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‘Sauvage / Wild’ Explores the Danger (and Love) of Sex Work

You’re looking for real intimacy and you couldn’t pick a worse place to find it. Not if you’re the gay male hustler driving the plot of Sauvage/Wild, the raw and riveting debut feature from French writer-director Camille Vidal-Naquet.

“My name is whatever you want it to be,” this unnamed, unwashed wild child tells the tricks who use him as a piece of meat. He gets paid for it, after all. In interviews, Vidal-Naquet refers to this achingly vulnerable soul as Leo. And yet the homeless Leo,
See full article at Rolling Stone »

‘Sauvage / Wild’ Film Review: Debut Feature Examines a Gay Hustler’s Life Without Sentimentality

  • The Wrap
‘Sauvage / Wild’ Film Review: Debut Feature Examines a Gay Hustler’s Life Without Sentimentality
There have been quite a few high-quality American films about male prostitution, from John Schlesinger’s Oscar-winning “Midnight Cowboy” to Gus Van Sant’s “My Own Private Idaho” and Gregg Araki’s “Mysterious Skin,” and from France there has been Patrice Chéreau’s “L’Homme blessé,” and several films from André Téchiné, most notably “J’embrasse pas,” which translates as “I Don’t Kiss.”

Camille Vidal-Naquet’s first feature “Sauvage/Wild” is very much in the Téchiné tradition of “J’embrasse pas,” and the subject of kissing or not kissing is actually central to the narrative. What’s most impressive about this film is the intricacy of Naquet’s screenplay, which plays out in a series of subtly mirroring episodes that follow the life of Leo, a 22-year-old street kid played by Félix Maritaud, who made an impression on screen in “Bpm (Beats Per Minute)” and carries this movie almost singlehandedly.
See full article at The Wrap »

“He Stays the Strongest Because He Has This Unquenchable Love in His Heart”: Writer/Director Camille Vidal-Naquete and Actor Félix Maritaud on Sauvage/Wild

Leo (Félix Maritaud) never counts his money after he’s with a client. The gay sex worker at the center of Camille Vidal-Naquet’s film Sauvage/Wild is, honestly, happy to be there. Drifting from client to client and from place to place, the homeless hustler has one constant that is quickly disappearing: his unrequited feelings for fellow hustler (though “gay 4 pay”), Ahd (Éric Bernard). Leo’s intense yearning for human connection and affection, mixed with his somewhat paradoxical disinclination to be “kept” in a (facile) domestic situation, and ailing body but unrelenting spirit, are reminiscent of Giulietta Masina in Federico Fellini’s Nights […]
See full article at Filmmaker Magazine_Director Interviews »

“He Stays the Strongest Because He Has This Unquenchable Love in His Heart”: Writer/Director Camille Vidal-Naquete and Actor Félix Maritaud on Sauvage/Wild

Leo (Félix Maritaud) never counts his money after he’s with a client. The gay sex worker at the center of Camille Vidal-Naquet’s film Sauvage/Wild is, honestly, happy to be there. Drifting from client to client and from place to place, the homeless hustler has one constant that is quickly disappearing: his unrequited feelings for fellow hustler (though “gay 4 pay”), Ahd (Éric Bernard). Leo’s intense yearning for human connection and affection, mixed with his somewhat paradoxical disinclination to be “kept” in a (facile) domestic situation, and ailing body but unrelenting spirit, are reminiscent of Giulietta Masina in Federico Fellini’s Nights […]
See full article at Filmmaker Magazine »

‘Sauvage / Wild’ Review: A Raw and Visceral Character Study About a Love-Addicted Sex Worker

There have been any number of films about lonely men who fall in love with a prostitute, but Camille Vidal-Naquet’s raw and visceral “Sauvage / Wild” is the rare film about a prostitute who falls in love with another man. But Leo can’t afford to be stingy with his affections; he’s driven by an insatiable and undiscriminating desire for intimacy.

An untethered 22-year-old sex worker who lives on the streets of Strasbourg, and is ferally embodied by Félix Maritaud (who played a supporting role in the bracing “Bpm”), Leo doesn’t care about money or moving up in the world, nor does he resent his clients the way that some of his fellow sex workers do. In fact, he seems to lack any natural ability to separate feeling from fucking, and he needs as much from his johns as his johns need from him. When Leo offers to
See full article at Indiewire »

The Pleasures of Ambiguity

  • MUBI
SauvageNew Directors/New Films (Nd/Nf) returns to the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Museum of Modern Art for its 48th edition, and once again proves that for New Yorkers it’s the key festival to discover an exciting new crop of young filmmakers, most of them presenting debut or second features. The program includes some movies previously covered on Notebook: Sofia Bohdanowicz’s Ms Slavic 7, Peter Parlow’s The Plagiarists, and Mark Jenkin’s Bait (Berlin Film Festival premieres), Andrea Bussmann’s Fausto (Locarno Festival), Phuttiphong Aroonpheng’s Manta Ray (Venice), Ognjen Glavonić’s The Load (Directors' Fortnight), and Eva Torbisch’s All Is Good (Locarno). While diverse, overall, this year’s slate is thoughtful and yet agile, with films that invite both risk and ambiguity.Not since Agnès Varda’s Vagabond (1985) has there been a film in which the main character drifts into willful dissolution with as
See full article at MUBI »

Nd/Nf Review: ‘Sauvage/Wild’ is a Visceral, Contrived Look at a Man Pushed to Extremes

Sauvage/Wild opens with a gay hustler in a doctor’s office. As he discusses his ill health—his cough, his odd stomach pains—the camera, like the examiner’s hands, passes carefully over the bruises on his ribcage, his abdomen, down over his groin. Such frank corporeality is familiar from other gay films which seek to expose and honor the wounds society inscribes onto vulnerable bodies—Sauvage’s star, Félix Maritaud, played one of the Act Up members in 120 Bpm—but then the scene shifts gears, becoming not quite a parody, but certainly an affectionate meta-joke on the ways in which the serious-minded and erotic prerogatives of queer cinema elide into each other.

