Great success for Middle East Now 2021: during the six days of the festival a large and involved audience enthusiastically welcomed the program of cinema, exhibitions and events dedicated to the Middle East and its contemporary culture.
The 12th edition took place in Florence from 28 September to 3 October 2021 at the Cinema la Compagnia, at the Cinema Stensen, at the MAD Murate Art District, at the Cartavetra gallery and other locations in the city, and simultaneously on the La Compagnia / MYMOVIES platform.
All the film evenings were sold out and the audience of the afternoon screenings and matinees was also very numerous. Great turnout also for the opening of the exhibitions: “Marrakech, In Times of Stillness” at MAD Murate Art District until November 20, by the young photographer Tabit Rida who during the pandemic took the opportunity to photograph the numerous changes in his city and the often overlooked reality of Marrakech, beyond tourism and crowds. And “Watermelon after Lunch” by the Kuwaiti-born artist Zahra Marwan, at Galleria Cartavetra until 6 October: beautiful and poetic illustrations on paper on the complexity of being Middle Eastern in a completely different reality and country like the United States, a country in she grew up as an immigrant along with her family.
Over 20 international guests arrived in Florence for the festival.
On the final evening the prizes of the 12th edition were awarded:
_ The “Middle East Now AUDIENCE AWARD 2021”, for best film voted by the audience, went to 200 METERS (Palestine, Jordan, Qatar, Italy, Sweden, 2020, 96 ‘), an extraordinary first work by the young Palestinian director of Ameen Nayfeh. In the film, the protagonists Mustafa and his wife Salwa come from two countries that are only two hundred meters apart, but separated by the wall, a distance that in the dynamic narrative of the film turns into an odyssey of two hundred kilometers.
_ The “Iran and Afghanistan 2021 Cinema Award”, awarded in memory of Felicetta Ferraro, went to RADIOGRAPH OF A FAMILY (Iran, Norway, Switzerland, 2020, 82 ‘) by director Firouzeh Khosrovani, story of the director’s family and of the struggle perennial of his parents between secularism and Islamic ideology. The jury composed of Mario Vitalone, Germana Rivi and Bianca Maria Filippini awarded him with the following motivation:
“The extraordinary and original recovery of historical archive materials, photos and super eight films is used with skilful editing by the director to reconstruct the thread of the dramatic changes of an Iranian family during the years of the Islamic revolution. Through the dialogues and letters between her father and mother, she tiptoes into the living room that is transformed. Through this intimate and private story, seen from the eyes of the child director, a world in conflict emerges between a secular vision of the father and a religious vision of the mother who become a metaphor for a country divided and torn apart by a political, cultural and social revolution. The apparent irreconcilability of the worlds to which the father and mother adhere finds a possible synthesis in this artistic project, even when this synthesis remains in the ambivalence of a suspended choice of belonging, and makes us better understand the contradictions of the Iranian social reality. . “
_ The “Best OFF Award”, for the best auteur short film awarded by OFF Cinema, went to THREE SONGS FOR BENAZIR (Afghanistan, 2021, 22 ‘) by Elizabeth & Gulistan Mirzaei, with the following motivation:
“To offer, through a rare documentary access, an intimate and disarming insight into the life, dreams, aspirations and forced choices of a young Afghan family who is in a camp for displaced persons in Kabul. Shot over several years, the unexpected developments of the story go far beyond the personal narrative, bringing to the screen a drama of (internal) national scale, without ever losing sight of the private and subjective dimension of the protagonist. “
_ And then the “STAFF Award” for the best short film assigned by the festival staff: this edition went to the beautiful THE PRESENT by Farah Nabulsi (Palestine, 2019, 25′), also nominated for the latest edition of the Oscars, starring Yusuf and his daughter, who go to buy an anniversary gift for his wife, which in the West Bank requires a lot of patience and bargaining.
“The short, starting from an apparently banal action and through a simple dynamic linked to everyday life, highlights the systemic injustice of the situation, on the one hand, and, on the other, the ingenuity and courage of the little girl who represents determination, resistance and hope for the future ”.