Doha Film Institute-Funded Movie Wins Sundance Jury Award| MENAFN.COM

Saturday, 25 March 2023 02:39 GMT

Doha Film Institute-Funded Movie Wins Sundance Jury Award

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) joelyn baluyut | The Peninsula

Doha: A 2023 science-fiction film Animalia, written and directed by French-Moroccan Sofia Alaoui bagged the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Creative Vision at the recently concluded Sundance Film Festival held in Utah, USA.

The first feature film by Alaoui, which was supported by the Doha Film Institute (DFI), had its global debut at the renowned film festival.

This is the filmmaker's most recent accolade and marks her return to Sundance following the selection and Grand Jury Prize of her short film So what if the goat dies in 2020. The said movie has also won Best Short Film at the 2021 César Awards, the French version of the Oscars.

Alaoui said she was pleased about winning the award.“We feel happy because it's the first time that we screened the film [internationally] so when you have the prize for the first festival, it's always great,” she told The Peninsula.

She also expressed gratitude to DFI for making it possible for the movie to be completed.

“For such a kind of film which is very complicated - it's in Arabic language, there are many video effects, there's a huge visual ambition - so to have the support... to get the financial support is the key for this film.”

Her film is among the roster of DFI-funded movies that this month alone has gained global recognition. Two Qatari films, Khalifa Al Thani's Border and Amal Al Shammari and Hossein Heydar's Fraiha won Best Film in the Short Fiction International Film Category at the 11th Tangier Film Festival based in Morocco and was selected to screen at Los Angeles International Children's Film Festival respectively. The new recognition has also put the Arab cinema in particular to new heights.

Alaoui said she is part of the“new wave of filmmakers”.

“I'm really proud of this new wave of filmmakers; the Arab cinema in the history has always been interesting, when you see the Egyptian and Moroccan cinemas of the 1980s, we couldn't say that it is new but maybe there's a new wave. I've always loved Arab cinema from all the region, but what I can say is that maybe the type of films that are presented to the main festivals abroad maybe more diversified [showcasing] different type of films, and this is really encouraging,” she explained.

According to Sundance, Animalia is Alaoui's astonishing feature debut, birthing an imaginative sci-fi that explores the unsettling circumstances of a world that no longer seems recognisable.

“With a hypnotic visual sensibility, Animalia explores the tension between faith and purpose, eroding myths and challenging class prejudice to expose the ways we are all more connected than we know.”

The award-winning filmmaker said the movie“brings a lot of hope and is more than a supernatural drama; it's a human ode to nature, and I think nowadays it is really important to be aware of our environment”.

“I hope that people will enjoy it, we made this film with a lot of love, it's a non-conventional film and we're happy that we've been selected to the Sundance and for the award,” she said.

On screening the film in the country, Alaoui said they are aiming to show the film on the big screen this year. Sofia Alaoui at a young age has been making her name in the global filmmaking industry.

Just recently, she was featured as one of Screen Daily's Arab Stars of Tomorrow.

The filmmaker began making short films in 2013, and among them are Le Rēve De Cendrillon and Les Enfants De Naplouse; both were broadcast on French television. Before Animalia, she has produced 2020's The Lake for 20th Century Fox, broadcast on Hulu.


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