Egyptian football doc wins award at Berlinale Talents

The Egyptian documentary Amal (Hope) by Mohamed Siam won the Robert Bosch Stiftung Best Documentary award at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival, aka the Berlinale, on Sunday.

The Robert Bosch Stiftung award is presented each year to a short, an animation and a documentary film made by young Arab filmmakers with a German partner. Each film has to be in production to be eligible. The award is given within the framework of the Berlinale Talents, a six-day summit during the festival that gathers young filmmakers from around the world.

Siam’s film is about a teenager who joins the anti-establishment fan base of a Cairo football team and protests police repression. After the massacre of fellow football fans during an away game at the Port Said Stadium, she finds herself questioning whether she really has a place in an arena dominated by men and violence.

Last July, Amal was awarded the AfriDocs award during the Durban FilmMart. Siam has previously made short films and contributed to various international productions.

During the ceremony, which involved screening the 13 nominated films, the short film award was handed to The Parrot (Jordan-Germany) by Amjad Al Rasheed and Darin Salam, and the animation award to Clean Up The Living Room We’ve Got Visitors Coming by Ghassan Halwani.

The awards consist of up to 70,000 euro, which the winners must spend on their projects.

During the 64th Berlinale in 2014, Egyptian director Sherif al-Bendary went home with the Robert Bosch Stiftung short film award for Dry Hot Summers, written by Nura al-Sheikh, which is now in post-production.

This year’s Berlinale Forum Expanded, which has a focus on experimental films, also featured some Egyptian films. These included the semi-fictional Out on the Street (Jasmina Metwaly and Philip Rizk, 2014), Acapella (Islam Safiyyudin Mohamed), On a Different Note (Mohammad Shawky Hassan) and the Egyptian-UAE co-production La Dolce Siria (Ammar El-Beik).

This Berlinale, which runs from February 5 to 15, also features the first edition of the Arab Cinema Center (ACC) within the European Film Market, featuring several Arab production companies and organizations to promote and distribute Arab films to a wider international market.

The center, founded by MAD Solutions, also offers opportunities for Arab filmmakers to network with industry professionals and explore possibilities of distribution and co-production. The screenings in the ACC have included Mohamed Khan’s Factory Girl (2014) and Hadi al-Bagoury‘s horror film Warda (2014).

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