Tamer El-Said's In the Last Days of the City
won the award for best film at the Arab Critics Awards' ceremony
on Sunday. Youssef Shazli, the founder and managing director of Zawya, one of the film's co-producers, accepted the award on behalf of its director.
Egyptian director Mohamed Diab won the award for best director and best screen play for Clash, which he wrote with his brother Khaled.
Diab was given the award by prominent film critic Youssef Sherif Rizkallah.
Diab called on Arab and foreign critics and filmmakers to join in solidarity and show their support for El-Said’s film Last Days of the City, which has not been screened in Egypt. The film, according to its Egyptian distributors, has not yet been screened in its home country due to failure to gain permission from Egypt's Censorship Authority.
Diab’s comment came during the The Arab Cinema Center Annual Critics Awards ceremony at the Cannes Film Market.
Diab is also attending the Cannes Film Festival as a member of the Un Certain Regard Jury.
His film Clash was screened in the same section last year, receiving positive reviews from critics.
At the Arab Critics Awards (Photo: Adham Yousef)
Shazli told the audience that he is happy In the Last Days of the Ciy received the best-film award and hopes it will be screened soon in Cairo, the city that provides the background for the protagonist’s struggle.
Earlier in March, Zawya Distribution announced that the film would not be released as previously announced, saying they could not secure a permit from the Censorship Authority.
El-Said was not present at the ceremony due to personal engagements. However, he told Ahram Online by email: "This award feels very special since it's the first that bears the name of the region from which our film was born. Critics are the amazing people who allow us as filmmakers to discover a new depth in our work. I'm so thankful to all the jury members for honouring us with this award.
"Although In the Last Days of the City gave me beyond what I dreamt of in many ways, my biggest dream is to release the film in its home country. I hope that this award will help set this film free and allow it to be seen in Egypt, by the Egyptian people," El-Said added.
“It is sad that the film till now didn't get the censorship's permit to be screened in Cairo. And there is no clear information whether we will ever get this permit."
“I can understand that Mohamed Diab as a filmmaker feels how hard it is to work for years on a film and not be able to show it to your familiy and friends. Not showing this film in Cairo is a scar that is left with us. Despite all the success of the film abroad, it won’t have the same effect as screening it in Cairo,” he explained.
Mohamed Diab, awarded for best director and best screenplay for Clash at the Arab Critics Awards (Photo: Adham Yousef)
Other winners at the awards ceremony included Majd Mastoura for his role in the Tunisian film Hedi, while the best-actress award went to Heba Ali for her role in the Egyptian film Mohammed Hammad’s Withered Green (Akhdar Yabes).
Hammad's Withered Green, an Egyptian-French production, had its MENA premiere at Dubai International Film festival (DIFF). The film first screened at Festival International du Film Francophone de Namur (FIFF), which ran between 30 September and 6 October. The film tells the story of a traditional and conservative woman, who has to take care of Noha, her younger sister, after the death of their parents.
Alaa Karkouti, Co-founder of the ACC and CEO of MAD Solutions, said in a press release: “The Arab Cinema Center, through the Annual Critics Awards, continues to support and promote Arab cinema on the Arab and international levels.”
He added that other initiatives will be employed by the company to help Arab cinema establish its presence.
Ahmed Shawky, a film critic and the manager of the Critics Awards, said that this year’s ceremony will be the first of many in the future.
Shawky dedicated the ceremony to late Egyptian film critic Samir Farid and Palestinian film critic Bashar Ibrahim.
Among the critics behind the nominations and winner selection were Egypt’s Osama Abd El-Fatah and Tarek El-Shinnawi, as well as a round of renowned critics from around the world.
In the Last Days of the City (Photo: still from the film)
Clash (Photo: Still from the film)
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