Arab films, jury members at 74th Berlin Int'l Film Festival

Ahram Online , Thursday 8 Feb 2024

A few titles by Arab filmmakers made their way to the variety of segments of the upcoming Berlinale (15-25 February 2024). Sitting on jury panels are Sudanese filmmaker Amjad Abu Alala and Iraqi director and screenwriter Abbas Fahdel.



Sudanese filmmaker and scriptwriter known for the multi-award winning You Will Die at Twenty Abu Alala has been selected as a jury member for the Generation International Competition. 

Fahdel will sit on the jury panel of the Documentary Competition.

A few segments of the Berlinale feature films by Arab filmmakers.

Algerian film "True Chronicles of the Blida Joinville Psychiatric Hospital in the Last Century, when Dr Frantz Fanon Was Head of the Fifth Ward between 1953 and 1956" will have its world premiere in the Berlinale's Forum section. Written and directed by Abdenour Zahzah, the film focuses on Dr Frantz Fanon and his visionary social therapy methods during his time as a psychiatrist in Algeria from 1953 to 1956. 

Jordanian filmmaker Dina Naser will present his short film titled Sukoun within the Kplus Short Films segment. The film is a Jordanian, Egyptian, and Palestinian production. This will be the film's world premiere.

Meanhile, another Jordanian production The Stranger's Case will have its world premiere in the Berlinale Special Gala programme. Directed by Brandt Andersen, the film stars Yasmine Al Massri, Yahya Mahayni, Omar Sy, Ziad Bakri, Constantine Markoulakis. According to the film brief, the plot follows five families in four different countries at the time when a tragedy strikes one family in Aleppo, Syria.

Lebanese director Myriam el Hajj will have a world premiere of her documentary Diaries from Lebanon. Co-produced by Lebanon, France, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, the film will be screened in the Berlinale's Panorama Dokumente segment. 

The same segment will also feature a Palestinian film No Other Land, directed by Basel Adra, Hamdan Ballal, Yuval Abraham, Rachel Szor. The Berlinale's programme presents the film as follows: "This film made by a Palestinian-Israeli collective shows the destruction of the West Bank’s Masafer Yatta by Israeli authorities and the unlikely alliance which develops between the Palestinian activist Basel and Israeli journalist Yuval."

Tunisia is represented with the Academy Award nominated Tunisian-American director Meryam Joobeur. Her film Mé el Aïn (Who Do I Belong To) is the only Arab film in the main competition revealed so far. The film follows "Aïcha who lives on a farm in northern Tunisia. Her eldest sons Mehdi and Amine have gone away to war. When Mehdi returns home with a mysterious pregnant wife, a darkness emerges that threatens to engulf the entire village."

The Forum Expanded segment includes a film by a Moroccan artist based in London, Hicham Gardaf. Titled In Praise of Slowness, the film features Khalid Mousmi, Abdellah Ben Messaoud, and Fatima Benabbou. It is a UK production.

The same section will present Sarcophagus of Drunken Loves by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige. The Lebanese-French production looks at Beirut's electricity cuts, and its effects on the national museum, where "the visitors find themselves in darkness and use their phones to light the traces of past civilisations as their world crumbles."

Festival organizers are yet to reveal the details about film screenings and programme activities.

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