The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) announced today the second and last batch of film projects to receive grants from Crossroads. Six projects were selected one feature-length narrative, two short narratives and three documentaries.

The selected projects were announced during a press conference held today at "Metropolis" Sofil in the presence of AFAC representatives as well as the jurors.
The second cycle of Crossroads (open between January 12 and April 12, 2012) received 142 applications from across the Arab world. A jury committee combining film experts from different backgrounds and nationalities evaluated the projects and selected the 6 films to receive support from Crossroads.

The jury for the first and second cycles of Crossroads was composed of director Ali Essafi (Morocco), producer Dora Bouchoucha (Tunisia), director Ghassan Salhab (Lebanon), director Mohamed Soueid (Lebanon) and producer/distributor Irit Neidhardt (Germany).

Crossroads emerged from the need to support cinematographic expression against the backdrop of the period of turmoil in the Arab world since the end of 2010. Crossroads provided the appropriate framework for emerging directors looking to execute projects that probe new modes of visual expression, outside of the agenda set by TV stations and production houses.

The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (Beirut) is an independent Arab initiative funding cultural projects in the Arab World. Its special program, Crossroads, aims at supporting cinema projects of all categories (fiction features, feature-length documentaries, fiction shorts, experimental films, animation etc…).
Crossroads provides financial and professional support to the selected projects in the development stage and accompanies them in development, production, post-production, promotion and distribution.

The first cycle of Crossroads received 56 applications from which six projects were selected by the jury to receive grants: Upside Down by Ahmad Ghossein (Lebanon), “The Little Eagles” by Mohammad Rashad (Egypt), “Momenutm” by Fadi Yeni Turk (Lebanon), “Algerians, State of Affairs, State of Mind…” by Bahia BenCheikh El-Fegoun (Algeria), “Behind the Wall” by Karima Zoubir (Morocco), “And on a Different Note” by Mohammad Shawky Hasan (Egypt).

The two-day jury discussions in Beirut led to the selection of the second and last batch of six film projects to receive Crossroads grants. Commenting on the films selected, the jury said “The selected projects are very much representative of the spirit of “Crossroads,” touching on the ongoing changes in the Arab societies through personal approaches, while digging up visual expressions that restore meaning to the language of film, one that is deeper and wider in approach than the existing mediatization of the current events and movements.”

Moreover, the jury had sensed “a new dynamic from the first cycle of Crossroads to the second. Filmmakers are really trying to find their own way, and even though they are not there yet, it is still very interesting and refreshing to know that they are setting a foot on this path.”

Regarding the strong presence of documentary projects, the jury said that “the abundance of documentary projects is less a sign of vitality than a tendency to take for granted the art of documentary film as an easier form.”

The Selected Projects:

1-Project Title: Out/In the Streets
Director: Philip Rizk and Jasmina Metwaly
Country: Egypt
Type: Documentary

This is a film about labor workers. Throughout the ongoing Egyptian Revolution some workers have lost a relative or friend; most continue to be exploited by factory owners and many are fighting back and resisting. This film mixes the forms of documentary and fiction in order to see the Egyptian revolution from the workers’ perspective beyond the factory’s heavy gates, beyond the frozen assembly lines and rusty machinery. The film challenges both the visual discourse of the role of labor workers in film, as well as the workers’ political narrative in the context of the revolution in Egypt.

2-Project Title: The Curve
Director: Rifqi Assaf
Country: Jordan
Type: Narrative

One night, “Radi”, a Jordanian of Palestinian origins suffering from social phobia, hears a shrilling scream in the distance. Despite his phobia, he challenges himself by switching on the lights of his home – a VW microbus. With the seemingly trivial switching on of a light, he soon finds himself on a road trip that alters his clockwork and very private lifestyle. A series of unanticipated events occur along the way - past and present memories and surprising illusions reveal themselves in collective confrontations.

