetic encounter with people who have lost their past and their future, locked in the recurring present.

Kalthoum creates an essay documentary of Syrian construction workers building new skyscrapers in Beirut, on the ruins caused by the Lebanese civil war. At the same time, their own houses are being bombed in Syria. A curfew prohibits them from leaving the construction site after work. Every night in their pit below the skyscraper, the news from their homeland and the memories of the war chase them. Mute and imprisoned in the cement underground, they must endure until the new day arrives where the hammering and welding drowns out their nightmares.

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