This year, the Berlinale film festival has launched a new award, the Glashutte Original Documentary Award. The three-member jury designated to choose the winner consists of Mexican film critic Daniela Michel, American filmmaker Laura Poitras and Swiss-Iraqi screenwriter and director Samir.
Born in Baghdad in 1955, Samir moved to Switzerland with his family at the age of seven. He went on to study at Zurich University of the Arts in the 1980s, where he trained to be a typesetter. It was then that he began working in cinema as cameraman, director and screenwriter. He has since created over 40 short and full length films, including his documentary Iraqi Odyssey which was screened in the Berlinale Panorama in 2015, and submitted by Switzerland for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
The Glashutte Original Documentary Award is funded by watch manufacturer Glashutte Original, and is endowed to 50,000 Euros. Sixteen documentaries from the Competition, Berlinale Special, Panorama, Forum, Generation and Perspektive Deutsches Kino sections are competing for the award. Among them are two Arab films.
The first is the French-Swiss-Palestinian co-production Istiyad Ashbah (Ghost Hunting), directed by Raed Andoni. The film follows a group of ex-prisoners from Israeli detention centres shooting a film within the film, in which they re-enact some of their experiences. Ghost Hunting is also taking part in the Panorama section of the festival.
The second is the Moroccan/Qatari co-production Tigmi N Igren (House in the Fields). The film, which was directed by Tala Hadid, chronicles life in an isolated rural Amazigh (Berber) community in the High Atlas Mountain. It follows two villagers in particular, two teenage sisters, one of who must leave school in order to get married, and the other who dreams of becoming a judge. House in the Fields is taking part in the Forum section of the festival.
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