SAN SEBASTIAN — “The Last Friday,” from Lebanon-born Yahya Alabdallah took the top honors at an upbeat 7th Cinema in Motion hosted by the San Sebastian Film Festival.
The showcase grants prizes in post-production aid and coin to filmmakers from the Maghreb, Portuguese-speaking African countries and developing Arab territories.
First-timer Alabdallah offered a black comedy about a fortysomething divorced Jordanian man who loses his job, and will lose a testicle if he doesn’t find money for surgery.
“Friday” won €15,000 ($20,000) from Paris’ Mactari mixing auditorium, $6,800 in post-prod aid from France’s CNC, €3,400 for subtitling in French or English from Titra TVS and a 35mm print from Switzerland’s Fribourg Fest.
“I’m interested in exploring tiny details that enable us to laugh at reality –laugh at our own small disasters,” Alabdallah told Variety, mentioning Buster Keaton, Jacques Tati, and Palestinian director Elia Suleiman as inspirations.
“Confession and Struggle” nabbed $6,800 for post production from the Dubai fest and a 35mm print from France’s Amiens festival. Helmed by Lebanon-born Eliane Raheb “Struggle” is a docu about the legacy of the Lebanon Civil War confronting a former Secret Services member seeking redemption and the mother of one of his victims.
Showcase also included Lebanese husband-and-wife filmmaking team Khalil Joreige and Joana Hadjithomas’ docu “Une Fusee dans le ciel,” about the 1960s Lebanese space program, plus the sophomore directorial effort from Palestinian Annemarie Jacir, “When I Saw You,” a coming-of-ager about a 11-year-old kid growing up in a military environment.
Several months after the Arab Spring, titles displayed a sense of humor that was less present in previous editions.
Martin Dale contributed to this article.