Moroccan Leila Kilani’s feature debut “On the Plank” won the San Sebastian Film Festival’s prestigious Cinema in Motion prize on Monday.
The sidebar showcases roughcuts from the Maghreb and emerging Arab regions.
Sales agents attending the screenings included Match Factory, Elle Driver, MK2, Latido and Shoreline Entertainment.
In addition to international visibility, the Cinema in Motion award provides completion financing for post-production including two 35mm English-subtitled prints and €15,000 ($19,000) for sound mixing from Paris’ Mactari.
Kilani, one of Morocco’s most acclaimed femme documentary filmmakers, screened 45 minutes of “Plank” at San Sebastian. The film is based on her own research and follows what she calls “four crazy girls in contemporary Morocco” who converse using a “rap-style” dialect and flirt with petty crime.
The gritty docu-style feature aims to show how cosmopolitan and rebellious young Moroccan girls can be, Kilani added.
The Cinema in Motion jury awarded a special prize to “House for Sale” by brothers Atia and Mohamed Al-Daradji.
Mohamed Al-Daradji won the sidebar last year with “In the Sands of Babylon” but never used the award.
The jury announced that, given “Sale’s” quality, it was re-awarding the kudos — $19,000 from Mactari and one 35mm print.
The docu explores the perilous conditions of a crowded orphanage in Baghdad and is a wakeup call about Iraq’s thousands of orphans, a legacy of multiple wars and two occupations, the Al-Daradji brothers said.
There was also good buzz on Jordanian-Dutch co-production “This is My Picture When I was Dead,” by Palestinian-Jordanian director Mahmoud Al Massad.
“I tried to push forward the boundaries of documentary filmmaking with this film,” declared Al Massad, who used fiction-style lensing and editing to imagine the future of a four-year-old boy who died in the assassination of his PLO lieutenant father 25 years ago.
Al Massad won Cinema in Motion in 2007 with his documentary “Recycle,” which later played Sundance.
Like “Plank” and “Dead,” the fourth Cinema in Motion film also traced a personal odyssey in the fast-changing Arab world.
Kurdish-American director Jano Rosebiani’s “Chaplin of the Mountains” follows a young French-Kurdish woman in search of the destroyed Kurdish village from which her mother was deported. “I tried to show the beauty of the land and the scars lying beneath,” explained Rosebiani.
Emilio Mayorga and John Hopewell contributed to this report.