Keblawi is also a founder of Arab Cinema in Sweden, a company that distributes Arab films in Sweden.
Arab Cinema Centre has granted the Arab Cinema Personality of the Year award to Mohamed Keblawi, Founder and Head of the Malmö Arab Film Festival in Sweden, during the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale).
This comes in recognition of his contribution and immense support to Arab Cinema through the festival, which aims to promote Arab cinema in Sweden and Scandinavia.
Keblawi is a Swedish-Palestinian director and producer who has worked in television and documentary film production. In 2011, he founded the Malmö Arab Film Festival in Sweden, which was established to encourage Arab filmmakers to find more opportunities to tell their stories and support Arab film projects.
The festival screened hundreds of Arab films since its establishment, including Director Naji Abu Nowar’s Jordanian film Theeb, Kaouther Ben Hania’s Tunisian film The Man Who Sold His Skin, and Palestinian short film The Present by Farah Nabulsi — all of which were nominated for an Oscar.
Keblawi also launched the MAFF Market Forum as part of the festival to support Arab film projects and help them come to light.
During its latest edition, the forum presented monetary prizes worth $250,000. Ever since it was created, the annual prize supported almost 100 projects, including Mounia Akl’s Costa Brava, Kaouther Ben Hania’s Beauty and the Dogs, Ali Al-Arabi’s Captains of Zaatari, Ameen Nayfeh’s 200 Metres, Maysoon Pachachi’s Our River…Our Sky, Nejib Belkadhi’s Communion, Marwa Zein’s Khartoum Offside, and Dina Naser’s Tiny Souls.
Keblawi is also the founder of Arab Cinema in Sweden — a company that works on the distribution of Arab films in Sweden. These films include Mohamed Jabarah Al-Daradji’s Jordanian film The Journey’, Sophie Boutros’ Lebanese film Solitaire, Mohamed Khan’s Egyptian film Factory Girl, and Khadija Al-Salami’s Yemeni film I Am Nojoom, Age 10, and Divorced.
Most recently, Keblawi received the City of Malmö’s Grant for Art and Culture for the year 2021. This is an annual grant allocated to twelve creators in the fields of music, theatre, cinema, and literature. From 2015 to 2017, he was a member of the documentary film nomination committee for the Guldbagge Awards, which is considered Sweden’s version of the Oscars.
Speaking about this years’ award, Alaa Karkouti and Maher Diab, the Co-founders of Arab Cinema Centre, said: “What Keblawi did by establishing the main venue for Arab cinema in Sweden is certainly a first-of-its-kind. Through which, thanks to his tireless efforts, he was able to develop a platform for filmmakers in Sweden and Europe, and so Arab filmmakers became quite familiar faces in Sweden. He was able to create an exceptional fan base for a festival that caters for Arab films in Europe. We are honoured to grant him the prize, as he continues to expand his horizons each year, whether through the festival or his distribution and production firms.”
Keblawi added: “The prize crowns many years of hard work to try to grant Arab films a chance to be acknowledged in places that they have never been before. Things like the release of an Arab picture in Swedish theatres or Sweden’s funding of an Arab film were fictitious at the beginning of the millennium, this is an achievement which I am proud of. I’d like to thank everyone who helped me reach my goal. I’d also like to thank the Arab Cinema Centre for this award, which I’m very proud of.”