And the Winner was… “Film enthusiasts” who enjoyed this amazing edition which kicked off on the 3rd of October with the world-premiere screening of Lebanese film ‘Blind Intersections’ by director Lara Saba, and concluded yesterday night with “Looper” by Rian Johnson.
This edition featured 57 films from approximately 30 countries in 7 different categories: Middle Eastern Short Films, Middle Eastern Documentary Films, International Panorama, Lebanese Corner, Human Rights Watch Films, in addition to an Aki Kaurismaki retrospective and a focus on Stanley Kubrick.
This year’s edition was smaller and a more intimate one, due to the latest events in the region and the destabilized situation in Lebanon, which pushed some countries to impose a travel ban to Lebanon. As such, it was not possible to pledge enough guarantees to foreign VIP guests nor to deliver the films in due time.
The Festival was maybe smaller than past editions but what is good is that the festival did continue. Even though the current situation in the region isn’t quiet, it’s great to have a cultural festival so we feel there is something helping this region to stand up again as it’s been hit a lot.
Fewer films did not mean fewer thrills or lesser pleasures. Nor is it all going to be about cutting down, the festival screened this year’s best films and introduced new Lebanese talents.
The movie screen was always a place of discovery, dream and refuge. Film enthusiasts found all these magical emotions.
And the other official winners were…
“Bicycle” by Iraqi director Rizgar Husein won the Gold “Aleph” for Best Middle-Eastern Short Film. “Bicycle”, which won the Best scenario/ Best short film at the Gulf Film Festival 2012, is the story of Hajar and Kovanwho gather Pepsi cans from the garbage around the city every day, in order to sell it and gain some money. Hajar’s dream is to have a bicycle and ride it. Later on, he meets Karzan, who has a bicycle. But Karzan is very arrogant.
“The Gardener” by Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf won the Best Middle-Eastern Documentary Film Award.
“La femme aux raisins” by Lebanese director Mike Malajalian, won the Silver “Aleph” for Best Middle-Eastern Short Film. The film tells the story of Sevag, an 8 year old boy, who is playing hide & seek in the garden of the hotel with his friend Maria. While trying to hide in the hotel, he sees a couple going into a room. Intrigued, he takes a look from the keyhole and sees the man laying some grapes on the woman’s belly. After a second encounter with the lady, Sevag becomes obsessed by her.
The Third Prize for Short Films went to “Leftover” by Lebanese director Elham Abi Rached. It’s the story of Samir, a 65 year old man, reminisces the good old days he spent close to his family and friends, only to find out that war in Lebanon has completely changed his world.
“Starring Julia” by Lebanese director Elie Fahed, was awarded the Special Jury Award (Orbit Award) for Short Films. It is the story of Julia, a 70 year old lady who decides, one day, to pursue her dream of becoming an actress.
Katia Jarjoura was granted the Best Director Award in the Documentary Films Competition for her film “Goodbye Mubarak”, which highlights the latest parliamentary elections in November 2010 and the consequent protests which sparked the revolution of January 25, 2011, which led to the fall of Mubarak’s regime.
It was an amazing dream, maybe too short or maybe we woke up too early. One thing is sure, we are waiting for the 13th edition!