BFI hosts final night of Arab film festival
London - James Campbell
The 2013 Birds Eye View Film Festival has drawn to a close in London. This year’s event celebrated Arab women directors.
BEV culminated in an awards ceremony, and screening of Gaza love story, Habibi, at the London British Film Institute. Various patrons, previous winners and festival jurors announced the winners to a sold-out crowd.
Three awards were given, Best Short Film, Best Documentary, and Best Work of Fiction.
Best Short was awarded to Leyla Bouzid for Soubresauts. Presenting the award, Gareth Evans of the London Whitechapel Gallery, praised the short for its “subtle and sharp storytelling and touching portrayal of a mother-daughter bond in the Arab world.”
Bouzid said she was “happy and honoured” to accept the award, adding that “women have stories to tell to make the world think and grow.”
Soubresauts was described by BEV as “a powerful portrait of taboos and inhibition in the Tunisian middle-classes.”
The Best Documentary award was presented by Sunday Times journalist, Wendy Ide. An honourable mention was given to Gaza Calling for its “rich, diverse and thought provoking storytelling.”
The winner of the award was Sleepless Nights. The documentary, which premiered at the festival, focuses on a Syrian mother looking for her son, and acknowledges the tragedies and losses inflicted by civil war.
Ide described the documentary as “unflinching in its intimacy,” adding that its candour was thought provoking.
“It was a very personal movie, so I’m glad it was appreciated” said the director, Elaine Raheb.
“Sleepless aims to explore the wounds left in the aftermath of conflict in Lebanon,” she added.
Sally El Hosiani, the esteemed Egyptian director and previous BEV winner presented the biggest award of the night for Best Fiction Film. The award went to On the Edge by Leila Kilani.
“It was a unanimous decision,” said Hosiani. “This film bursts with kinetic energy. It is a bold portrait of disenfranchised women, we were spellbound by the profoundly moving raw emotion.”
Kilani thanked the jurors, saying: “It was a complicated film to produce and direct. It shows the willpower to represent women in the Arab world without the cliché of pathos and misery. It shows women of the Arab world in a new light.”
Festival director, Kate Gerova, closed the ceremony, adding: “It’s been a terrific festival. We’ve enjoyed sell out screenings and great feedback. We’ve been proud to display the balanced and artistic vision of independent women filmmakers.”