3- Project Title: Fatherland
Director: Sara Ishak
Country: Yemen
Type: Documentary

The film follows the filmmaker’s personal documentation of a casual reunion between estranged family members which escalates into an all-engulfing popular uprising. The film also focuses on the shifting dynamics between women and men within the context of a modern Yemeni family, testing all preconceived ideas about identity, social customs, familial and social bonds at a time when women's roles and input have become integral to the Yemeni revolution.

4- Project Title: A Very Dangerous Man
Director: Mazen Khaled
Country: Lebanon
Type: Short fiction

Beirut, Lebanon; April 2012. Life seems as normal as can be in this city, yet something is bubbling underneath. As people go about their normal lives, a political activist gets chased around the streets of Hamra. Meanwhile, a suspicious looking bag easily changes hands, gets transported, and awaits an unknown destination in a busy Hamra cafe.

5- Project Title: Abruption
Director: Djemal Fawzy
Country: Tunisia
Type: Short fiction

Tunisia lives in a climate of terror and violence two days after January 14th; an atmosphere of insecurity prevails in the country and in the heart of the people. Ramla, a 26-year-old movies props woman, has been busy for weeks in a shooting of a thriller. Forced to finish the missing few days of shooting, the team resumes work in a very tense atmosphere. Forty five minutes before curfew, Ramla leaves the movie set to go straight home. Thwarted by the tense and stressful day, she forgets one crucial detail and finds herself in a complicated situation.

6- Project Title: Caravan in a Room
Director: Hazem Al Hamwi
Country: Syria
Type: Documentary

In 2011, the popular uprising began in Syria after a period of political stagnation that lasted more than four decades. When the unrest erupted, anyone that went to the streets to express his fury was killed. In the first months, I had the deep feeling that death was near. How could it be different since the killing was occurring in streets contiguous to the one I was living in? I decided to face this feeling with a mix of courage and positivity. I decided to accomplish things that would provide me pleasure. In a similar way someone needs to leave a final trace of his life, I found myself driven instinctually towards the two things that could bring be the almost pleasure, i.e. painting and photography. Photography provided me with time in order to discover myself. That would include ideas corrosion and regression in memory and connecting all that was happening in my country in lots of streets in Syria, with a heavy memory full of violence. The whole world watched violence like if it was something (new) and repellent. While I knew it very well, whether at school or in the street or in the family. It was ancient for me, as ancient as my birth date, except that right now, it was floating on the surface. The movie narrates stories from Syria, personal stories and others related to our society, whether from the present or the past, in order to explain the reason behind the outbreak of the revolution, and how can the soul evolve from desiring death to desiring life.


Ali Essafi:

Ali Essafi (Morocco). Ali Essafi was born in Morocco in 1963. He studied psychology in France, then entered the world of filmmaking. His works as a director include Général, nous voilà (General, here we come !, 1997), a documentary about Moroccan veterans of the french army. It was awarded the Special Jury Award at the Namur Film Festival in Belgium, and shown in Carthage and at the Paris Arab film biennal. Le Silence des champs de betteraves (The silence of the root fields, 1998), was awarded the Grand Prix at the International Festival of Environmental Film & Video in Paris, and was also included in the Cinéma du Réel documentary festival. In 2001 his Ouarzazat Movie was awarded the Best Mediterraneen Documentary at the CMCA, and praised on the international circuit. In 2002 Ali Essafi was back to Morocco where he made others documentaries, then he got involved in a public TV for 3 years as an Art Director Adviser. He just finished Wanted!his last film, commissioned by the 10th Sharjah Biennial and selected by the MoMA’s program of the Experimental Arab Film “Mapping Subjectivity” . Currently based in Casablanca, he lived and worked between Morocco and Brazil.

