Women filmmakers take majority of Black Iris awards

Amman International Film Festival
(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Women took home most of the Black Iris Awards during the closing ceremony of the Amman International Film Festival on Tuesday, after 51 films from 26 different countries were screened.اضافة اعلان

“Amman Cinematography” concluded at the Royal Film Commission in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Ali, chairman of the board of commissioners of the Royal Film Commission, Princess Rym Ali, president of the festival, and several guests and celebrities, including comedian Bassem Yusuf.

The winners of the three official Black Iris competitions portrayed issues associated with the younger generation and human and personal issues.

‘Honey Cigar’ wins best feature

Set in Paris, 1993. Selma, 17, grew up in a bourgeois and secular Berber family. She becomes aware of the system of family patriarchy surrounding her and preventing her from flourishing after meeting Julien, a boy as endearing as he is provocative. As radical Islamism rages in Algeria and Julien’s family collapses, Selma discovers the power of her own desire.

For his first time behind the camera, Kamir Aïnouz embraces many different subjects at the same time, and paints with accuracy and sincerity a portrait of a young woman in a story of learning and emancipation.

The first part of the film confronts Selma with the awakening of desire and sexuality in a doubly problematic context. Overprotected by loving parents but awkwardly worried, she has no choice but to circumvent the limits imposed.

The outside world finds its center at the business school where Selma is enrolled. In addition to a humiliating hazing session, she must conform to the supposedly released — and stupidly vulgar — speech from a group of boys if she wants to gain membership in the group.

The issue of virginity becomes obsessive and is linked to the honor of the family. With a scene of great violence filmed soberly, Selma frees herself from social oppression and decides to take control of her own body.

The film then takes a negotiated and brutal turn. As the civil war rages in Algeria, Selma’s mother decides to resume her profession. She is a doctor and opens a practice in Algeria to treat women whom her male colleagues refuse to treat.

This is an opportunity for Selma to return to the land of her ancestors. In contact with her grandmother, Selma reconstructs her family history, learns that her mother sacrificed her career to raise her.

A whole bundle of narrative threads is tied around the contours of a patriarchy that encloses men in toxic behaviors. Selma becomes aware of the systemic oppression of women and how much it takes to get out of it. Moreover, the film finds in Kabylia a light that illuminates Selma’s face with a new clarity.

Kamir Aïnouz belongs to this generation of new directors whose works make up an important corpus of voices and views that re-appropriates, on both sides of the Mediterranean, a history of female emancipation. She joins among others, Danielle Arbid (“Fear of Nothing, Simple Passion”), Mounia Meddour (“Papicha”), Maryam Touzani (“Adam”), and perhaps soon Anna Cazenave Cambet (“Gold for dogs”).

“Honey Cigar” is a sincere testimony that gives life to an endearing character — a girl straddling two cultures and seeking her own way.

‘Their Algeria’ wins best long documentary

 “Their Algeria” is directed by lina Soualem and it follows a girl named Lina’s grandparents, Aïcha and Mabrouk, who after 62 years of living together have decided to separate. Together, they travel to Thiers, a small medieval town in the middle of France. Side by side, they experience a chaotic life marked by immigration. For Lina, their separation is an opportunity to question their long journey of exile and their silence.

Fortunately, her own father — the well-known French actor Zinedine Soualem — knows more about the life of Mabrouk, who came to the town of Thiers in the Auvergne in the late 1950s as a teenager to work in the knife factory. Aïcha followed her husband, with whom she had an arranged marriage at the age of 15.

This intimate family story sheds a personal light on the impact of French colonization, as well as the consequences of immigration and displacement, the pride in being an Algerian, and a longing for the family and village back home, which they hardly know of.

‘The Other Cheek’ wins Best Short Arabic Film

Egyptian short film ''Al Khad Al Akhar'' (The Other Cheek) puts viewers into the story after Nashaat’s daughter is viciously attacked by the neighbors’ dog, he is pained to hear rumors that she provoked the attack.

Reading the accusatory article aloud to his manipulative ex-wife only leads to a heated confrontation as the father’s irritation grows.

Seeing his daughter disfigured after the brutal incident, Nashaat has a hard time turning the other cheek.

The father, hurt and angry, sees no other way but to take his frustrations out on the perpetrator, even if it means acting against his nature and beliefs.

‘Skies of Lebanon’ special mention for narrative feature film
 A poetic blending of the personal and political, “Skies of Lebanon” combines live action with animation to create a vivid picture of Lebanon, inspired by the family history of filmmaker Chloé Mazlo.

 Using stories told to her by her grandmother about life during the Lebanese Civil War, Mazlo crafts a touching and heart-breaking story of love during wartime.

‘On the Fence’ special mention for long documentary

By director Nasreen Zayat, who started making the film in 2011 and finished it in 2019, this personal film about her family home in Tama, Suhaj Province, was abandoned for years until it was threatened with annihilation.

The film reflects the struggle of its maker between the ideas and conservative habits she was raised with in her hometown of Suhaj and her current life in the capital with all its openness and progress.

While Nasreen's mother, who lives with her in Cairo, proposes to sell the house and buy a new apartment or another house, Nesreen clings to the home, which was a source of pride for her late father and represents part of her life she refuses to give up, even though it is inconsistent with her current life.

On long-distance visits, Nesreen tries to restore what she can of the home and retrieve some memories from within the dilapidated walls, such as audio tapes of her father and some school pamphlets, but every time she comes back to find what she had built, she moves closer to being destroyed again.

The film shows how the director was able to overcome an internal struggle in returning to her memories and searching for her past, which she considers a black box.

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