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'Blessed Benefit' wins 2 awards at Dubai film festival

Jordanian film directed by Mahmoud Al-Massad picks up two awards at Dubai Film Connection, part of 8th Dubai International Film Festival

Ahram Online, Tuesday 13 Dec 2011
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The Jordanian film project ‘Blessed Benefit’ (‘Inshalla Istafadet’), directed by Mahmoud Al-Massad, won two awards at the Dubai Film Connection, which, as part of the 8th International Dubai Film Festival, is slated to wrap up on 14 December.

Film producer Rula Nasser won membership in the Producers Network, an international network of over 550 renowned film producers, which will enable five filmmakers to participate in the Cannes Film Festival and communicate with prominent film production companies all over the world.

Al-Massad also won a $6000 award from the Arte Network, a Franco-German television channel, for ‘Blessed Benefit.’The same film previously won the 2011 Shasha Grant, worth $100,000, from the Abu Dhabi Film Commission.

‘Blessed Benefit’was produced by Jo Image, a Jordanian production company founded in 2004. The film is considered a black comedy – unprecedented in Jordanian cinema – that tackles current events in the Arab world, especially the ongoing Arab Spring revolutions that kicked off late last year in Tunisia.

The film tells the story of construction worker Ahmad, who gets tangled up in an unfortunate business deal that ends up landing him in jail. At one point, Ahmad realises that life in prison might be one of greater freedom – even better than the one he led outside; a safe haven far from life’s challenges and responsibilities.

Al-Massad boasts two previous successful documentaries, ‘Recycle’ and ‘My Picture When I Was Dead.’ ‘Recycle’ won the World Cinema Cinematography Award at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and was screened at over 70 festivals. It was released theatrically in several European countries and was eventually sold to US distributor ITVS.

‘My Picture When I Was Dead’ (co-produced with ITVS and VPRO and supported by the Dubai Film Connection Pitch Award) premiered at IDFA in 2010 and won Best Documentary at the 2010 Dubai International Film Festival. During the film's post-production stage, it won seven awards in the ‘Cinema in Motion’ section at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

Both of Al-Massad's earlier documentaries received financial support from the Sundance Institute, and both films are currently taught at several European academies for cinematic arts.

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