Representing the region

Yesterday was a successful night for Arab filmmakers, as the 2019 Sundance Film Festival handed out its awards. Aziza by Syrian director Soudade Kaadan and Dunya’s Day by Saudi filmmaker Raed Alsemari, were both awarded the highly coveted Jury Prize awards.

The prestigious Sundance Film Festival was held from January 24 to February 3 in the United States. This year the festival broke a record, with 14,259 submissions, from 152 countries.

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Aziza is 13-minute short film centered around the life of Syrian refugees, portrayed through black comedy. The film is Soudade’s second feature, following the success of The Day I Lost My Shadow which was awarded The Lion of the Future Award for best debut film in the 2018 Venice International Film Festival. The directors second directorial endeavor proved to be as successful as his first, as Aziz won the Short Film Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

This win means that the film will get the chance to reach wider audiences, as it will be part of the Select Festival short films programme, which will tour around 70 US and Canadian cities over the course of the year.

 

Raed Alsemari’s Dunya’s Day marked a milestone for Saudi cinema – it’s the first film from the Kingdom to premiere at the festival. The short film is a satirical comedy, it tells the story of a privileged Saudi student and socialite who is forced to arrange her own graduation party, after her domestic staff walk out in protest at her attitude. The film featured an all-female cast, as the director wanted to portray Arab women in a different light, where they are neither victims nor oppressed. The film won the Short Film Jury Prize for International Fiction.

Congratulations to Soudade and Raed!

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Media: Twitter, Sundance