Palestinian filmmaker Annemarie Jacir’s Gaza-set drama “The Oblivion Theory” has won the top prize at the Berlinale Co-Production Market.
Presented by Paris-based Incognito Films and Berlin’s One Two Films, the film is based on José Eduardo Agualusa’s novel “A General Theory of Oblivion,” although the book’s story has been moved from Angola to Palestine during the First Intifada, the sustained protests by Palestinians against Israel occupation that lasted from 1987 to 1993.
The film centers on an American woman who accidentally gets stuck in an apartment in Gaza at the outbreak of the protests, becoming an unlikely witness and survivor in a country in the midst of massive upheaval.
“Forever etched in my psyche, the First Intifada marked my life and changed me forever,” said Jacir, who last year served on the Berlinale Competition jury. “‘The Oblivion Theory’ describes a very different experience of that time in my country’s story. I believe it is through personal stories where one is close to the characters, in all their beauty and flaws, that we can be most honest in asking the true meaning of our lives.”
U.K.-based writer Olivia Hetreed (“Finding Altamira,” “Girl With a Pearl Earring”) and award-winning French DOP Hélène Louvart (“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”) round out the project’s strong female creative team.
“The Oblivion Theory” is set up as a French-German co-production, overseen by Incognito Film’s Eric Dupont and One Two Film’s Fred Burle.
“The EFM is going extremely well,“ said Dupont. “The project is getting a lot of traction. We have a very full meeting calendar and it’s wonderful to feel the market’s appetite for this extraordinary project. It feels great to be moving forward.”
The team is looking to cast an A-list actress in the lead role. “I can already imagine the face of an actress, a face marked by history and pain, but also somehow child-like,” said Jacir.
The Eurimages Co-Production Development Award is endowed with a cash prize of €20,000 ($24,000).
(Pictured: Fred Burle, Annemarie Jacir, Eric Dupont)