It’s the wittiest moment in a film which frequently falls back on contrived, conventional storytelling at odds its with its body-and-soul immersion into the physical and emotional toll of life on the game. One is
See full article at The Film Stage »

Cannes Film Review: ‘Sauvage’

New Wave godmother Agnès Varda has been laden with any number of honors and tributes in recent years, but she hasn’t received a better one, albeit indirectly so, than “Sauvage.” Even the title of Camille Vidal-Naquet’s tough but invigorating debut feature recalls the unmoored, asphalt-pounding energy of Varda’s seminal 1985 character study “Vagabond,” though the feral human subject here is a gay male prostitute, as hardened by the elements and the travails of his profession as he is vulnerable to them. Played with potent, unpredictable abandon by Félix Maritaud, he’s a protagonist you fear and fear for by turns, as he recklessly roams the streets, nightclubs and backwoods of Strasbourg in search of more than just the physical contact he’s freely selling. Though hardly revolutionary in form, the frank, sometimes violent queerness of its perspective makes his Cannes Critics’ Week entry genuinely bracing: Distributors inclined towards
See full article at Variety »

‘Collateral’ Review: Carey Mulligan Is Fantastic in Netflix UK Detective Drama That Reaches Far Beyond London

‘Collateral’ Review: Carey Mulligan Is Fantastic in Netflix UK Detective Drama That Reaches Far Beyond London
A detective story without a clear central figure is a tricky proposition. Most mysteries, especially when a brutal unsolved murder is involved, benefit from having a north star, a home base for the series to return to when it’s needed most. If there’s one notable thing about “Collateral,” a co-production between the BBC and Netflix, it’s that instead of filtering the entire story through the psyche of a sole lead investigator, this four-part series is grounded in a half-dozen entry points. The result is something that isn’t groundbreaking at every turn, but it’s a show that tries to take a more global view to a localized crime.

Although the series isn’t entirely trained on her character, Carey Mulligan is still an excellent, welcome addition to the TV landscape. She stars as Kip Glaspie, a London detective investigating the death of Abdullah Atif, shot and
See full article at Indiewire »

Arab Cinema in Cannes

Two new film festivals in the Arab world — and not in the Gulf States region where Kuwait had its first festival last month — have announced their first editions. Jordan and Egypt, along with the first ever Arab Critics Awards casts a new light onto just what Arab cinema is.

What began several years ago in the recently oil-rich Gulf nations of Dubai, Abu-Dhabi and Qatar who first brought the notion of Arab cinema to the western world with expensive receptions (including a camel one year at the Toronto Film Festival) and ultra fancy festivals (Abu Dhabi has since bowed out of its Tribeca Ff partnership and pulled back on all but its film fund) has now come to a more balanced sharing of Arabic cinema as a multi-culturally wealthy medium.

With the growth of Cairo-based Mad Solutions which started as a public relations agency for Arab-content cinema and expanded into
See full article at SydneysBuzz »

Women to Watch: Actress and Filmmaker Ahd Kamel

Women in Arab countries create a distinct impression on westerners. To be blunt, their clothes instill a feeling within us Westerners of restriction, even of servitude to men. And it is true that the societies are patriarchal, but Western society is also patriarchal and we must remember it is less than 100 years since we Western Women got the vote. In fact, the French woman got the vote in 1944, in 1946, Greece in 1952, San Marino in 1959, Monaco in 1962, Andorra in 1970, Switzerland in 1971, and Liechtenstein in 1984. And look at how quickly we have moved into positions of responsibility -- although we still have a ways to go toward parity.

That the Saudia Arabian woman just got the vote last year does not mean she is unaware of the world and the times in which we all are living. Additionally, she must contend with the current recent world reaction to the Saudi Arabian government’s execution of a Shiite cleric who was actively campaigning for religious equality between Sunni and Shiite Muslims and to their support of the Syrian government. Women also must hold families together in the face of men waging wars and forcing mass migrations. We Western Women are also dealing with the state the world is in though it seems as if we are dealing with it on other levels. Ahd, however, is handling both middle eastern and western issues on her own.

What strikes me when I ask Arab women in positions of authority what inspired them is that they often attribute their will to excel and to be independent to their mothers. In the U.S., when women are asked the same question, they usually credit their fathers for telling them they can achieve whatever they want.

During the Ayjal Youth Film Festival in Doha, headed by Fatma Al Remaihi, I met Ahd who was heading up the jury for the Made in Qatar selection of shorts. She is a Saudi Arabian actor, writer, director whose second short film in which she also acted, “Sanctity”/ “La sainteté”, financed by France’s Cnc, won the 2012 Doha Tribeca Development Award, received a Golden Bear nomination at the Berlinale in 2013 and won the Golden Aleph in the Beirut International Film Festival in 2013.

Ahd also played an important role in the prize-winning film about a girl and her bike in the Match Factory and Sony Pictures Classics release “ Wadjda”, the first feature ever shot totally in Saudia Arabia. It was a critical darling, BAFTA nominee and Saudia Arabia’s first official submission for Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film last year. And it was the first feature-length film written and directed a female Saudi director, a film which touched the hearts of the world.