Ghassan Salhab:

Ghassan Salhab (SENEGAL/LEBANON): In addition to making his own films, Salhab collaborates on various scenarios in Lebanon and in France, and teaches film in Lebanon. He has directed four feature films: Beyrouth Fantôme (selected by Trois Continents/Nantes 1998 and various international film festivals), Terra Incognita (selected by Sélection Officielle/«Un Certain Regard » - Cannes 2002, and by several other international film festivals), The Last Man (selected by « Cinéastes du Présent » - Locarno 2006, Montpellier, Torino, Dubai, Singapore, Tribeca, "Tous les cinemas du monde" – Cannes 2007…), and 1958 (selected by FID Marseille, Locarno, MEIFF Abu Dhabi…), in addition to numerous short films and videos, including (Posthume); Narcisse Perdu; My living body, my dead body; La Rose de personne; Baalbeck (co-directed with A. Zaatari and M. Soueid); Afrique Fantôme; Après la Mort. He has also published articles in various magazines.

Mohammed Soueid

Mohammed Soueid (LEBANON): Born in Beirut and a graduate of the Lebanese University with a bachelor of science (chemistry), Soueid began writing weekly film criticism for the daily newspapers of Assafir and An-Nahar. He directed an award-winning autobiographical trilogy of documentaries: Tango of Yearning (1998), Nightfall (2000) and Civil War (2002). His books include the non-fiction directory Postponed Cinema-The Lebanese Civil War Films (1986) and the novel Cabaret Souad (2004). He is currently a commissioning editor at Al-Arabiya News Channel for which he had directed a number of documentaries including: My Heart Beats Only For Her (2009) and How Bitter My Sweet (2010).


Dora Bouchoucha graduated in English Literature and has been a film producer since 1994. She has produced and co-produced several Tunisian and foreign documentaries, short and feature films including Africa Dreaming, (a series of short African films) Sabria by Abderrahmen Sissako, The Season of men by Moufida Tlatli, Baraket by Jamila Sahraoui, Satin Rouge and Buried Secrets by Raja Amari. Her films have been selected at Venice, Cannes and Berlin.

Dora Bouchoucha founded the Carthage Film Festival Projects’ workshop in 1992. She also founded the SUD ECRITURE workshops in 1997, which she has been running since. Dora Bouchoucha is actively involved in training and promotion for southern cinema. She was a permanent member of the International Rotterdam Festival CineMart Board for more than ten years and was consultant for Arab and African films for the selection board of Venice Film Festival from 2007 to 2011.
She was head of Carthage Film Festival in 2008 and 2010.
In 2010, she was appointed head of Fonds Sud. In 2012, she was appointed President of the CNC “Aide aux cinémas du Monde” .


Short films
« AFRICA DREAMING » series of 6 shorts
* « SABRYA » by Abderrahman SISSAKO
* « AVRIL » by Raja AMARI
* « MAMA AFRICA» series of 6 shorts

Etalon d’argent Yennenga – FESPACO 2007
* “MOUJA” by Mohamed BEN ATTIA
* « LOI 76 » by Mohamed BEN ATTIA

Fiction Features

Special Mention, La Semaine de la Critique. Mostra de Venise 1998

Selected at the FORUM, Berlin Festival 2002
Best New Director Award – Seattle Film Festival
Audience Award – Maine Film Festival
Best film Award –Montréal
Best Film Award –Turin
Best film Awardn Best Actress Award, Best Cinematography Award - Festival de La Cuenca, Ecuador

« BARAKET » by Djamila SAHRAOUI (Algeria)
Grand prix Cairo 2006
Grand Prix DUBAI 2006

Official Selection Mostra de Venise 2009

Irit Neidhardt
Irit Neidhardt is a distributor, co-producer and curator for films and film-programs from the Middle East. She is associate producer of Mahmoud al Massad’s award winning feature-documentary RECYCLE and co-producer of Simon el-Habre’s highly acclaimed THE ONE MAN VILLAGE and his latest GATE #5. She is author of various articles on subjects related to cinema and the Middle East, focusing on questions of co-production and of audience reception.

AFAC announces the Second and Final batch of film projects to receive grants from Crossroads

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