On the margins of the 71st Cannes Film Festival, the Arab Cinema Center (ACC) announced the winners of its 2nd Annual Critics Awards, who were selected by 62 film critics from 28 countries around the world through voting, at a special ceremony. The critics viewed Arab feature and documentary films produced during 2017 on the digital platform of Festival Scope, a partner of the Arab Cinema Center.
Winners of the 2nd Annual Critics Awards:
Best Actor: Mohamed Bakri | Wajib | Palestine (Accepted by Producer Ossama Bawardi)
Best Actress: Mariam Al Ferjani| Beauty and the Dogs |Tunisia (Accepted by Mariam Al Ferjani)
Best Screenplay: Wajib | Annemarie Jacir | Palestine (Accepted by Annemarie Jacir)
Best Director: Ziad Doueiri | The Insult | Lebanon (Accepted by Distributor Hiam Saleeby)
Best Documentary: Taste of Cement | Ziad Kalthoum | Lebanon, Syria (Accepted by Distributor Aleksandar Govedarica)
Best Film: Wajib | Annemarie Jacir | Palestine (Accepted by Producer Ossama Bawardi)
Besides, Film Critic and Media Figure Youssef Cherif Rizkallah received the Achievement Award for Film Critics whereby 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 the Cannes Film Festival.
The awards ceremony witnessed the attendance of a big number of the Annual Critics Awards jury membersincluding Ibrahim Alariss, Ahmed Shawky, Olivier Barlet, Pamela Biénzobas, Jay Weissberg,
Husam Asi, Hassouna Mansouri, Khaled Mahmoud, Dragan Rubesa, Deborah Young, Ziad Khuzai,
Sydney J. Levine, Tarek El Shinnawi, Abdul Sattar Naji, Erfan Rashid, Gautaman Bhaskaran, Massimo Lechi, Mohammed Boughalleb, Mohammed Rouda, Houda Ibrahim and Youssef Cherif Rizkallah.
The sponsors of the awards ceremony who attended are Producer Mohamed Hefzy (Film Clinic) and Producer Daniel Ziskind Film Clinic's European representative, whose film Yomeddine is competing in the festival's official competition; Antoine Khalife, Special Advisor to the Arab Radio & Television (ART) network and former director of the Arab Programme at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF); Mouhamad Keblawi, Founder and Festival Director of the Malmö Arab Film Festival; Zaid F. Jawad, CEO of Iraqi Cinema; along with MAD Solutions' team: Alaa Karkouti, CEO of MAD Solutions and Co-founder of the Arab Cinema Center (ACC), Maher Diab, Creative Director and Co-founder of the Arab Cinema Center (ACC) and MAD Solutions, Colin Brown, Managing Partner and Director of International Operations at MAD Solutions, Abdallah Al Shami, Managing Partner and GCC Representative at MAD Solutions, Kareem Samy, Manager of the Arab Cinema Center (ACC), Meriame Deghedi, Distribution and Sales Manager at MAD Solutions, and Aliaa Zaky, Project Manager at MAD Solutions.
Some of the ACC's partners also attended the ceremony including representatives of the Royal Film Commission - Jordan (RFC), Rotana, Iraqi Independent Film Center (IIFC), Art City For Cinema and TV Production, Cinema 70, Bastille Tayran Film, LatinArab Co-Production Forum, Festival Ciné Palestine, Tripoli Film Festival, 3 Minutes 3 Days Film Festival, in addition to The Hollywood Reporter and Festival Scope.
The ceremony was also attended by a number of Arab and foreign filmmakers attending this year's festival, including star Laila Eloui; producers and distributors Marianne Khoury and Gaby Khoury; Egypt's adventurer Omar Samra, who stars in the documentary Beyond the Raging Sea that screens at the festival; representatives of international film festivals: Berlin, Rotterdam, Karlovy Vary, Locarno, and El Gouna Film Festival, represented by each of its Director Intishal Al Timimi, its COO and Co-founder Bushra,its CEO and Co-founder Amr Mansi, its Artistic Director Amir Ramses and its CFO and Co-founder Kamal Zadeh; along with many representatives of Arab and international media outlets, including, Boosy Shalaby, Bassem Youssef, crew of The Insider American TV show, representatives of Al Sharqiya Iraqi TV Channel and others; Randa Abulhassan, Director of the United Nations Development Program in Cairo; and Ragnhild Ek, Senior External Relations Officer of the UNHCR Egypt.