The fluent and articulate English-speaking, American-educated, multi-lingual Saudi Arabian native launched her film career in 2005 with a string of internationally successful short films; all three have won prestigious festival awards. She was presented with a Cloeween Connection Award from Spike Lee, by the Abu Dhabi Authority of Culture and Heritage as an emerging Arab filmmaker. She is also a certified 300 hour Jivamukti yoga teacher.

I’m impressed with what I see here in Doha: Al Jazeera, Doha Film Institute and Ajyal Youth Film Festival seem quite progressive.

Ahd: This festival is about the kids. They are planting the seeds for the future. Just to see them and hear the questions they ask opens your heart and gives you hope for the region.

In the Made in Qatar section, there is a variety of films, all by Qataris and Qatar residents. They are culled from an open competition. Some contestants are film students, some are involved with Dfi. Doc filmmakers had a workshop last year. You can spot future filmmakers. There is a prize of Us$5,000 for best documentary and a prize for best narrative and a jury prize. The deliberations were tough. The film must grab attention and the story must be well told.

What about cinema here?

Ahd: It is still very difficult to make movies in the region.

Shorts are the beginning here for filmmakers. For cinema to grow in the Arab states, the Arabs must rely on each other. There is money in the Gulf but it takes lots of passion, craft and discipline to finance films.

Do you think there will be major changes in this region?

Ahd: Yes, change is inevitable. My existence is proof that change in happening and I’m not the only one. We want to tell our stories, our full stories. Yes women are oppressed but that’s not the full picture. Women in the region are not victims; they are strong and capable.

Our mothers and grandmothers are our role models. My short “Sanctity” highlights female strength which is endurance. Women need to learn to work professionally and this must start at a very young age.

What are you working on now?

Ahd: Now I am financing my feature script, “My Driver and I”.

There is no government support in my home country of Saudi Arabia so I am looking at the available funds and at patrons of art in the larger Mena region. (Editor note: Mena is the Middle East and North African region, about 355 million people – almost 6% of the world population-- with the vast majority of people living in 22 middle-income countries.)

“My Driver and I” is a heartfelt coming of age story set in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia about the paternal relationship between a girl, Salma, and her family chauffeur, Gamar. My parents passed when I was a teenager. My father when I was 14 and my mother when I was 19. My driver played a huge part in my upbringing and ten years ago he died suddenly of an aneurysm. Up to that moment, I never reflected on the impact he had on my life: in a way, I realized I took him for granted. Growing up in a privileged Saudi home, I was lucky to have my own driver whom I had a particularly close relationship with - he was there when I was born and accompanied me through my childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. He drove me everywhere and was privy to all my movements. Through the years, he had truly become my best friend. “My Driver and I” is inspired by the almost mystical and unusually intimate relationship I had with my driver. The film is ultimately a homage to him. He drove me in a car but ultimately he enabled me to take the wheel of my own life’s journey.

What motivates you to make a feature film?

Ahd: Love and fear are my two motivators. Writing was born out of my frustration about the lack of roles. To create my own opportunities, I had to have a good script. That takes lots of discipline.

How did you become who you are today?

Ahd: I have no idea.

I spoke English before I spoke Arabic because my nanny was from the Philippines. My father died when I was quite young and my mom relied on him in entirely. She did not want me to find myself in her position so she encouraged me to be financially independent. She believed in education and empowered me.

I graduated high school in Saudi Arabia and at 17 I moved to New York alone to attend Columbia University, planning to continue to Law School. I quickly realized I didn’t really want to do law. Looking back, I think I fell in love with court room dramas and performance, not law.

I dropped out of Columbia after one term and transferred to Parsons School of Design to study animation. By my senior year again I realized I didn’t want to do animation so for my senior thesis instead of making a five minute character animation film, I made a documentary with animation intervals and that was my first encounter with the camera. After graduation, to extend my time in the U.S., I applied to film school. While in film school, I fell in love with cinema and realized that’s what I wanted to do. The tradition of telling stories orally was there; my grandmother told stories so film felt like a perfect fit.

In school I acted for others and did a short with a Turkish director at Nyu. I won awards and caught the acting bug so after I completed my diploma in film I went to the Esper Studio and did a two-year program in acting to pursue it further.

My short “Sanctity” played in Berlin and Doha and 22 festivals worldwide. Making films for me is a spiritual process.

You still have your connection of your roots?

Ahd: Four years ago I moved back to Saudi Arabia to do "Sanctity" then "Wadjda". The region was moving with revolutions; an underground art scene was emerging.

I made my peace with Saudi Arabia and now I want to make my movie there and leave it. Like a tree, roots are in one place, the trunk is in another and who knows where the branches will be.

Children today are bolder than we were. Girls challenge more. I was born in 1980. The Gulf War was in 1990 and foreign influences came in with the American Army, CNN, satellite TV, American and British programming. I watched “90210” when I was 11 or 12 years old.

You can watch Ahd's first film by clicking this link. Unfortunately, her second film, "Sanctity" is password protected and so you must contact her.
See full article at SydneysBuzz »

And the Winners Are...Third Ajyal Youth Film Festival in Doha Announces

Doha, Qatar is taking the lead in bringing children’s films to the public with 80 features and shorts from 20 countries among which Russia, U.S., Spain, Germany, Lebanon, France and Brazil took prizes. The winners of Ajyal, chosen by children’s juries were honored at a colorful closing ceremony.

In Competition this year were some fine examples of children’s films, an area not widely discussed in our “sophisticated” international film business world, and yet an area you would suppose most cineastes would find extremely important for their own children’s growth. This contradiction --between the lack of conversation about children’s films in the international film business and the importance of youth’s audience share and the personal, ultimate importance in our future civilization -- was apparent to me as I discovered a world previously unexplored by me myself and not widely covered in trade press.

