After Winning First Prize in Dubai
AVE MARIA Will be First Short To Have a Theatrical Run in The Arab World
After making it on to the Academy Awards┬« short-list for best live action short film, AVE MARIA by Palestinian filmmaker Basil Khalil, won the prestigious Muhr Award earlier this week at the 12th Dubai International Film Festival. AVE MARIA is due a theatrical release in the Arab world, the first of its kind for a short film in recent times. Set to be shown during January/February 2016, the film's release dates and locations will be announced soon.
Film Analyst Alaa Karkouti, CEO of MAD Solutions (the film's Arab world distributor) commented on the plans for a commercial release for AVE MARIA saying, "This is in line with MAD Solutions' ongoing mission to explore every opportunity for Arab films. Short films have rarely found a screening window in the Arab world, but with the upcoming release of the Oscar┬« contender Palestinian short, AVE MARIA, we hope to make it the first step in the journey of a thousand miles towards a sustainable future for Arab filmmakers."
The 14-minute comedy tells the story of Palestinian nuns living in the middle of the West Bank wilderness, who have their daily routine of silence and prayer disrupted when a family of Israeli settlers breaks down right outside their convent just as the Sabbath is beginning. The family need to get home but can't operate the phone, and the Nuns have taken a vow of silence.
"I wanted to highlight the mutual mistrust that these two groups have for one other, and to show that it is possible for people to put aside their differences in the name of a common goal,"says director Basil Khalil, who is now represented by Independent Talent in London.
He further adds, "Initially people thought I was crazy to make a comedy about nuns and Israeli settlers. However,I am so happy the film is travelling to so many places. It's already a huge achievement that this tiny Palestinian movie has been seen by so many people."
"From the very beginning, we wanted to show a different and lighthearted take on what can happen when religions collide in this region," says Eric Dupont, from Incognito Films, the Paris-based production company behind the project. "The film was also an opportunity for us to present a community very rarely shown on screen: the Palestinian Christians", he adds.
AVE MARIA had its world premiere in the official competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015, and continued with a healthy run at more than 50 festivals in over 26 countries, winning 10 awards injust7 months. Distributed in the Arab world by MAD Solutions and by OUAT MEDIA in the rest of the world, the film has sold to a number of broadcasters including French pay-tv Canal+. Deals for TV, VOD and airlines have already been signed for 2016, details of which will be revealed soon.
AVE MARIA and its success is one of the telltale signs that there is a new wave of talent coming from the Arab world who are looking at making films that appeal to an audience beyond the region. There is a new focus on more varied issues, rather than just politics, such as the Emirati thriller Zinzana, and Jordan's short-listed Oscar┬« entry Theeb. These new young filmmakers are stepping onto the international stage to deliver a very powerful message to the world that there is a different voice from the Arab world, an alternative to the negative news people see coming from this region every day.