Film Analyst Alaa Karkouti, Co-founder of the Arab Cinema Center (ACC) and CEO of MAD Solutions, commented on this, saying, "It's a great accomplishment that four of the Annual Critics Awards went to two films made by female directors; Wajib by Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir and Beauty and the Dogs byTunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania. This female presence is a strong indicator of the diversity that the Arab film industry is witnessing."
Maher Diab, Creative Director and Co-founder of the Arab Cinema Center (ACC) and MAD Solutions, says, "At the same time of presenting three of the Annual Critics Awards to Wajib by director Annemarie Jacir, Jacir is serving as a jury member of the Un Certain Regard section at the 71st Cannes Film Festival. This proves that Arab filmmakers are leading the Arab film industry toward a promising future."
Film Critic Ahmed Shawky,Manager of the Critics Awards, says, "I'm pleased with the results of the 2nd Annual Critics Awards, and before that, with the diversity of the nominations that reflects the positive direction taken by the Arab film industry over the past few years. The Annual Critics Awards will keep on adding more brilliant names in the world of film criticism from all over the world in order to support Arab cinema and make sure that it reaches out to leading film critics in the world."
The 1st Annual Critics Awards was held within the 70th Cannes Film Festival. The awards are given to the best Arab film productions every year in the following categories: Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress and Best Actor, in addition to the new category, the Best Documentary Film. For the first time in the history of Arab cinema, the jury committee brought together 62 of the most prominent Arab and international critics from 28 countries from all over the world.
The final list of nominees for the Annual Critics Awards were selected according to the following criteria: the films must have been premiered at international film festivals outside of the Arab world during 2017, and at least one of the production companies must be Arab (regardless of the size of its contribution in the production of the film), in addition to that the films must be feature-length films (fiction or documentary).
List of critics appointed for nominating and selecting the winners of the Annual Critics' Awards (in alphabetical order):
Abdelkarim Ouakrim | Morocco, Abdelkarim Kadri | Algeria, Abdul Sattar Naji | Kuwait, Ahmed Shawky | Egypt, Ali Wajeeh | Syria, Alin TAŞÇIYAN | Turkey, Amber Wilkinson | UK, Andrew Mohsen | Egypt, Ásgeir H. Ingólfsson | Iceland, Czech Republic, Carmen Gray | New Zealand, Chris Newbould | UK, Deborah Young | USA, Dragan Rubesa | Croatia, Emad El Nouwairy | Kuwait, Erfan Rashid | Iraq, Italy, Fionnuala Haligan |UK, Gautaman Bhaskaran | India, Giona A. Nazzaro | Switzerland, Hammadi Gueroum | Morocco, Harri Römpötti | Finland, Hassan Haddad | Bahrain, Hassouna Mansouri | Tunisia, Hauvick Habéchian | Lebanon, Houda Ibrahim | Lebanon, France, Husam Asi | Palestine, UK, Ibrahim Alariss | Lebanon, Ikbal Zalila | Tunisia, Jay Weissberg | USA, Jim Quilty | Canada/Beirut, Kadhum Saloom | Iraq, Kais Kassem | Iraq, Sweden, Kaleem Aftab | UK, Khaled Mahmoud | Egypt, Khalid Ali | Sudan/UK, Khalil Demmoun | Morocco, Kiva Reardon | Canada, Magdy Eltayeb | Egypt, Mahmoud Mahdy | Egypt, Massimo Lechi | Italy, Mohamed Atef | Egypt, Mohamed Hashem Abdelsalam | Egypt, Mohamed Benaziz | Morocco, Mohammed Boughalleb | Tunisia, Mohammed Chouika | Morocco, Mohammed Rouda | Lebanon/UK, Nabil Hadji | Algeria, Nadim Jarjoura | Lebanon, Nageh Hassan | Jordan, Ola Kamel Al-Sheikh | Palestine, UAE, Ola Shafey | Egypt, Olivier Barlet | France, Ossama Abdel Fattah | Egypt, Pamela Biénzobas | Chile/France, Ramy Abd El Razek | Egypt, Rasha Hosny | Egypt, Ronnit Hasson | Sweden, Safaa Jibara Al-saleh | Iraq, UK, Sydney J. Levine | USA, Tarek Ben Chaabane | Tunisia, Tarek El Shinnawi | Egypt, Youssef Cherif Rizkallah | Egypt, Ziad Khuzai | Iraq, UK.
Organized by MAD Solutions in 2015, the Arab Cinema Center (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 Center's activities vary between film market main wings, introduction and networking sessions for 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.