For full details on all films, read here.

And the winners were:

Paper Planes” (Australia; 2014) directed by Robert Connolly, Australian Film Academy Winner for Best Film and Best Original Screenplay is an endearing Australian movie about an 11 year old boy who must come up with funds to enter a world paper plane championship competition. Winner in the Mohaq (New Moon) section of jurors aged 8 to 12 who watched four feature-length films and one program of short films.

“Scarecrow” (The Philippines, 2015), so new that it Is not even listed in IMDb, directed by multi award winning Zig Madamba Dulay is a deeply moving Tagalog film on the life of a widowed, illiterate woman in a rural Philippine province. Judged Winner of Best Film in the Hilal (Half Moon) section of jurors aged 13 to 17 who evaluated five feature films and a program of shorts.

“Walls” (Spain; 2015) is a creatively constructed Spanish doc that takes a compelling look on lives on either side of the world’s border walls.

When the Berlin Wall fell the end of History was proclaimed, we shelved the idea of separation walls as part of the past. Reality is exactly the opposite. Never in the history of humanity have we built so many walls. There have never been so many fences, barbed wire, ditches and walls. There are miles of kilometres, in the most far off and different parts of the world.

This film narrates real stories of people who live on both sides of very different walls. The one that divides South Africa and Zimbabwe, the separation wall between the United States and Mexico, the fence that in Melilla is used as a border between Spain and Morocco.

Watch the trailer Here.

Basque directors Pablo Iraburu and Migueltxo Molina have travelled the world making and showing their documentaries for 20 years. This non-judgemental, simple statement about walls and exclusion humanizes those seeking to breach walls whose stories we read or ignore everyday. “That wall is my obstacle. My kids are on the other side,” says Caren Hernández who treks miles along the wall to find an opening in order to leave Mexico. ”Wars and walls are the same thing,” says Meza Weza from Zimbabwe seeking to cross into South Africa. ”We would have to build a new big and tall wall. And I would electrify it” says the border guard Izak Nel in South Africa. ”We try to keep them out. We can’t let them in, it’s the law,” Jaime Mimún of Spain. A review has been published recently at the Latin version of The Washington Post entitled “Which Side of the Wall Are You On?

That jurors aged 18 to 21 judged this the Best Film in the Bader section of the five feature films and two programs of short films they saw proves its power in creating compassion. We hope we will see this film nominated for the upcoming Goyas in Spain and that it instills compassion in all who see it…and that many get the chance to see it. http://www.wallsmuros.com/ and http://www.facebook.com/wallsmuros

In the Made in Qatar section, the observational documentary “ The Palm Tree”, charting the life story of a palm tree, and the short fiction work “Asfoora” won the top awards.

In the Bariq section where parents with their children below the age of eight judged films, the Parent’s Choice Award went to the six minute short “The Law of the Jungle” by Pascale Hecquet (Belgium). Vimeo

Fatma Al Remaihi, Festival Director and CEO of the Doha Film Institute, said: “I would like to commend our Ajyal Jurors for the dedication and enthusiasm they have brought to the task of determining the competition winners this year – their enthusiasm and insight is an inspiration to us all. I congratulate all of our 2015 winners and sincerely thank all of the filmmakers who have joined us in Doha this week for sharing their stories and creative talents. Their presence has brought a depth and richness to the experience of our audiences and jurors that will live on in their hearts and minds long into the future.”

The 2015 Ajyal Youth Film Festival Competition Winners are:

Mohaq

Best Feature Film

Paper Planes” by Robert Connolly (Australia)

Special Mention

"Celestial Camel (Nebesnyy verblyud) by Yury Feting (Russia)

Best Short Film

"The Red Thunder" by Alvaro Ron (Spain, USA)

Hilal

Best Feature Film

"Scarecrow" (Bambanti) by Zig Madamba Dulay (The Philippines)

Special Mention

"Landfill Harmonic" by Graham Townsley and Brad Allgood (USA)

Best Short Film

"wHole" by Robert Banning and Verena Klinger (Germany)

Special Mention

"That Day in September" by Karim Jaafar (Lebanon)

Bader

Best Feature Film

"Walls (Muros)" by Pablo Iraburu and Migueltxo Molina (Spain)

Special Mention

"The Second Mother" (Que Horas Ela Volta?) by Anna Muylaert (Brazil)

Best Short Film

"By Mutual Agreement" by Rémy Cayuela (France)

Bariq

Parent’s Choice Award

“The Law of the Jungle” by Pascale Hecquet (Belgium)

The competition line-up at Ajyal 2015 comprised feature films from 20 countries and a series of short film programs. More than 500 young people watched and analyzed the dynamic program of films under the three competitive sections.

The Jury included a delegation of 24 international jurors who travelled to Doha for the event from 12 countries including Australia, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Serbia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Made in Qatar

‘Made in Qatar’ included 17 films by Qatari filmmakers and those who call Qatar home. The films highlight the support of the Doha Film Institute in honing their skills.

Presented with the support of Tarsheed, the Made in Qatar films are evaluated by a jury comprising: Ahd, an actor (“Wadjda”) and filmmaker from Saudi Arabia; Marcel Ghanem, a multi-award winning current affairs journalist from Lebanon; and Bassam Al Ibrahim, a Qatari producer of several award-winning films.

The winners were:

Documentary Category

Best Documentary Film: “ The Palm Tree” by Jassim Al-Rumaihi Jury Award: “ Heart of the House” by Gabrielle Sol Special Mention: “The Notebook” by Amna Al-Binali Narrative Category

Best Narrative Film: “ Asfoora” by Mayar Hamdan Jury Award: “ Man of the House” by Khalifa AlMarri The directors who are showcasing their films in the Made in Qatar program underline the success of the Institute’s founding mission – to supporting the next generation in filmmaking talent.

