Published 6 July 2022
The Amman International Film Festival – Awal Film (AIFF) is Jordan’s first international film festival, which promises to highlight local, regional, and international début movies, and its 3rd edition will be taking place between 20 and 27 July 2022.
The theme of this year’s festival, for the first time held fully on the ground and without the ever looming threat of the pandemic, is “First Film, First Love.” Being one of the few international festivals in the world and the only one in the Arab world to focus entirely on firsts in film, this year’s artwork also carries the festival’s vision and its love for first-time achievements.The theme conveys a message of freshness and renewal, following the constraints of the global pandemic. The artwork was conceived and designed by Mohammed Abd El-Hadi, the festival’s art director and happily reflects the restored connection and proximity amongst people, while linking first achievements in filmmaking to falling in love again.
The festival director and co-founder Nada Doumani, said: “The Festival has gained recognition in the film industry and audiences alike in its relatively short history. We are looking forward for an upcoming edition filled with new possibilities and exciting opportunities.” Adding, “we strongly believe in the power of cinema, in its values of diversity, inclusion and free expression; as well as in its capacity to open-up viewers to new worlds. Our focus remains on Arab cinema and the immense talents it has in the Maghreb, Levant, Gulf and the Horn of Africa. We hope we can contribute to support these voices and emerging filmmakers.”
The festival will utilise its previous venues, with screenings taking place in three of the most popular districts of Amman as a manifestation of the AIFF’s mission of serving the general audience. The venues include TAJ Cinemas in Abdoun, the open-air theatre at The Royal Film Commission (RFC) in Jabal Amman and the state-of-the-art Drive-in Cinema in The Abdali District built especially by the Festival every year. Tickets will continue to be priced at highly affordable rates to be as accessible as possible. In parallel, the Festival will run the Amman Film Industry Days, including a Market component for the first time.The dedicated team of the Festival includes Areeb Zuaiter, who heads the Festival’s Screening program, while the Industry Section falls in the hands of Bassam Alasad, both of them returning for the second year. The Board of the AIFF is headed by Princess Rym Ali and includes Raja Gargour, Omar Masri, Nadia Sukhtian and Kinan Jaradat.
AIFF continues its sustainable approach, branding itself as an environmentally friendly film festival for the second year. This year, the festival is taking concrete steps, by promoting environmental messages and practices. In fact, within the framework of the “Amman Film Industry Days”, a day-long event named “Storytelling for Climate” is dedicated to developing films which are concerned with climate change. “Storytelling for Climate” is in cooperation with Beirut DC and Greener Screen. To offset the carbon footprint that might result from necessary actions, such as travelling and transportation, the AIFF is also giving a donation to the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature (APN) in order to plant trees in Jordan. There are plenty of other initiatives in place, such as eliminating diesel generators which are traditionally used to run drive-in cinemas, as well as recycling and up cycling all the material used in promotion, branding and artwork.
A festival is of course only as good as its films and AIFF has a line up to entice. This year, theirs is a rich and diverse programme, complemented by activities dedicated to film professionals and in the presence of filmmakers, actors and actresses, international experts and producers. The line-up consists of 52 films from 29 producing and co-producing countries, including Arab and international feature-length narratives and documentaries, as well as Arab shorts. The unique selection was carefully curated after viewing hundreds of submissions, offering viewers an opportunity to watch films, which might not make it to commercial theatres in Jordan. All movies were released in 2021 and 2022 and are competing in four different categories, whereby winners will receive the Black Iris Trophy and cash awards.
In this upcoming edition, the AIFF will be hosting thirty three filmmakers, amongst the pool of foreign guests, who will be representing their films and answering questions from the audience. The films, their directors and their countries of origin, are listed below. In parallel to the screening program, a series of workshops, panels and three pitching platforms for projects in development and post-production, as well as a Market, are organised in the framework of the Amman Film Industry Days (AFID).
The Festival’s programme dedicates its “First & Latest” section – which features the work and the cinematic journey of an accomplished and renowned filmmaker – to Egyptian auteur and acclaimed director Yousry Nasrallah. Nasrallah will give a closer look on how his filmmaking style and language have evolved over the years.
Furthermore, the third edition of the AIFF will be hosting the Franco-Arab Film Festival for the second year in a row, with the special out-of-competition section called “Franco-Arab Rendez-Vous”. The Franco-Arab Rendez-Vous will showcase four feature length French films or films co-produced with France, as well as four shorts.
Among our favorites at MIME is Costa Brava, Lebanon by Mounia Akl, Daughters of Abdulrahman by Zaid Abu Hamdan, Streams by Mehdi Hmili, Our River… Our Sky by Maysoon Pachachi and Mariner of the Mountain by Karim Aïnouz, screened in the Franco-Arab sidebar and out of competition of course — with tons more films to be discovered!
Considering the films and awarding the best prizes will be three juries.
The Arab Feature Narrative Film jury consists of the acclaimed director-writer, Nadine Khan, whose credits include Chaos, Disorder (2012) and Abu Saddam (2021) that premiered at the 43Cairo International Film Festival. Joining Khan is the film-club host, journalist and film critic, Luciano Barisone, who served as a director for Visions du Réel in Nyon and has taken part in numerous festival juries including Cannes, Amsterdam and Toronto. And the third jury member is Samiha Khrais, a prolific Jordanian novelist and playwright whose writings have been translated in several languages and who received a number of awards including the Katara Prize and the King Hussein Medal of Excellence.
