Winners of the second BBC Arabic Festival Awards announced

Date: 02.11.2015     Last updated: 03.11.2015 at 12.49
Category: World Service
BBC Arabic Festival announced the 2015 winners at yesterday's Closing Awards Ceremony. The high-profile event was held at the BBC’s iconic Radio Theatre and will be broadcast on BBC Arabic TV. The winners were announced across five categories: Feature Documentary, Short Documentary, Reportage, Short Film and the BBC Arabic Young Journalist Award.

The Closing Awards Ceremony is the finale to the four-day BBC Arabic Festival which ran this year from Friday 30 October to Monday 2 November. All events were free to the public. This year’s applicants - filmmakers and journalists - had been asked to submit work along the theme of ‘Rulers and Ruled: Power in a Changing Arab World’ and to expressly explore the struggles for power and control that continue to shake the region. Twenty shortlisted films were screened around topics including migration, exile, gender and sexuality.

For four days of the BBC Arabic festival, sessions were all presented to a full audience and the winners were judged to be those that had shown the most outstanding vision, creativity and storytelling ability.

The Closing Awards Ceremony was hosted by Shappi Khorsandi, the Iranian born British stand-up comedian and author with a performance by Lebanese rock band Mashrou’ Leila.

The BBC Arabic award winners are:

  • Feature Documentary Category

Winner: The Immortal Sergeant, directed by Ziad Kalthoum

After the Syrian revolution, Ziad Kalthoum served as a reservist while also working as assistant to the acclaimed Syrian film director Mohammed Malas. The Immortal Sergeant follows Ziad through a typical day in 2012, giving us a glimpse of his fellow Syrians as they struggle with their grief and trauma while attempting to continue with their ordinary lives. The Immortal Sergeant, born out of his experience working on Ladder to Damascus, has screened at numerous festivals and was awarded a prize at the Locarno Film Festival.

Ziad Kalthoum is a soldier in the morning and a filmmaker for the rest of the day. He was born in Homs, Syria in 1981. Before making feature documentaries, he worked as assistant director on several films, series and TV programmes. His first documentary Aydil (Oh, My Heart, 2012) was selected for the Carthage Film Festival.

“This film is creative and extraordinary” - Tina Carr, Director of Rory Peck Trust, BBC Arabic Festival judge, Reportage and Feature Documentary panel.

  • Short Documentary Category

Winner: Safwan Market, directed by Hadi Mahood

Safwan Market, located in the heart of Samawa, Iraq, is the city’s largest marketplace and the most lucrative area for its inhabitants to earn a living. When the government decides to demolish the market in order to build a mosque, the vendors working there have reason to revolt. Where will they take their business? How will they earn their livelihood? And why have the city developers decided on this particular spot?

Hadi Mahood is an award-winning filmmaker and theatre director. His works include The Drowned, a documentary based on confidential information from the Iraqi police files, Nights Of Gypsy’s Descent, a documentary on gypsies subjected to hatred following the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, Iraq my Country, Collapse, Cart and Ambulance Driver.

“A determined piece about a complex situation in Iraq.” - Safa AlAhmad, Documentary Filmmaker and BBC Arabic Festival judge on Short Documentaries and Short Films panel

  • Reportage Category

Winner: Sisa, Iron Lady, directed by Aly Elsotohy

Sisa’s husband died while she was pregnant with their first child. This short report tells the extraordinary story of how she has spent the past 43 years dressing as a man in order to work and support her child. Sisa, Iron Lady illustrates her determination to overcome gender bias.

Aly ElSotohy is a director, producer and editor. After graduating in 2007, he started his career in investigative journalism. Aly now works as Director for the Department of Multimedia News in Egypt.

“Speaks volumes about the state of society. It resonated with me.” - Martin Chulov, Journalist, The Guardian & BBC Arabic Festival judge on Reportage and Feature Documentary panel.

  • Short Film Category

Winner: The Great Safae, directed by Randa Maroufi

The Great Safae is a fictional, experimental documentary inspired by a real person.

Referred to as ‘The Great Safae’, she was a transgender who spent part of her life working as a domestic servant for the director’s family. Throughout this time, her ‘true’ sexual identity eluded everyone in the house. Based on this ambiguity, Maroufi re-imagines ‘Safae’ as she goes through her daily routine, working in the house and changing from male to female. The film stylistically weaves in snippets of conversation from various members of the family about social views on gender behavior. The Great Safae is a story of interchanging realities.

Randa Maroufi is an artist who works across photography, installation, performance, sound and film. Her work has a focus on issues surrounding gender and public space.

Maroufi has exhibited in institutions globally, including the Marrakech Biennale, the Arab World Institute in Paris, the African Photography Meeting in Bamako and the Internationale Kurzfilmtage International Short Film Festival in Dresden. She lives and works between Tangier and Lille.

“This is what cinema should be.” - Orwa Nyrabia, Film Producer, ProAction Films & BBC Arabic Festival judge, Short Documentary and Short Film panel.

  • BBC Young Journalist Award

Jumana Saadeh for Second Hand Refugee

This significant award entails training and equipment up to the value of £10,000 to assist in developing new work. The winner also has the opportunity to showcase their work at the next BBC Arabic Festival. The award is part of BBC Arabic’s recognition and support for the next generation of filmmakers and journalists across the Arab region.

Jumana Saadeh is a filmmaker from Jordan. She is currently a director and producer at Shashat Multimedia Productions in Amman, creating content for web and television. Second Hand Refugee is her first documentary. It was screened at the Al-Jazeera Documentary Film Festival in Qatar and the Altin Cinar Film Festival in Turkey. Jumana holds an MA in Film Production from the University of Central Lancashire.