Three Arab winners of the Berlinale's Robert Bosch Stiftung Film Prize

Ahram Online , Monday 13 Feb 2017

The Film Prize is part of Berlinale Talents at the currently-running 67th Berlin International Film Festival

robert stiftung prize
Film Prize ceremony (Photo: courtesy of Mad Solutions)

Arab filmmakers Ahmed Saleh, Nada Riyadh and Yakout Elhababi were the announced winners of the Robert Bosch Stiftung Film Prize, recognized in a ceremony that took place on Sunday as part of Berlinale Talents at the 67th Berlin International Film festival.

Saleh's animation film Night was the winner in the animation category, director and writer Riyadh's film The Trap in the short fiction category, and director Elhababi's Behind Closed Doors in the documentary section.

Berlinale Talents is a summit and networking platform that is part of the annual Berlinale festival.

The film prize is comprised of three grants, each worth 60,000 Euros, for co-production between German and Arab filmmakers.

The awards may be used to partially or completely fund the films, and winners are provided with the foundation’s consultancy services during the production period.

Salah’s animation Night revolves around a mother who has not been able sleep for years and meets a storyteller whose stories can heal sleepless souls.

According to a press release from Mad Solutions, the film received the prize for its sad yet compelling story, it’s craftsmanship that brings to life what is not living through the beautifully drawn animations.

Saleh was also a winner of the Student Academy Award in 2016 for Best Foreign Short Animation Film for his previous film Ayny.

The Trap, written and directed by Riyadh, takes place in a desolate, run-down Egyptian seaside resort, where working-class Aya finds herself increasingly trapped by her domineering boyfriend Islam.

‘To what lengths will she go to break free?’ the film asks.

The story tackles pain and desperation, and the impossible.

The artistic direction of The Trap impressed the jurors.

“We feel that the director will be able to deal with the challenge of the film, with the thoughts, with the emotions, with the bodies and the frustrations of the main characters. With the visual profile and identity of the film,” the jury said at the ceremony, according to the press release.

Elhababi's documentary Behind Closed Doors centers on farmer's family living in the most marginalized region of Morocco, the Rif mountains ,where livelihood relies exclusively on growing cannabis, a risky illegal practice.

The film explores the inherent taboo weighing on the family’s adults and children, who mimick the parent's work with their games.

With the stakes high for the film's characters, the jury is drawn into this community's search for stability in the day-to-day as they confront anxieties stemming from their shared livelihood.

This film provokes the type of questions we all face about enduring for the sake of the future, while wondering how the next generation will survive in a continuously shifting landscape.

The international jury members include the Arab members: Marianne Khoury, the co-director of of Misr International Films (MIF) in Egypt, Hania Mroué, the founder and director of the Metropolis Art Cinema in Lebanon, and George David, the general manager of The Royal Film Commission in Jordan (RFC) from the Arab World. 


Five other international members are Vincenzo Bugno, Project Manager of the World Cinema Fund and Berlinale delegate, Doris Hepp, Commissioning Editor of ZDF/ARTE, Dr. Elke Kaschl Mohni, Regional Director of the Goethe-Institut for the MENA region, Hania Mroué, Founder and Director of the Metropolis Art Cinema in Lebanon; and Producer Alexander Wadouh, Founder of Chromosom.

The first edition of the Robert Bosch Stiftung Film Prize for German-Arab projects was launched in 2013. Offering a yearlong training programme it primarily aims to support young emerging talents from Germany and the Arab world in the film business, provide expert knowledge in the development of their projects and open a door to the international film market. 

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