The fourth edition of the Amman International Film Festival (AIFF) was held from 15 to 23 August, highlighting Jordan’s and the wider region’s filmmaking endeavors through a cinematic extravaganza that celebrated diversity, artistic expression, and intercultural dialogue.
AIFF brought together filmmakers, cinephiles, and industry professionals to explore the artistic medium. With an impressive program of 56 narrative features, documentaries, and short films from 19 countries, Jordan presented a mosaic of perspectives and narratives. Eleven films made their Arab world debut, while five had their world premiere.
The AIFF saw films from Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt secure several awards. The Black Iris Awards ceremony was held at The Royal Film Commission in Amman, marking an end to the eight-day cinematic spectacle.
Four Egyptian films participated in this year’s edition of the festival, namely, Rat Hole, My Girlfriend, The Tedious Tale of M, and Microbus. Of the four, Rat Hole and My Girlfriend went home with awards.
Gohr Al Fe’ran (Rat Hole) is one of the four Egyptian films that participated in the fourth edition of the Amman International Film Festival. Directed by Mohammed El Samman, the film follows the daily life of Kholood (Rana Khattab), an NGO telemarketer, who can either let go of her principles or watch her family struggle financially.
Rat Hole reveals the dark side of Egyptian non-governmental organizations through the eyes of a single character over 94 minutes. The film’s leading actress, Rana Khattab, delivers a genuine performance that captivates audiences. Adding to its realism, Rat Hole was filmed over two mornings in an actual workplace before regular employees arrived.
Rana Khattab received the Special Mention prize for first-time lead actor/actress at the Amman International Film Festival for her outstanding portrayal in the film.
Egyptian filmmaker Kawthar Younis’ captivating short film Sahbety (My Girlfriend) secured The Black Iris award for Best Arab Short at the Amman International Film Festival.
The film’s central character, Ali (Marc Haggar), embarks on a quest for intimacy. Upon his girlfriend’s request, he puts his relationship to the ultimate test . What unfolds is a thought-provoking 17-minute exploration where conventional gender roles take an unexpected turn, prompting viewers to question societal norms.
This film has garnered not only the recognition of the Amman International Film Festival but also the prestigious Jury Award at several other renowned festivals, including the MedFilm Festival in Italy, Passaggi d’Autore: Intrecci Mediterranei, Ningbo Short Film Festival in China, and the Cairo International Film Festival in Egypt. Additionally, Younis became the first Egyptian female director to participate in the Venice International Film Festival.
My Girlfriend advocated for discussing the intricate nuances of gender in the Middle East, a subject often overlooked. Through its artful portrayal, the film sparks essential conversations about dismantling biases and shattering stereotypes, emphasizing the power of cinema as a catalyst for change.
The Tedious Tour of M
Written and directed by Hend Bakr, Gawlat Mim Al-Momela (The Tedious Tour of M) was the third Egyptian film in Amman International Film Festival in the Arab Feature-Length Documentary Competition.
The Tedious Tour of M unveils the life tale of Mohammed Hafez Ragab, the writer credited with reinventing the modern Arabic short story . Ragab, once a humble peanut street vendor, ascended to prominence in Egyptian literary circles during the sixties.
Many of his peers did not appreciate his rebellious nature at the time, and after an incident wherein he criticized several big writers from the older generation, he was shunned from the Egyptian literary community. As a consequence, the renowned author lost purpose, retreating to his hometown in Alexandria. Despite his tremendous talent, Ragab renounced his craft, immersing himself in solitude for over three decades.
Bakr becomes intricately entwined with Ragab’s narratives, intrigued by his choice to withdraw from society and the art that once defined him. Set predominantly within Ragab’s modest Wardian apartment, the film delves into his solitary existence, a tapestry woven with the threads of sustenance, rest, silence, and prayer.
“The Tedious Tour of M” peels back the layers of a literary virtuoso’s life, highlighting sections in Ragab’s life.
Microbus, written and directed by Maggie Kamal and starring Dalia Shawky and Sabour Abuldahab, offers an original perspective on sexual harassment.
The film has garnered praise and nominations at numerous prestigious film festivals, including the Encourage International Film Festival, the Cinquest Film Festival in the United States, and the Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival. Microbus was the fourth Egyptian films participating in the Amman International Film Festival.
The story is set against the backdrop of a typical day in Cairo and follows 18-year-old Nour, who finds herself in a difficult situation when her sibling is unable to provide her usual ride. Nour has no choice but to take a microbus to get to work on time, but she has no idea that this relatively ordinary journey will have a profound impact on her life.
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