Sana Al-Ansari, the young director of “If Only They Knew” (Qatar, 2014), for example, was a young juror of the festival for two consecutive years. Turning director, therefore, was a logical progression that was supported by the Doha Film Institute.

Inspired by the movies she had watched as a juror, she wanted to make a film that would resonate with the Qatari community. The result was “If Only They Knew” that addresses the issue of reckless driving. “Ask anyone, and they would all know of somebody who has been the victim of reckless driving. My own film was sparked by a similar incident in which a young man lost his life,” says Sana.

She says the team at the Doha Film Institute supported her in fine-tuning the script as well as in editing the footage she shot over two-and-a-half days. A Communications student at Northwestern University, she hopes that her film, which has already won the award for Best National Picture at Northwestern’s Thimun Film Festival and screened at Rota’s Empower Conference, will strengthen awareness on a social issue and lead to positive change.

Jassim Al Rumaihi is another talent supported by the Doha Film Institute. He had screened his first short, co-directed when he was still a student, at the festival five years ago. It went on to win an award in the ‘Made in Qatar’ segment.

Now, working as a reporter at Al Jazeera News channel, he says that in making his second short, “The Palm Tree”, produced by the Doha Film Institute, he approached it with greater professionalism with “no room for mistakes that I could make when I was a student.”

With support from the Institute, including cinematography by Thomas Hines, he has ventured into making what he describes as a “poetic/observational documentary.” Without dialogues or other sound props, his film charts the life-cycle of a palm tree. Jassim depicts the story of the palm tree from various angles – right from its seedling stage to how the dates are marketed.

“The palm tree is very majestic; it is part of our heritage. It features in the logo of many Arab nations and yet you see its value diminishing in popular perception and is not so celebrated,” says Jassim. He shot the film over five days, and thanks the Doha Film Institute for the support he has received along the journey.

He has now secured funding for a documentary on Arabian horses. “I do not go into a generic documentary; it is about one specific horse,” much like how he has narrowed down the subject of the ubiquitous palm trees into one 14 minute short.

Jassim says that since he made his first short five years ago, the filmmaking scene in Qatar has changed. “Now there is better technology, better experience and international skills in filmmaking. I think the efforts of the Doha Film Institute have paid off well.”

Amina Ahmed Al Bloshi, director of “To My Mother” highlights a story that she hopes will resonate with every woman in the Arab world. The film, made with the support of the Doha Film Institute, is about the value of education, underlined by the true story of Amina’s mother, who decided to start her education at the age of 40.

“She cried when she watched the film,” says Amina, “and told me that she had several photographs of hers as a child but never felt its value until she saw herself on screen and how people reacted to it.” For Amina, therefore the movie is a visual tribute that she passes on to the next generation. But more importantly, it is about telling all women anywhere in the world who were denied the opportunity to study for whatever reason that “it is never too late to learn.”

Amina says that unlike old days, there is ample opportunity to pursue education today in Qatar. “The doors are open and there is so much support from the government. Regardless of your nationality or age, if you have missed the chance to learn, do it now –not for a job but for the value it brings to your life.”

Writer-producer Ali Ali’s film Charlie further illustrates how film can make positive change. His eponymous protagonist is imaginative and precocious but was struggling in school and falling behind his peers. He was eventually diagnosed with dyslexia. His family, after watching the Bollywood movie “Tare Zameen Par”, almost followed the film’s message to the core to make a positive impact on Charlie. Ali’s documentary shows how Charlie and his family cope with the challenge. Ali says it is a “happy film,” and although he does not want to convey any direct message, he believes it will make audiences think.

And if you need further evidence on how film not only helps one to find one’s inner voice, here is “Light Sounds”, written and directed by Karem Kamal. Inspired by the lives of two janitors at a mosque in Qatar, he wrote a powerful script that talks about how every face might hide an unrecognised talent. Producer Rasha Mkachar, who found the story endearing, says when they did a casting call to make the film, no one turned up. They couldn’t use the real protagonists for technical reasons. And that is how two staff at the Doha Film Institute, Roshan Sanjeewa and Sampath Dasanyaka, turned actors, thus proving in real life and reel life that there is more to people in everyday life than meets the eye.

Seventeen films are being screened in the ‘Made in Qatar’ programme featuring home-grown series of films highlighting the talent of Qatari filmmakers and those who call Qatar home.
See full article at SydneysBuzz »

2015 Ajyal Youth Film Festival Brings Inspiring Films to Qatar

The third annual Ajyal Youth Film Festival presented by the Doha Film Institute (November 29 to December 5) showcases feature films from 20 countries and a series of short film programs in Katara, Qatar.

Fatma Al Remaihi, Festival Director and CEO of the Doha Film Institute, says: “By providing young people with access to international cinema, filmmakers from around the world, and the space to discuss their ideas and develop critical thinking, Ajyal empowers the youngest members of our community and develops their understanding of the world around them.”

Academy Award nominated director, Hany Abu-Assad and Arab Idol champion Mohammed Assaf, whose life story "The Idol" is based on, will attend the Opening Night and will participate in a special ‘In Conversation’ session about bringing Assaf’s life story to the big screen and highlight the power of combining music and cinema and the challenges facing Arab artists today.

Read more about "The Idol" and an interview with Hany Abu-Assad at its debut at Tiff 2015.

