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Karama Yemen Human Rights Film Festival Press Release

December 17, 2020

Karama Human Rights Film Festival launches its 2nd edition

  • 33 Films from 16 countries
  • 14 Yemeni Films
  • 12 Female Filmmakers

The Karama Yemen Human Rights Film Festival presented by YWT Org is back with a virtual format in its 2nd edition this year from 18- 31 December 2020.

This year the festival will uphold principles of social justice under the slogan “Our World”.  The Theme is related to the concept of the future world that every Yemeni youth wants with advance human rights, where justice and equity are the cornerstones of everything in society. Human rights and social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence. The festival is an international cinematic event that centers around the discourse of Human Rights and the imagination of a future driven by the dreams and needs of today’s youth.

The festival will host “Karama Talks” a series of virtual discussions and workshops with filmmakers and industry specialists to further enrich the conversation around the art and business of storytelling. “Karama Talks” comes as an important additional step to make the festival a platform for the youth, it is focused on building a network of artists discussing their growth and impact in the field.

This year the program boasts 33 international short films from 16 countries around the globe with categories ranging from fiction, documentary, and animation. The curated program of short films will include programs themed within Made in YemenStill, I Rise, About a Child, and Life in Conflict. These film packages can be viewed through from anywhere in the world further inviting everyone to access stories from Yemen made by Yemenis and international filmmakers.

In efforts to enhance the level of storytelling in Yemen, YWT is proud to have supported 8 Yemeni films through its mentorship and grant production program.  Delivering inspirational stories of strength and courage using powerfully creative narratives, the selected films will be assessed across 4 distinct jury categories in competition for the Barran Award within best fiction, documentary, animation, and  Yemeni short films.

Joining the jury this year are our esteemed members in the following categories

Barran Award for Best Yemeni Film

Bader Ben Hirsi is a British-Yemeni playwright and director with numerous successes at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and at London Fringe theatres.

After studying for an MA in Drama Production at Goldsmiths College, London University, Bader turned his attention to projects promoting a different image of the Arab World with his first award-winning feature documentary The English Sheikh & The Yemeni Gentleman generating great international appeal. Soon after, he went on to write and direct Yemen’s first-ever feature film, A New Day In Old Sana’a, which again won a dearth of accolades, awards, and global recognition. Bader is co-producer of the multi-award-winning Iraqi film Son of Babylon and is currently working on his next feature film The Garden of Aden.

Alia Ali is a Yemeni-Bosnian-US multi-media artist. Having traveled to sixty-seven countries, and grown-up among five languages, her most comfortable mode of communication is through photography, video, and installation. Her travels have led her to process the world through interactive experiences and the belief that the damage of translation and interpretation of written language has dis-served particular communities, resulting in the threat of their exclusion, rather than a means of understanding. Alia’s work reflects on the politics of contested notions of linguistics, identity, borders, universality, colonization, mental/physical confinement, and the inherent dualism that exists in each of them.

Her work has been featured in the Financial Times, Le Monde, Vogue, and Hyperallergic. Alia has won numerous awards and has exhibited internationally.  Alia’s studios are based in Los Angeles and Marrakech, and she is currently in residency at the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program (RAiR) in Roswell, New Mexico.

Mats Grorud is a film director and animator from Norway. In the early 2000s, Mats studied at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon while working and living in the Palestinian refugee camp Burj el Barjaneh. Based on the testimonies of the refugees and his own experiences, Mats wrote the script and animated his animated feature film, “The Tower” which has been screened all over the world and won several prizes.

Barran Award for Best Documentary Film

Róisín Tapponi is an Iraqi-Irish curator, film programmer, researcher, archivist, and writer. She is the founder and programmer of Habibi Collective. Tapponi has curated six regional film festivals including Independent Iraqi Film Festival (IIFF). She has curated screenings at international institutions such as Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) and has lectured on cinema at many academic institutions, including Oxford University, Duke University, UC Berkeley, and Northwestern University.

Tapponi is currently a contributor at Frieze Magazine and has worked as a journalist for seven years, contributing to publications such as The Guardian, Vogue, and i-D. She is also the founder and editor of ARTWORK Magazine, a critical art magazine for cultural workers operating on the margins. Independent Iraqi Film Festival (IIFF)

Lila Nazemian is an independent curator and the Special Projects Curator at ArteEast in New York.  Recent and forthcoming curatorial projects include: “Now That We Have Established a Common Ground” opening in February 2021 in collaboration with Assembly Room, New York; “I open my eyes and see myself under a tree laden with fruit that I cannot name” organized at New York’s Center for Book Arts in January 2020; the “On Echoes of Invisible Hearts” series of location-specific exhibitions featuring contemporary artists from Yemen and the Diaspora, the first took place in October 2018 at Berlin’s Poetry Project, and the second edition opened at Station Beirut in April 2019; and “Spheres of Influence,” which opened at Tehran’s Mohsen Gallery in April 2016. In 2017, she was the U.S. Projects Director at CULTURUNNERS.

She received a B.A. in History from Scripps College, California; and an M.A. in Near Eastern Studies from N.Y.U., New York. She will be participating in the International Curator in Residence program at Doha’s Fire Station this Winter 2021.

