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The Dream of Shahrazad Is a Full House at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London

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Only a Few Days after Reaping the Best Film Award at Luxor African Film Festival

The Dream of Shahrazad Is a Full House at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London


Only a few days after winning the Best Film Award at the Luxor African Film Festival The Dream of Shahrazad screens to a sold out audience the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London. Francois Verster's The Dream of Shahrazad dazzled the audience who flocked to the London-based Curzon Soho cinema. The film screened with the attendance of its director Francois Verster and producer Wael Omar on Tuesday, March 24th, 2015, and will have another screening on Thursday, March 26th, 2015. Presenting a tightly curated 15 films, the festival brings to life human rights abuses through storytelling.

This comes only a few days after receiving the first award at 4th Luxor African Film Festival (LAFF), which hosted the film's MENA premiere, and where The Dream of Shahrazad won the Al-Husseini Abou-Deif Prize for Best Freedom Film on Saturday, March 21st, 2015, as well as winning the Golden Mask of Tutankhmen in collaboration with ARTWATCH Africa

Francois Verster's documentary, The Dream of Shahrazad, had its World Premiere in the highly-esteemed Masters section of the 27th International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) last November.

The Dream of Shahrazad traces the developments of the past years concerning the political and social changes in Egypt and Turkey in a new and captivating way. Greatly inspired by the fabled story collection of 1001 Nights (also known as the Arabian Nights), the film analyzes and merges music with political content and deploys the illustrious character of Shahrazad as a metaphor to explore how creativity and political articulation can coincide as a sharp weapon against oppression. The film features an array of individuals from different backgrounds including a Turkish youth orchestra conductor who uses Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade suite as a tool for political education; a young Lebanese actress who reconciles her past by becoming an internet activist in Egypt; an older visual artist who finds his "dream of Shahrazad" in the appearance of a beautiful young storyteller; and an Alexandrian storyteller who meets with the mothers of martyrs of the Revolution and turns their testimonies into new storytelling performances.

Development on the film started in 2006 and filming took place over the course of two years- between 2010 and 2012 - before, during and after the Arab Spring.

The Dream of Shahrazad was largely self-funded and further funding contributions were received from the South African National Film & Video Foundation, the IDFA/Bertha Fund, the Sundance Documentary Fund, Spier Films, the CBA Worldview Fund, the Netherlands Film Fund, the European Union and Afri Docs.

Produced by Verster along with producers Wael Omar of Middle West Films Shameela Seedat of Undercurrent Film and Television; and his long time production partner Neil Brandt of Fireworx Media, the film was also co-produced by co-produced by Fleur Knopperts and Denis Vaslin of Volya Films (Netherlands); Lucas Rosant of Melia Films (France); Serene Huleileh and Reem Abu Kishek of the Hakaya Regional Network (Jordan).

Francois Verster is an Emmy-award winning documentary filmmaker with an extensively know-how background in the fields of literature, music and cinema. Born in 1969 in South Africa, Verster holds a Master's Degree in Literature from the University of Cape Town. He then took part in a number of independent feature-length film productions before making his documentary debut, both as a director and a producer, Pavement Aristocrats (1998), which received an Avanti Award. Verster's extensive repertoire further includes A Lion's Trail (2002); received the Emmy Award in 2006, When The War is Over (2002), The Mothers' House (2006) and Sea Point Days (2009(.