The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) has announced the 9 documentary projects that will receive $245,000 in grants from its first edition of AFAC’s Documentary Program (ADP).

ADP provides financial and professional support to documentary films from the Arab region, with the support of the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms program, and the Open Society Foundations. The 9 new feature-length and short documentary projects – 6 in production and 3 in post-production, selected from: Egypt (1), Tunisia (1), Lebanon (3), Syria (3), and Saudi Arabia (1) – feature established filmmakers as well as a new generation of young filmmakers seeking to shed light on narratives that approach social realities in the Arab world in creative and compelling ways.

ADP’s 2013 jury committee included film experts from different backgrounds and nationalities: Head of Studies at the European Documentary Network (EDN) Mikael Opstrup, manager of the IDFA Bertha Fund Isabel Arrate, producer and curator Habiba Djahnine, and filmmaker and commissioning editor at Al Arabiya News Channel Mohammad Soueid.

Commenting on the selection, the jury issued the following statement: “We tried to seek out projects that hide within their folds the best potential for good films. Looking back, the projects we reviewed reflect on several important realities. It was the stories drawn from our everyday lives that inspired the most interesting projects. There were clear indications for more confidence in the capacity of these filmmakers, hence a deeper cinematic capacity also, to ‘digest’ complex and urgent issues from mature and critical perspectives well within a cinematic language. Convergence between the new generation of filmmakers and those of a previous generation was also noticeable. All this encourages us to have greater faith that, here, within an Arab world torn between ideologies and sectarianisms, the cinematic arena remains the one capable of initiating dialogue.”

AFAC’s Documentary Program, ADP, will run for 3 years, and welcomes, on an annual basis, submissions of feature-length, medium-length and short documentaries in the production and post-production phases.

As with its other programs, AFAC will offer, in addition to the financial support, professional support for selected grantees through workshops, one-on-one meetings with cinema experts and opportunities that bring their directors and producers into film markets and circuit of international film festivals.

The next ADP call for submissions opens in February 2014.

ADP 2013 winning projects:

Projects in production:

  • TadmorMonika Borgmann and Lokman Slim, Lebanon
    Eight Lebanese men recall the painful years they spent in Syrian prisons. As words cannot fully describe the torture, fear and humiliation the men endured, they reenact those experiences to exorcise them from their lives.
  • PrisonRana Eid, Lebanon
    On the surface, Lebanon is energetic and progressive. Underneath this façade, however, stagnation is hindering social and political reform.Prison explores this paradox by examining the symbolism of an infamous underground prison located on the outskirts of central Beirut to understand how Lebanese society has become itself a virtual prison of oppression disguised as a liberal democratic state.
  • A Story of ViolenceDalyah Bakheet, Saudi Arabia
    In a culture of silence, the issue of violence against women has always been closeted in Saudi Arabia. Through this unprecedented effort, victims of domestic violence will break their silence. They will talk candidly of their experiences, the violence committed against them, and the effects it had on them.
  • Ahmed in WonderlandErige Sehiri, Tunisia
    Ahmad, a 30-year-old train driver, recounts to us his desire to become someone else, to escape. Upon leaving the classy neighbourhoods of Tunis, heading towards the Algerian border, we get to know his road companions, his friends lost after the revolution, and a Tunisia facing itself. In the background, the ‘legend’, which railroaders call “The Death Train”, is revealed.
  • Mother of the UnbornNadine Salib Abdelsaed, Egypt
    A dive into the unknown mystical world of Upper Egypt through the journey of an infertile woman named ‘Mother of the Unborn’ who is desperate to have the awaited child. Hanan allows us to accompany her in her voyage to conceive and through this trip the film meditates on the notions of life and death.
  • Taste of RevolutionMaya AlKhoury, Syria
    A young filmmaker seeks to experience the taste of the revolution as she follows a group of activists fighting for freedom in Syria who are either in hiding or in exile. She shares the lives of these young people and is nurtured by their struggle for freedom as she conceives her first film.

Projects in post-production:

  • The Immortal SergeantZiad Kalthoum, Syria
    After he completed his mandatory military service, the filmmaker was ordered to remain as the revolution unfurled in his country. His military rank was that of a sergeant. During these times, he would go back to his home, located in the middle of Damascus city, take off his military uniform and return to his normal life, working as an assistant director with his friend, the filmmaker Mohammed Malas. To make sense of this schizophrenic situation, he decides to take his camera and start shooting a ‘making-of’ that will eventually go beyond Malas’ film.
  • Silvered WaterOssama Mohammad, Syria
    The audio re-mastering and screening of his critical Syrian film Stars in Broad Daylight for the ArteEast Festival held at the Museum of Modern Arts in New York.
  • NeshamaRami Nihawi, Lebanon 
    The film tells the story of young Syrian musicians who worked on the recording and re-distribution of songs that were popularly chanted by revolutionaries against the Syrian regime. The film follows the evolution of their music project from the very beginning up until the final version of the album, living through all technical, political and security difficulties that the musicians encountered.