Egyptian documentary Lift Like a Girl won the Golden Dove for Best Film in the German Competition, Long Film category, at the International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film, Germany, the 63rd edition of which took place between 26 October and 1 November.
Known as DOK Leipzig, the festival is one of the significant international events for documentary films with a history going back to the 1960s.
The awards ceremony took place at Leipzig’s CineStar movie theatre on 1 October with the juries and filmmakers joining the event remotely. In parallel, the event was live-streamed on the festival's website.
"We end DOK Leipzig with an award. I never really thought I'd be attending an award ceremony from my couch but there's a first time for everything," said film director Mayye Zayed on her Facebook page, adding that "Making this film has been a very long journey and it wasn't an easy one at all. So thanks to the great team who gave all they can to the film despite all the difficulties that we've been through."
The feature-length documentary Lift Like a Girl had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (10-19 September).
According to the brief released by the filmmaker Zayed on IMDb, the documentary follows a women’s weightlifting community that trains in the streets of Alexandria, focusing on 14-year-old Zebiba as she pursues her dream of becoming a professional weightlifter.
"Her coach, Captain Ramadan, believes so much in her and never takes no for an answer. He has been training world champion weightlifters for more than 20 years, including his daughter Nahla Ramadan, the former world champion, an Olympian and the pioneer of weightlifting in Egypt, as well as Abeer Abdel-Rahman, the first Arab female two-time Olympic medalist. For four years, Zebiba goes through victories and defeats, including major losses that shape her, as she finds her way from dust to gold," the brief reads.
Zayed previously worked on shorts Iskenderia (2012) and A Stroll Down Sunflower Lane (2016), with the latter being screened in the Berlinale in 2016 and going on to win the Best Experimental Film award in the 2019 edition of the Sharjah Film Platform.
She was also one of the six directors and scriptwriters of the collaborative production of drama Odet El-Feran (2013).
Zayed co-founded the Alexandria-based film production company Rufy’s Films and is a founder of Cléo Media, an independent production and distribution company.
Besides her work as a director and producer, Zayed worked as a cinematographer on Veve (2014), a feature film set in Kenya, produced by a German director Tom Tykwer and directed by Kenyan filmmaker Simon Mukali.
Her film I Have a Picture won the El Gouna Star for the Best Arab Documentary Film in 2017.
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