Arab Cinema Center Presents the Achievement Award for Film Critics to Ziad Khuzai and Jay Weissberg

Arab Cinema Center Presents the Achievement Award for Film Critics to Ziad Khuzai and Jay Weissberg
20 May 2022:

Arab Cinema Center (ACC) has announced that the recipients of its Achievement Award for Film Critics this year are Iraqi Film Critic Ziad Khuzai and American Film Critic Jay Weissberg,  for their inspiring critiques about Arab cinema. The recipients will receive their awards within the activities of the 75th Cannes Film Festival. 

In the latest edition of Arab Cinema Magazine, Arab Cinema Center dedicates a section that sheds light on the inspiring career of both film critics. The magazine will be released at the upcoming edition of Cannes Film Festival. 

" I thank Arab Cinema Center for giving me this award, which i totally didn’t expect. I believe that film criticism, regardless of its quality, can't compete with cinema itself. However, it is part of cinema and it is characterized by its own individuality and well-built arguments. Writing about a film, for me, is a personal game that reflects the morals of the critic, in the first place; If he is principled, his writings shall be distinguished and beneficial, and vice versa, which is common today, where social media is destroying our critical conscience, turning it into purposeless polemics.” commented Iraqi film critic Ziad Khuzai after the announcement of the award. 

“The film critic’s role, which is elitist whether we like it or not, is to present in his writing what the average viewer missed in the film. This requires that his writing should be aligned with the rhetoric, rhythm, joints, terminology, language derivation, and metaphors of the film.”  he added. 

“It was a filmmaker from the MENA region who reminded me of one of the most important aspects of being a critic, something I always repeat in workshops with young colleagues: we're in this industry together, not as antagonists but as colleagues. And I'm humbled beyond words to be embraced by so many colleagues I admire as artists and love as friends,” stated American film critic Jay Weissberg. 

"We try as much as we can at Arab Cinema Center to shed light on critics and their efforts in developing arab cinema through deep analysis. This year, we honor Ziad Khuzai and Jay Weissberg for their inspiring carers in film criticism and for highlighting Arab films inside and outside the Arab world.” commented Alaa Karkouti and Maher Diab, co-founders of ACC. 

Ziad Khuzai is an Iraqi writer and film critic, based in London (UK). After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad in 1977, Ziad embarked on a career in the Arab film industry. He wrote for several publications including Assafir (Lebanon), Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Al-Hayat, Al Sharq Awsat and Al Araby al Jadeed, to name a few. Ziad co-founded and organized the first Arab Film Festival in London in 1988. He served as a jury member at various international film festivals, including Dubai International Film Festival and Arab Fund for Culture and Arts (AFAC) in Lebanon. He contributed to the list of the 100 most important Arab films, which was published by Dubai International Film Festival. 

Jay Weissberg is a New York-born film critic who lives in Rome. He has been reviewing films for the Entertainment industry trade paper, Variety, for 18 years and now writes for The Film Verdict, which publishes film reviews.  A frequent participant of festival juries, he has traveled throughout Europe, the Arab world and Latin America to cover film events. In 2015, he was appointed Artistic Director of the Pordenone Silent Film Festival, widely considered the premiere event of its type in the world. He was the co-curator for the Capellani programme at Bologna’s Cinema Ritrovato, and is one of the organizers of the Ottoman Film Project. He has been a guest of the Harvard Film Archives/Gulbenkian Foundation’s Cinema Dialogues, as well as acted as mentor in initiatives for young film critics. Weissberg has wide knowledge in the Arab film industry. Besides his critiques about Arab films, he hosted Egyptian producer Marianne Khoury and Tunisian producer Dora Bouchoucha. 

By presenting the Achievement Award for Film Critics, the Arab Cinema Center (ACC) seeks to highlight the profession of film criticism by honoring one of the Arab or foreign film critics annually at Cannes Film Festival. Over the past years, the ACC presented this award to Film Critic and Media Figure Youssef Cherif Rizkallah, Lebanese Film Critic Ibrahim Al Ariss, American Film Critic Deborah Young and American Film Critic Sydney Levine. 

Organized by MAD Solutions in 2015, the Arab Cinema Center (ACC) is a nonprofit organization registered in Amsterdam. The ACC is an international promotional platform for Arab cinema as it provides the filmmaking industry with a professional window to connect with their counterparts from all over the world through a number of events that it organizes. The ACC also provides networking opportunities with representatives of companies and institutions specialized in co-production and international distribution, among others. The ACC's activities vary between film markets, stands, and pavilions, networking sessions and one-on-one meetings bringing together Arab and foreign filmmakers, welcome parties, as well as meetings with international organizations and festivals, and the issuance of the Arab Cinema Magazine to be distributed at the leading international film festivals and markets.

Furthermore, newsletter subscription is now available on the ACC's website, allowing users to obtain digital copies of the Arab Cinema Magazine, as well as news on the ACC's activities, notifications of application dates for grants, festivals and offers from educational and training institutions, updates on Arab films participating at festivals, exclusive news on the Arab Cinema LAB, and highlights from the ACC's partners and their future projects.

The ACC also launched an English-language Arab Cinema Guide, available on its website, which is a comprehensive cinematic guide that comprises a variety of tools presented collectively for the first time to offer information on Arab cinema to filmmakers inside and outside of the Arab world. It also aims to facilitate filmmakers' access to international markets and help film industry representatives to easily identify Arab film productions.