AVE MARIA Scoops Two Awards at Palm Springs International Short Film Festival

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1st Place HP Bridging The Borders Award and a Special Mention

AVE MARIA Scoops Two Awards at Palm Springs International Short Film Festival

Following a successful screening at North America's largest short film festival, the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival, Basil Khalil's short comedy film AVE MARIA has been awarded 1st place in the HP Bridging The Borders Award presented by Cinema without Borders. The film also received a Special Mention for Best Live Action Short Film.

AVE MARIA also received wide critical acclaim in the international media. Following the screening at Palm Springs, Bruce Fessier wrote a piece about the film in The Desert Sun, saying, "10 (out of 10) ... the funniest film I have seen in this festival." He also added that the film delivered the greatest religious message a film could send through the forced cooperation between the Jewish family and the meditative nuns.

World renowned film writer Nina E. Rothe, who met Basil Khalil during the Cannes Film Festival, wrote an article about the film for the Huffington Post, in which she describes the film as a "charming, funny, beautifully made short film." She went on to say that Khalil opted for "choosing the human side of the struggle. When a very small group of Palestinian Carmelite nuns and a family of Jewish settlers "collide" together through a car crash outside the convent, they then need each others' cooperation to get away from one another as soon as possible."

AVE MARIA's win comes only a few days following its participation at Sydney Film Festival, Australia where it had two full house screenings along with Villa Touma. The turnout reached over 1,500 people, their laughter reflecting a strong admiration and engagement with AVE MARIA. The film's overbooked screenings broke the festival record for a weekday screening of an independent film.

AVE MARIA continues its international festival tour this summer with two confirmed screenings in July at the Grenoble Short Film Festival in France, and the Capalbio Short Film Festival, Italy's largest short film festival.

AVE MARIA had its world premiere in the Short Film Competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Most recently, French broadcaster Canal+ has bought the French pay-TV rights exclusively. MAD Solutions is the film's distributor in the Arab world and OUAT Media, an Academy AwardŽ winning sales company, is handling AVE MARIA's international distribution. Owned and operated by Channel Zero Inc, Ouat Media has contributed to the distribution of many short- and long award-winning films worldwide.

The 14-minute film tells the story of the nuns of the 'Sisters of Mercy' convent in the middle of the West Bank wilderness, whose daily routine of silence and prayer is disrupted when a family of religious Israeli settlers crash their car into the convent's wall. The Sabbath is approaching and they need to get home urgently, however, because of the Sabbath laws, the Israelis can't operate a phone to call for assistance, and the Nuns have taken a vow of silence. Together they have to come up with an unorthodox plan to help them get home.

The title of the film, "AVE MARIA", is Latin for the prayer "Hail Mary", an important Roman Catholic prayer. The film was written by Basil Khalil and Daniel Yáñez, and stars Maria Zreik, Huda Al Imam, Shady Srour, Ruth Farhi and Maya Koren.

Basil Khalil was born and raised in Nazareth, to a Palestinian father and a British mother. He studied for an MA in Screen Project Development at Screen Academy Scotland then moved to London to work in Television productions. In 2011 Basil was selected by SCREEN International as one of "top 10 Arab Filmmakers to Watch". Basil directed several films such as the documentary Replay Revenge (2006) and the short film Ping Pong Revenge (2005) and is currently developing his first feature film.

The film is produced by Incognito Films in Paris in collaboration with Flying Moon Filmproduktion, with the support of Robert Bosch Stiftung Fund in Germany.

Incognito Films was first established by Eric Dupont, who's been working in the film industry for over 15 years. He worked at Fildebroc, a Paris-based film production company, running their development slate. In his partnership with producer Michelle de Broca, they have produced films directed by Cannes Festival contender Rolf de Heer and Oscar-nominated Dominique Deruddere. Eric also worked for the London-based talent and literary agency Hamilton Hodell. Composed of a range of genres and budgets, Incognito Films' current development slate features art-house features and new indie movies from American and European cult directors and international co-producers.