(Photo: still from Haifa Street)
Iraqi director Mohanad Hayal's feature drama Haifa Street had a full house screening at Zawya Cinema last Tuesday.
According to the film's brief, Haifa Street is set in Baghdad in 2006, one of the most dangerous places amid the civil war and violence that plagued the city.
"When Ahmed is dropped off there by a taxi on his way to his beloved Suad's house to ask for her hand in marriage, he gets shot by Salam, an anxious young sniper who is living his own personal hell on a rooftop above. Suad desperately tries to save Ahmed, but Salam prevents anyone from approaching him under the threat of gunfire. When her daughter Nadia elicits the help of their cunning neighbour, Dalal, all hell breaks loose under the ominous presence of the American occupation."
The film had its Arab world premiere at the Carthage Film Festival (JCC), and then was screened during the 41st edition of the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF, 20-29 November 2019) within the Horizons of Arab Cinema competition, where it won awards for Best Arabic Film and Best Acting Performance.
Prior to CIFF, Haifa Street garnered six other awards including the Best Film at the Busan International Film Festival, the Laser Film Award and HAKKA Distribution Award at the Takmil Workshop of the Carthage Film Festival (JCC), the Lab Award from the Asia Pacific Academy, Market Award at the Tribeca International Film Festival, and the Cinescape Award, presented by Front Row at the Dubai International Film Festival.
Born in the city of Nasiriyah, Iraq, in 1985, Mohanad Hayal graduated from the Cinema Department in the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad in 2010.
His latest short film, Happy Birthday (2013), was selected at the Berlin International Film Festival and received the Rising Star Award at the 2014 Rhode International Film Festival in the United States.
Haifa Street is his debut feature film.
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