Majid Al-Remaihi is a filmmaker, artist, and programmer originally from Doha, Qatar. He is a Film Programming Coordinator at the Doha Film Institute. He directed his first short film, Domestic Acoustics (2017) through the Doha Film Institute’s Documentary Lab. Currently, he’s in post-production with his film And then they burn the sea (2021) which he produced under the mentorship of director Rithy Panh and the support of the Qatari Film Fund.

Barran Award for Best Fiction Film 

Louise Heem is an actress and director. Quadrilingual interpreter in French, English, Spanish, and Italian , she learns various dialects of the Arabic Language.

Former language teacher and protection officer in charge of the instruction of asylum requests, Louise has lived in about 50 countries and spent some time as a volunteer in refugee camps. She started her career in theatre in 2007, and in film in 2011. She took part in international productions in France, Germany, Iran, and Palestine.

In 2016, El día de la virgen, her first short-film as screenwriter and director where she played the main role of Sarah was screened for its Première during Gaza Red Carpet Human Rights Film Festival. The movie was screened in 32 countries and rewarded in 4 festivals. In 2020, she finished Juan, her first feature documentary shot in France and Paraguay, and filmed Corona Paris/Gaza during her first confinement.

Nawar Al Qassimi, Vice President of Sharjah Art Foundation, joined the organization in 2010 to increase audience engagement, and she later led the Foundation’s development department. In her current capacity, she supports Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, in strengthening the Foundation’s role as a catalyst and advocate for the arts in Sharjah, UAE; in the region; and around the world, and she is responsible for the Foundation’s strategic planning. Al Qassimi is a member of the Sharjah Tourism Advisory Committee. She graduated from the American University of Sharjah with a degree in communications and advertising.

Reem Saleh studied film at the Lebanese American University in Beirut. She began her career as a stage and film actress and worked for 11 years in TV on various aspects of content creation and executive director for TV documentaries in the region.

Most recently Reem released her first feature independent documentary “What Comes Around” shot over a period of 6 years in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Cairo, Rod El Farag. The film received international acclaim after its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in 2018 and has been touring the world since. For 7 years Reem worked for the Doha Film Institute and headed the creative team of the Ajyal Film Festival for 5 years as Deputy director. She often contributes to supporting film organizations including moderating film talks and press conferences for the Berlin Film Festival. For the last few years, Reem worked as External Relations Officer with The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi before joining The Arts Center team as Associate Director of External Relations.

Barran Award for Best Animation Film

Luciana Ceccatto Farah is a visual artist and filmmaker based in Doha, Qatar. She majored in Sculpture at the Escola de Belas Artes do Paraná, in her native Brazil, and Communications at Vesalius College in Brussels, Belgium. She managed art galleries and private art collections in Brazil, Bahrain, and Qatar, and was responsible for the Arts and Culture Program of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Bid. Her first feature documentary, ‘Somebody Clap for Me’ (2017), screened at over 20 festivals worldwide and won Best Documentary at the Festival International du Film Pan Africain de Cannes and at the Cameroon International Film Festival. Her 2018 stop motion animation ” Oh Uganda!” screened at the London Short Film Festival, at the Athens Independent Political Activism Short Film Festival, and received a special mention at the Los Angeles FEEDBACK Animation Film Festival. She taught “Stop Motion Animation and Political Satire” workshops in East Africa in 2018. In 2019, she was a Resident Artist at Maktaba Children’s Library in Doha, Qatar. Her latest film, ‘One in 50 million’ (2018), a short documentary, is currently being screened at film festivals.

Mina Takla brings over 10 years of experience in the media, gaming, and film sectors with deep knowledge of both art-house and commercial cinema. Having worked in film marketing for over a decade, he has helped shape digital strategies for several Oscar-nominated, shortlisted, and officially submitted films including Capernaum, The Insult, Yomeddine, and others, as well as leading digital marketing campaigns for the Dubai International Film Festival.

He has reviewed films from over 10 film festivals including the Cannes, Venice, BFI London، Annecy Film Festivals, Dubai International Film Festival, and Abu Dhabi Film Festival. Takla is a champion of foreign language cinema and considers Awards Watch as a major platform to highlight under-seen foreign gems that deserve recognition and celebration. In addition to being an Awards Watch reviewer, he is also AW’s Foreign Language correspondent with a focus on the annual Best International Feature Oscar race.

Yasmine Nasser Diaz is a multidisciplinary visual artist whose practice navigates overlapping tensions around religion, gender, and third-culture identity. Her recent work includes immersive installation, fiber etching, and mixed media collage using personal archives and found imagery. Diaz is a recipient of the California Community Foundation Visual Artist Fellowship and her work is included in the collections of LACMA, UCLA, and the Arab American National Museum. She lives and works in Los Angeles.

2020 Karma Yemen Human Rights Film Festival is funded by the European Union delegation to Yemen, in partnership with National Endowment for Democracy. Friends of the festival include Karama Film Festival, ANHAR Network& Ma3mal 612 Think Factory.

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