Aside from the daily public screenings of local and international films other events are the popular "Made in Qatar"; Sony Cinema Under the Stars; Family Weekend; the Doha Giffoni Youth Media Summit ; special events and exhibitions; the Sandbox interactive digital playground; school screenings; and the Ajyal Competition, where hundreds of young jurors between the ages of 8 and 21 will watch and discuss shorts and features and decide on the winning films. competition line-up.

The popular "Made in Qatar" section features 17 films -- nine narrative shorts and eight documentaries by local talent.

More than 500 young people from the ages of 8 to 21 make up the Ajyal Competition Jury which will watch and analyze a dynamic program of films in three competitive sections followed by discussions and events including panels, workshops and Q&A sessions with filmmakers.

Each of the three Ajyal Juries are made of 24 international jurors from 12 countries including Australia, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Serbia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. The jury awards a Best Film prize to their favorite short and feature-length film, for a total of six awards. The directors of the winning films are awarded funding toward their next film, so jurors are empowered to support and promote future content that is relevant and important to them in a proactive way.

Mohaq means ‘New Moon’ in Arabic, and these are Ajyal’s youngest jurors, aged 8 to 12. These jurors will watch one program of short films and four feature-length films, marking the first year that competitive feature films are included in this category. They are: "Celestial Camel" (Russia) by Yury Feting about a young sheepherder living in the desolate Kalmyk Steppe, who sets off on an epic journey after his father is forced to sell the family’s beloved camel calf; "The Greatest House in the World" (Guatemala, Mexico) by Ana V. Bojórquez and Lucía Carreras - a film about the never-ending circle of life told through the story of a young girl in the isolated highlands of Guatemala; "Paper Planes"(Australia) by Robert Connolly - a tale of friendship, creativity and the bonds of family which centers around an 11-year-old boy with an exceptional talent for creating paper airplanes; and "Phantom Boy" by Jean-Loup Felicioli, Alain Gagnol (France, Belgium) an animated film about an 11-year-old boy whose illness allows him to have out-of-body experiences and mysterious powers.

Ajyal’s jurors aged 13 to 17 are the Hilal jury – the term means ‘Crescent Moon’ in Arabic. Five feature films and a program of shorts make up this jury’s film selection. The feature films competing in this section are: "Lamb" (France, Ethiopia, Germany, Norway, Qatar) by Yared Zeleke, a portrait of a young Ethiopian boy trying to find his way in the world; "Landfill Harmonic" (U.S.) directed by Brad Allgood and Graham Townsley and recent audience award winning documentary at Napa Valley Film Festival, that tracks the astounding rise of a Paraguayan youth orchestra whose members live next to one of South America's largest landfills and make their instruments from recycled materials; "Mina Walking" (Canada, Afghanistan), a multiple award winning documentary by Yosef Baraki, a powerful tale of a 12-year-old girl in war-torn Afghanistan struggling to make ends meet for her family; "Scarecrow " (The Philippines) by Zig Madamba Dulay which explores the complicated relationship of social injustice and familial expectations through the story of a young mother in a rural town; and " Wolf Totem" (China, France) by Jean-Jacques Annaud. Set against the backdrop of the Chinese Cultural Revolution 1967, it is the story of a two young Chinese students who are sent on a research assignment with the nomadic herdsmen of Inner Mongolia and become fascinated by the wolves that roam the plains.

The most mature of Ajyal’s juries, Bader (Arabic for ‘Full Moon’) jurors are aged 18 to 21 and will select their favorite films from five features and two programs of short films. The feature films vying for top honors in this section are: "An" (Japan, France, Germany) by Naomi Kawase is a drama about a lonely baker whose life is reinvigorated when he hires an elderly woman with a special culinary skill; "The Second Mother " (Brazil's submission for Oscar nomination) by Anna Muylaert which is an exploration of the bond between mothers and their children told through the story of a housekeeper in Sao Paulo (Read review and interview with director Anna Muylaert here); "Taxi" (Iran), winner of Fipresci and Golden Bear Awards in Berlin 2015, by Jafar Panahi in which the celebrated Iranian director places himself in the driver’s seat of a cab, taking fares to their destinations in a wonderful portrait of contemporary Iran; "Very Big Shot" (Lebanon, Qatar), a bold and insightful dark comedy by Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya that skewers political corruption and the media circus that goes with it; and "Walls" (Spain) - a documentary by Pablo Iraburu and Migueltxo Molina that follows several subjects on both sides of three contemporary international borders, demonstrating that the people on each side of the barriers are not as different as they may believe.

In addition to the three competitive sections, the Festival’s youngest audiences under the age of 8 years will also vote for their favorite film with the help of their parents who will determine the Parents’ Choice Award in the Bariq program. Bariq films are selected to satisfy the excitement and curiosity of young children and are suitable for the whole family. This year’s program features a collection of eight short films and will also include a special outdoor cine-concert on the Katara esplanade by the Festival Tout-Petits Cinéma from Paris, with four films accompanied by live music by pianist Anthony Boulc’h and saxophonist Fanch Minous.

A senior jury of three eminent figures from the local and regional industry will determine the winners of the competitive section comprising feature films from 20 countries and a series of short film program with two awards being presented for Best Short Narrative Film and Best Short Documentary Film. The 2015 jury members are film producer Bassam Al Ibrahim (Qatar), who is the CEO of Innovation Films and co-founder of ILoveQatar.net; film actress, director and producer, Ahd (Saudi Arabia), internationally renowned for her performance in Haifaa al-Mansour’s " Wadjda;" and respected veteran journalist and media personality, Marcel Ghanem (Lebanon).

Fatma Al Remaihi said: “It has been another productive and inspiring year for filmmaking in Qatar and this year’s Made in Qatar selection indicates the rapid growth and diversity that we are witnessing in the Qatari film industry."

