The Palestinian film Wajib (An Obligation) scooped three out of six major Annual Critics Awards distributed by the Arab Cinema Centre (ACC) during the Cannes Film Festival. This was the second year for the ACC to operate at Cannes, an event that runs 8-19 May.
Wajib was awarded Best Film and Best Screenplay, as well as Best Actor for Mohamed Bakri.
The remaining awards were distributed as follows: Best Actress for Mariam Al Ferjani for her role in Beauty and the Dogs (Tunisia), Best Director award to Ziad Doueiri for his film The Insult (Lebanon) and Best Documentary award for Taste of Cement, a film by Ziad Kalthoum (Lebanon, Syria)
Film critic and media figure Youssef Cherif Rizkallah received the Achievement Award for Film Critics.
Annemarie Jacir's film Wajib is a family drama about community ties and local traditions centred on the story of 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.
The film stars Palestinian actor and director Mohammad Bakri and his real-life son, Saleh Bakri, the Palestinian theatre and film actor.
Wajib was Palestine's selection in the foreign language films category at the 90th Academy Awards, but did not make the final list.
The winners of the ACC's Annual Critics Awards were selected by 62 film critics from 28 countries around the world through voting at a special ceremony.
The Arab Cinema Centre (ACC) seeks to highlight the profession of film criticism by honouring an Arab or foreign film critic annually at Cannes.
The awards ceremony was attended by the cream of the crop of the Arab and international cinema field. Among attendees were producer Mohamed Hefzy (Film Clinic) and producer Daniel Ziskind, Film Clinic's European representative, Antoine Khalife, special advisor to Arab Radio & Television (ART), representatives of the Royal Film Commission-Jordan (RFC), Rotana, the Iraqi Independent Film Centre (IIFC), Art City For Cinema and TV Production, Cinema 70, Egyptian star Laila Eloui, producers and distributors Marianne Khoury and Gaby Khoury, and film analyst Alaa Karkouti, co-founder of the Arab Cinema Centre and CEO of MAD Solutions.
Alaa Karkouti congratulated the recipients of the awards, saying "It's a great accomplishment that four of the Annual Critics Awards went to two films made by female directors — Wajib by Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir and Beauty and the Dogs byTunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania. This female presence is a strong indicator of the diversity that the Arab film industry is witnessing."
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