Lebanese director Ely Dagher’s “Harvest” (see interview here), a drama about a young woman contending with identity issues on returning to Beirut after a long stint abroad, is the standout title in this year’s Final Cut in Venice workshop – part of the Venice Film Festival – which provides post-production support and partnership opportunities to films from Africa and the Arab world.
This debut feature by Dagher – whose short “Waves ‘98” was awarded the short film Palme d’Or at the 68th Cannes Film Festival – investigates the identity on many levels of Jana, a woman in her mid-twenties who returns to Beirut after having failed to succeed in her independent life abroad, according to promotional materials.
The Venice Biennale jury, made up of Marie-Pierre Macia (MPM Film, France), Antonio Medici (BIM Distribuzione, Italy), and Michel Zana (Sophie Dulac Distribution, France), praised “Harvest” for its “original look at the existential questions of the new generation” in Lebanon today. They pointed out that Dhager is “an emerging talent” to watch.
“Considering that the film is still at editing stage, the jury hopes that the director will find the right and necessary length,” they added in their statement.
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Other selected Final Cut works that will also receive different types of support, including free color correction, sound mix, distribution, DCP costs and cash, awarded by a separate jury of supporters are:
– “Soula”: The feature film debut of Algerian director Salah Issaad is about a young single mother, who is rejected by her family and finds herself caught up in a spiral of violence. “Soula” won a total of more than $70,000 in cash prizes, including support from the Amiens International Film Festival and the Fribourg International Film Festival, and a marketing push from Cairo-based outfit Mad Solutions.
– “The Blue Inmates”: A doc by Lebanon’s Zeina Daccache about how mentally ill inmates are treated in Lebanese prisons. Daccache’s previous doc “12 Angry Lebanese,” about the director’s efforts to stage a play with inmates of Beirut’s Roumieh Prison, premiered at the 2009 Dubai film fest. Daccache is the founder of the Catharsis-Lebanese Center for Drama Therapy.
Final Cut in Venice is organized by the Venice Production Bridge – as Venice’s film market is officially called – in collaboration with the Amiens and Fribourg fests. The workshop was held online this year due to coronavirus.