The films in the 2015 Ajyal Youth Film Festival Made in Qatar section are:

Made in Qatar Program 1, Wednesday 2nd December

"To My Mother" by Amina Al Bloshi

"Light Sounds" by Karem Kamel

"Her Majlis" by Najla Al Khulaifi, Dana Al Mesnad and Nayla Al Thani

"The Palm Tree" by Jassim Al-Rumaihi

"Yellow Nights" by Abdulla al Mulla

"If They Only Knew" by Sana Al-Ansari

"Heart of the House" by Gabrielle Sol

"The Notebook" by Amna Albinali

Made in Qatar Program 2, Friday 4th December

"Charlie" by Ali Ali

"Immortalizing Memories" by Mostafa Sheshtawy

"Asfoora" by Mayar Hamdan

"Good as New" by Jaser Alagha

"I Choose Islam" by Noor Al-Tamimi, Silma Suba and Zac J. Hollo

"Mariam" by Zainab Ayon

"Time" by Yassine Ouahrani

"Man of the House" by Khalifa AlMarri

"Veganize It!" by Khalid Salim

Closing night will be the world premiere of animated feature film "Bilal" (UAE/2015), a new animated feature film made with funding from the Doha Film Institute and produced by Dubai-based Barajoun Studios. Involving creative talents from 22 countries, "Bilal " by Directors Ayman Jamal and Khurram Alavi is an inspiring adventure story of faith, hope and self-discovery. Inspired by the real-life story of Bilal Bin Rabah, the film's cutting edge animation technology, impeccable research and high production values will resonate with audiences across generations. The cast and crew of the film will be in attendance for the premiere including the directors of the film and cast members Andre Robinson ("Despicable Me 2") and Adewale Akinnuoye Agbaje ("Lost", "The Bourne Identity", "Game of Thrones") who voice the young and adult Bilal respectively.

The Ajyal Family Weekend will feature the regional premiere of Marking the Un International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Ajyal 2015 will present in a regional first, an inclusive cinema experience specially ‘transadapted’ to suit audiences with different abilities, a special screening of Al Rayyan Productions animated short "Hero and the Message" (Qatar/2012). Guests will be able to view the film through sound alone, with special subtitles for people who have difficulty understanding speech. This inclusive version of the film has been developed with the support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and is the result of a collaboration between the Doha Film Institute and the Translation and Interpreting Institute at Hamad Bin Khalifa University who are spearheading the development of transadapted content in the Gulf region.

Fatma Al Remaihi, “Since our first edition, animated films have formed a core part of the Ajyal program and I am delighted that this year, we will premiere three incredibly diverse examples of the artform... from three corners of the globe.”

"Bilal" (UAE/2015) In a dreamlike vision, mysterious dark riders mounted on demonic black horses bear down upon a village. Nearby, little Bilal dreams of being a great warrior as he gallops along on his hobbyhorse. The riders come closer – are they real? Or are they just a figment of the youngster’s extraordinary imagination? Suddenly, Bilal’s dream becomes a nightmare. The men on horseback kill his mother and take him captive along with Ghufaira, his sister, and they are soon sold as slaves to Umayya, the wealthiest merchant in all of Arabia. Bilal never forgets this terrible day, which haunts his sleep for years to come. But the echoes of his mother’s gentle voice stay with him, a constant reminder that to break free of the chains that enslave him, he must forge his own destiny.

"The Good Dinosaur" (USA/2015), the latest feature from the award-winning Pixar Animation Studios and the team behind beloved Pixar classics "Finding Nemo" and "Inside Out" and will feature a special ‘kids red carpet’ for all families and young people from the community to participate and to be transported to a world where dinosaurs walk the Earth. Directed by Peter Sohn, the film screens on December 4th and presents an alternate history where the asteroids that wiped out these ancient reptiles never hit our planet.

"Hero and the Message" (Qatar/2012) tells the fantastic tale of a Qatari brother and sister who travel back in time to witness the founding events of the State of Qatar. Produced by Al Rayyan Productions, the top-notch animated short directed by Pawel Borowski was created to celebrate Qatar’s National Day in 2012, and screens on December 3rd.

"When Marnie Was There" (Japan/2014), screening on December 4 is one of the final anime sensations from Ghibli Studios and is based on the novel When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson. Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, the film is about a young girl Anna who explores a long- abandoned villa and meets a mysterious blonde girl only she can see.
See full article at SydneysBuzz »

Lff 2015: ‘Rattle the Cage’ is a tightly wound thriller that almost falls apart in its final moments

Rattle the Cage

Written by: Majid Alansari, Nidal Morra and Rami Yasin

Directed by: Majid Al Ansari

United Arab Emirates, 2015

One often wonders what they would be capable of if their life depended on it. Would you take charge, delegate responsibility but do your part, or would you completely break down and cower in the corner? Would you be able to think clearly enough to find a solution to the problem or would your emotions be too overpowering? These are questions that ran through the mind when watching the superbly paced and tense thriller Rattle the Cage. Set entirely in the jail of a local sheriff’s station, the film capitalises on the claustrophobic location to ratchet up the tension almost to a boiling point. There is almost something scientific about the way every character’s action has an equal and opposite reaction as director and co-writer Majid Al Ansari
See full article at SoundOnSight »

Paul Miller launches firm in Netherlands

Paul Miller launches firm in Netherlands
Upcoming productions include Ahd Kamel’ s My Driver and I.

Former Doha Film Institute (Dfi) director of film financing Paul Miller is setting up shop in the Netherlands.

The veteran producer, who has moved to the country for family reasons, has recently launched consultancy firm Internal Affairs with Us-based producer Dan Lindau and is working on several feature projects under his Escape Pictures company banner.

