The first edition of the Jerusalem Festival for Arab Cinema (JFAC) will feature many award-winning feature, documentary and short films.
Running from 20 to 24 January, the festival is organized by Art Lab, located in East Jerusalem, Palestine.
In an online interview posted on the festival’s Facebook page, JFAC director Nevine Shaheen said the festival is meant to celebrate the achievements of cinema in the Arab world and provide an opportunity for the Jerusalemite audience to learn about Arab films and interact with its makers.
She added that since East Jerusalem is isolated from other Arab countries, the festival is an opportunity to interact with Arab cinematic experiences and with Arab cultural and human life in general. In addition, the event provides a rare entertainment space for the Jerusalemite community.
The festival will screen a number of international award-winning Arab films, many of which are being nominated to the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film 2021 by their respective countries.
The JFAC will offer prizes in three categories: feature, documentary, and short films.
Poster of the 1st Jerusalem Festival for Arab Cinema
The Feature Film competition jury will be presided by Mohamad Keblawi (Sweden/ Palestine) who is also a founder and director of Malmo Arab Film Festival. Jury members include Mai Masri (Palestine) and Amir Ramses (Egypt).
Six films will compete for the award with 200 Meters (Palestine), written and directed by Ameen Nayfeh, scheduled to open the festival on 20 January.
Other contenders include A Son by Mehdi Barsoui (Tunisia), For the Cause by Hassan Benjelloun (Morocco), Scales by Shahad Ameen (Saudi Arabia), The Woman in Block J by Mohamed Nadif (Morocco) and When We’re Born by Tamer Ezzat (Egypt).
The Documentary Film competition will be presided by Hady Zaccak (Lebanon) with jury members Hala Galal (Egypt) and Zeina Daccache (Lebanon).
The competition will feature five films: Beirut Terminus by Elie Kamal and Underdown by Sarah Kaskas from Lebanon, Ibrahim a Fate to Define by Lina Alabed from Palestine, Tiny Soul by Dina Naser from Jordan and a French/German production Not Just Your Picture directed by A. Pack and D. Dayan.
The Short Film competition jury will be headed by Anissa Daoud (Tunisia) with members Ola Alsheikh (Palestine / Jordan) and Ely Dagher (Lebanon).
This section will screen a total of eight films representing three countries: Egypt, Palestine, and Lebanon. Egypt is represented by Extra Safe by Nouran Sherif, I Am Afraid to Forget Your Face by Sameh Alaa, Sunday at Five by Sherif Elbendary and Ward’s Henna Party by Morad Mostafa.
From Lebanon the films entering the competition are Ome by Wassim Geagea, and Roadblock by Dahlia Nemlich. Palestine will showcase In Vitro by Larissa Sansour and Selfie Zein by Amira Diab.
The festival will also hold workshops and seminars, bringing together filmmakers, producers, screenwriters, actors and the audience.
The festival’s poster is designed by Lebanese-Dutch Tarek Atrissi, one of the most recognised designers in the Arab world and founder of Tarek Atrissi Design, a Netherlands-based design studio.