This award marks the beginning of several initiatives that Asharq Documentary has in store to acknowledge and incentivize filmmaking talent, demonstrating its commitment to bolstering the regional film industry.
Asharq Documentary, the recently unveiled Arabic free-to-air factual documentary channel under SRMG, has introduced the inaugural edition of its ‘Asharq Documentary Award’, during the award ceremony of the third Red Sea International Film Festival (Red Sea IFF), hosted at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Jeddah.
The ‘Asharq Documentary Award’ underscores the channel’s commitment to bolstering the filmmaking industry and nurturing emerging talent in the MENA region. Aligned with the channel’s mission to provide a platform for creators to showcase their stories and productions, the award signifies a significant initiative, especially in light of the channel’s plans to offer in-house produced content alongside licensed and acquired materials.
In its first year, the ‘Asharq Documentary Award’ featured a selection of eight films, spotlighting the talents of documentary filmmakers from diverse corners of the globe. Among the entries were three Iraqi films: Hiding Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s Invisible Beauty, and The Dalkurd Story; Four Daughters from Tunisia; The Mother of All Lies from Morocco; Donga from Libya; Copa 71 from the United Kingdom; and In the Shadow of Beirut from Ireland.
The coveted award was clinched by Four Daughters, directed by Tunisian filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania. The winning film delves into a narrative of pain and its profound impact on a mother and her four daughters in a society grappling with the repercussions of extremism and terrorism. Ben Haniyeh employs a modern cinematic style, seamlessly blending reality with fiction, drawing inspiration from a true story to craft a compelling and poignant narrative.
Mohammed Al Yousei, General Manager of Asharq Documentary, said: “We are pleased to present the Asharq Documentary Award for the first time at the third edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival. This award marks the beginning of several initiatives we have planned to recognise and reward filmmaking talent, while supporting the regional film industry. A defining aspect of Asharq Documentary is its dedicated, in-house production capabilities, offering exclusive access to regional documentary films for our audiences.”
Shivani Pandya Malhotra, Managing Director of Red Sea International Film Festival stated that the launch of the Asharq Documentary Award during the third edition of the festival is an important addition to the awards, as both organisations share the same objective of empowering the art of storytelling and supporting the filmmaking industry.
Commenting on the winning film, Pandya added: “I congratulate the Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania on winning this award in its inaugural year, particularly as we celebrate creative women in film directing, acting, and writing in this edition.”