Internal Affairs is a consultancy advising clients on everything from best practices to film financing to production in the filmed entertainment as well as commercials,” said Miller, who is attending the International Film Festival Rotterdam (Jan 21-Feb 1) as a speaker on one of the industry panels as well as at the producer-focused Rotterdam Lab.

“We’re already working with a company in Qatar and are probably going to start working with some companies in the Netherlands,” added Miller, who retains good contacts in the Middle East after his Dfi stint.

“I’m going
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Top 100 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2015: (Picks 200-101)

They didn’t make our final Top 100 cut, but here is a list of foreign film titles that are on our radar for 2015. We being with…

200. Remember – Dir. Atom Egoyan

199. Suffragette – Dir. Sarah Gavron

198. Kills on Wheels – Dir. Attila Till

197. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend – Dir. Yuen Woo-ping

196. The Go-Between – Dir. Pete Travis

195. Peur de Rien Dir. Danielle Arbid

194. Regular Boy – Dir. Michele Civetta

193. Flaskepost – Dir. Nikolaj Arcel

192. The Lady in the Van – Dir. Nicolas Hytner

191. Zoom – Dir. Pedro Morelli

190. Away from the Sea – Dir. Imanol Uribe

189. Tulip Fever – Dir. Justin Chadwick

188. Ulrike’s Brain – Dir. Bruce La Bruce

187. Tsunami – Dir. Jacques Deschamps

186. And Your Sister? – Dir. Marion Vernoux

185. There Was Las Vegas – Dir. Alexandre Castas

184. Prejudice – Dir. Antoine Cuypers

183. Stepne – Dir. Maryna Vroda

182. Irreplaceable – Dir. Olivier Masset-Depasse

181. Histoire de Judas Iscariot – Dir. Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche

180. The First, the Last – Dir. Bouli Lanners

179. Selection Officielle – Dir. Jacques Richard

178. Desierto – Dir.
See full article at IONCINEMA.com »

Boushahri wins Iwc Filmmaker Award

  • ScreenDaily
Boushahri wins Iwc Filmmaker Award
Kuwaiti filmmaker Abdullah Boushahri won the $100,000 Iwc Filmmaker Award for his feature project The Water at the Dubai International Film Festival (Diff) on Thursday night.

Boushahri received with award from actress Emily Blunt, who sat on the jury along with Iwc Schaffhausen CEO Georges Kern, Diff chairman Abdulhamid Juma, Diff artistic director Masoud Amralla Al Ali, director Marc Forster, Iwc Schaffhausen brand director Karoline Huber and Screen International’s Mark Adams.

Set during a drought in the city of Kuwait in the early 20th century, The Water revolves around a young man with a melodious voice, who is in love with a beautiful girl from a lower-caste family. The two lovers face a multitude of social obstacles as the city’s residents turn to desperate measures to obtain water.

Boushahri previously produced the feature-length film Losing Ahmad, which made its world premiere at Diff in 2006 and won best documentary in the Gulf at the Emirates Film Competition
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Baboudjian signs Ahd to direct Sandfish

Baboudjian signs Ahd to direct Sandfish
Exclusive: Feature is an adaptation of Emirati bestseller about girl growing up in the region in the 1960s.

Lebanese, UAE-based producer Paul Baboudjian has signed Saudi actress and filmmaker Ahd Kamel to direct an adaptation of Emirati writer Maha Gargash’s bestseller The Sand Fish.

The adaptation, to be entitled Sandfish, will be the first project for Baboudjian’s new Dubai-based production house Tharwa Productions which is poised to open for business before end of the year.

The coming-of-age tale, set in the UAE in the 1960s, revolves around a beautiful young orphan who is married off to an elderly childless, pearl merchant as his third wife.

It follows her journey from child to mother and discovery of love, lust, hate, sorority, betrayal, manipulation, respect, maternity and growth along the way.

“When I came across Maha Gargash’s best-seller The Sand Fish, I was completely besotted by the story, the characters, the delicacy
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Review: Wadjda

I'm guessing many women reading this review can remember learning to ride a bicycle -- getting the training wheels off, or refusing to have them in the first place, perhaps having someone hold the back of the seat and run behind you ... and that glorious moment when you achieve solo cycling.

In the movie Wadjda, the title character is a girl who wants to own and ride a bike in a society where such an activity is considered inappropriate for females. An event most of us take for granted becomes subversive, and the simple story of the film takes on many layers. It's remarkably fascinating, primarily due to its contemporary Saudi Arabia setting.

The basic premise of the story -- Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) wants the bicycle for sale at the nearby toy store, and will do anything she can to earn the money for it -- is enhanced by the
See full article at Slackerwood »

Wadjda

Wadjda

Directed by: Haifaa Al-Mansour

Cast: Waad Mohammed, Reem Abdullah, Ahd

Running Time: 1 hr 38 mins

Rating: PG

Release Date: September 20, 2013 (Chicago)

Plot: A ten-year-old from Saudi Arabia named Wadjda (Mohammed) enters a Koran-reciting contest so that she can use the prize money to buy a bike.

Who’S It For? Those who like to witness revolutions.

Overall

Wadjda is a film from a country that doesn’t have movie theaters. It is about archaic rules for women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a country that fears gender mixing at public film screenings. Saudi Arabia has a slowly growing film scene, but such homemade products, such as first-Saudi-made movie titled in 2006 Keif al-Hal? (translated to “How are you?”) can only be viewed in private living spaces. Showtime Arabia hooked people up with Keif al-Hal, and TV is a handy way to get censored media. Even video stores exist, but scenes
See full article at Scorecard Review »
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