The Arab Feature Documentary Film jury includes Irène Challand, a film producer and the head of the Public Value Department at the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation; Phil Jandaly, an award-winning editor with over two decades of working experience; Aseel Mansour, who has written, produced, and directed several films including the docudrama The Great Arab Revolt (2016), Line of Sight (2012) and Uncle Nashaat (2011).
The Arab Short Film jury consists of seasoned Lebanese theatre and cinema actress Carmen Lebbos, best known for her performances in West Beirut (1998), Whatever Lola Wants (2007), Zozo (2005) and Lila Dit Ça (2004). She is joined by the distinguished young director, Ameer Fakher Eldin, whose début film The Stranger (2021) premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, won multiple international awards and was submitted as the Palestinian entry for the 84th Academy Awards. The jury includes also Nadia Eliewat, a producer, screenwriter and Associate Professor, who co-produced the Jordanian feel-good film When Monaliza Smiled (2012) and Mahbas (2016).
The winners of each film section will be announced at the AIFF’s Closing Ceremony on 27 July 2022. The winners of the competitive sections will receive cash prize awards – US $20,000 USD for Best Arab Feature Narrative; US $15,000 for Best Arab Feature Documentary; US $5,000 for Best Arab Short. This comes in addition to the bronze-made Black Iris trophy, designed by the late Jordanian artist Mohanna Durra, a pioneer of the Jordanian Arts movement. The Festival’s audience attending the AIFF, will be voting for the best film in the International Film Section, which will also receive US $5,000.
For more information, check out the Amman International Film Festival’s website. See all films participating listed below.
Line-up of Films
Arab Feature-Length Narrative Films Competing for the Black Iris Awards:
A Second Life, by Chema Lassoued (Tunisia)
Costa Brava, Lebanon, by Mounia Akl (Lebanon)
Daughters of Abdulrahman, by Zaid Abu Hamdan (Jordan)
Farha, by Darin J. Sallam (Jordan)
Tomorrow, by Dhafer L’Abidine (Tunisia)
Life Suits Me Well, by Al Hadi Ulad-Mohand (Morocco)
Our River … Our Sky, by Maysoon Pachachi (Iraq)
Souad, by Ayten Amin (Egypt)
Soula, by Sala Issad (Algeria)
Streams, by Mehdi Hmili (Tunisia)
The Gravedigger’s Wife, by Khadar Ahmed (Somalia)
Arab Feature-Length Documentary Films Competing for the Black Iris Award:
Fiasco, by Nicolas Khoury (Lebanon)
Little Palestine, Diary of a Siege, by Abdallah Al-Khatib (Lebanon)
My Mohamed is Different, by Inès Marzouk (Tunisia)
Nile Crocodile, by Nabil Shazli (Egypt)
Take Me to the Cinema, by Albaqer Jafeer (Iraq)
The Blue Inmates, by Zeina Daccache (Lebanon)
Suspended Wives by Merieme Addou (Morocco)
Arab Short Films Competing for the Black Iris Award:
18 / 11, by Medhat Maged (Egypt)
Alternative Memory, by Leen Abdo (Jordan)
Arwa, by Jumana Eldur (Jordan)
Bantustan, by Mohammad Mansour (Palestine)
Champollion St., Urban Observations, by Asmaa Ibrahim (Egypt)
Echoes, by Julien Kobersy (Lebanon)
The Mission, by Mohammad Dabbas (Jordan)
My Mother’s Voice, by Mourad Hamla (Algeria)
Paradis, by Chris Akoury (Lebanon)
A Place Once Existed, Narjess Rafic Karim (Lebanon)
Traversing the Reimagined Palestinian Neighbourhood, by Zain Wahbeh (Jordan)
Unspoken, by Mohammed Alghadhban (Iraq)
Venus and the Mirror, by Amin ben Mousa (Morocco)
When the Sea Was Blue, by Amr Elseyoufi (Egypt)
L’hiver, by Karam Awadat (Jordan)
Ya Mejana, by Mahdi Mousawi (Lebanon)
International Films Competing for the Audience Award:
Convenience Store, by Michael Borodin (Russia, Slovenia, Turkey)
Knocking, by Frida Kempff (Sweden)
Life of Ivanna, by Renato Borrayo Serrano (Guatemala, Russia, Norway, Finland, Estonia)
Playground, by Laura Wandel (Belgium)
Prayers for the Stolen, by Tatiana Huezo (Mexico, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Switzerland, USA)
Soy Libre, by Laure Portier (France, Belgium)
The Crossing, by Florence Miailhe (France, Czech Republic, Germany)
The Promise, by Leonardo Avezzano (Italy, Netherlands, Jordan)
Zalava, by Arsalan Amiri (Iran)
Franco-Arab Rendez-vous section:
Mariner of the Mountains, by Karim Aïnouz (Algeria, France, Germany, Brazil)
Bonne Mère, by Hafsia Herzi (Tunisia,France)
You Resemble Me, by Dina Amer (Egypt, France, USA) (Yet to be confirmed)
The River, by Ghassan Salhab (Lebanon, France, Germany, Qatar)