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The cast of film ‘Asham: A Man Called Hope’ with its director Maggie Morgan (fourth left), during the Arab Film press conference at Al Mirqab Hotel yesterday. .Shaival Dalal
BY RAYNALD C RIVERA
DOHA: A mosaic of Arab films on rediscovering one’s past and looking towards a better future comprises some of the top contenders for honours at the ongoing fourth Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF).
A total of 27 films are under competition in various categories including 13 in Arab Shorts and 14 in Arab Feature further divided into Narrative and Documentary, four of which were presented to the media yesterday.
‘Embers’ is a touching documentary dedicated to the memory of the filmmaker’s grandmother through conversations with the elederly circle of friends, in which the filmmaker uncovers significant facts of the history of Armenia.
“The film is a journey driven by missing my grandmother and my childhood having to leave Armenia at age 11, but then in the process I rediscovered my own country. The journey started with my grandmother and ended up with a much wider path,” explains director Tamara Stepanyan.
The film teems with much style and technique to put the feelings, tempo and language together to come up with the film as a fitting personal tribute to the filmmaker’s grandmother whom she admired so much, according to Co-Producer Michele Tyan.
“It was not meant to be a popular film but a personal one, but I would be very happy if it reaches a wider audience,” said Stepanyan.
‘The Lebanese Rocket Society’ on the other hand treads another path of revisiting a country’s proud moment in the past virtually buried deep in the recesses of the people’s memory. The film involved a daunting challenge of researching about the Society key for Lebanon being the first to launch a rocket in the Middle East back in the 60’s.
Khalil Joreige, co-director of the film said the idea of the film sparked when he saw a stamp reminding him of the historic moment.
“We started researching but surprisingly no one remembered though it was a significant period in our history, and we ended up finding the people involved in the project,” relates Joreige, stressing in any country art and cinema can provoke search for remnants of a forgotten history and revive interest in such.
Set at the backdrop of Cairo turmoil leading up to the January 25 Revolution, ‘Asham: A Man Called Hope’ tells of stories of six couples at different stages of romantic involvement linked by a street peddler Asham optimistic of a better future reflecting the hopes of Egypt.
The film’s director Maggie M Morgan said the film is a collective story of people from different backgrounds with commom hopes and dreams and that it was apolitical. Tunisian film ‘Professor’, according to Director Mahmoud Ben Mahmoud is an important film for Tunisian cinema as not many movies venture into political themes like the film.
The film, an examination of the state of human rights in Tunisia in the 70’s, traces how the life of a professor working for the government is put in jeopardy when his student whom he is having extramarital affair is jailed for her political views.
The movie, which was funded by the Ministry of Culture of the previous regime, started six months before the revolution and was delayed due to economic reasons not because of the conflict, said Ben Mahmoud, adding the DFI helped financially towards the realisation of the movie.
Winners of the Arab Film competition will be revealed at an awards ceremony on Thursday at Al Rayyan Theatre in Souq Waqif.