The Amman International Film Festival-Awal Film (AIFF) is scheduled to kick off on Sunday with a focus on debut achievements in the movie industry across the world, according to the organisers.
The festival seeks to turn spotlight on the works that “manifest artistic boldness, strength of form and originality in the use of the medium of film”.
Speaking about her feature-length narrative “Between Heaven And Earth” to be screened at the festival, writer and director Najwa Najjar, said that the idea for the movie came during a “long conversation” she had with the owner of a falafil joint in Haifa some two-and-a-half years ago.
The man told her that his son refused to accept a film scholarship in the UK because he is one of “the guardians of Iqrit [a destroyed Palestinian village]”.
“I was a bit embarrassed that I did not know where Iqrit is. I checked it on Google Maps and it was not there,” she expressed.
“I went there and heard all the erased stories and that’s where everything started,” according to Najjar.
“The villagers told us all about Iqrit. How their parents watched the destruction of the village and how they then raised their case to the Israeli high court in 1952 and how they won the right of return,” according to Najjar.
However, being not allowed to implement the court decision, they have to remain in the village so it would not be confiscated, Najjar said.
Wondering about a narrative Najjar started to conjure up a story of a couple in their 30s going through a divorce after having irreconcilable differences.
“Between Heaven And Earth” is about divorce, occupation and people who are forgotten in historic Palestine, she said.
Due to financial limitations, the movie crew had to wrap up the shooting in 24 days, she said, adding that faced many difficulties in getting permits from the Israeli authorities.
For May Al Ghouti, her short social commentary “Huda” talks about “Arab women who face oppression and girls who are forced into early marriage”.
The movie industry helps in spreading awareness about timely topics such as marriage and oppression of women, Ghouti told The Jordan Times.
“Women need to support other women, because it has an incredible impact,” she added.
Sharing the challenges of hosting a film festival amid a pandemic, AIFF Director Nada Doumani said that the festival was initially scheduled for April 13.
“Unfortunately the pandemic hit in March when we were almost done with everything,” Doumani
Due to the coronavirus crisis, the organisers had to shift to drive-in cinema, she noted.
Furthermore, the small size of the crew and difficulties in hosting a physically distanced version of the festival were also among the challenges.
“What makes this festival special is that it is one of the first physical festivals amid the pandemic,” she added.