Homeland (Iraq Year Zero) by Abbas Fahdel has won the Doc Alliance Selection Award. The winning film is composed of two parts – the first was shot before the US army’s invasion of Iraq while the second part captures the post-war events – providing an essential report on the turning point in the country’s development. Instead of shorthand news features on the events in Iraq, it brings an impressive portrayal of life in the country. Director Fahdel received the award at the Locarno film festival.
Homeland (Iraq Year Zero) by Abbas Fahdel shows the impact of war events on Iraqi citizens. Divided into two parts, the film takes a look at the life of Iraqi people before and after the invasion of US troops. “Homeland is a masterfully shot and composed family chronicle that gives us an idea of the difficult life under dictatorship and occupation of a family that seeks nothing else than normality,” said the jury in its statement.
“The norms and values in my country have been turned upside down,” said Abbas Fahdel, who is currently living in French exile, describing his feelings about his homeland. “What would have become of me, if I had stayed in Iraq? These were the questions I asked myself with a bit of a frantic and insatiable curiosity,” he added. His film first emerged victorious in the international competition at the Swiss Visions du Réel festival, and has now also managed to scoop the Doc Alliance Selection Award. Homeland (Iraq Year Zero) was chosen by the jury from among 7 nominees portraying, for example, life on Borneo, in Ukraine or in Serbia, as well as the tumultuous events in Egypt in 2011. “Although we watched 3,700 films over the year, this exceptional documentary immediately grabbed our attention for the 2015 edition. This is a work of reference to understand the history and current affairs in the Middle East. This is more than a beautiful film, it is an essential film. It had to be made and it must be seen,” said the director of Visions du Réel, Luciano Barisone, commenting on the winning film.
Read the full interview with director Abbas Fahdel, the author of the winning film.
Since 2008, Doc Alliance Selection Award has annually been presented by an alliance of seven documentary film festivals CPH:DOX, Docs Against Gravity FF, Doclisboa, DOK Leipzig, FID Marseille, Jihlava IDFF and Visions du Réel. Each of the participating festivals nominates one candidate. Together with the online documentary portal, DAFilms.cz, the award is a key project of the association whose main aim is to promote collaboration among documentary film festivals.
The jury of Doc Alliance Selection Award’s eighth edition that selected this year’s winner was composed of Christian Jungen – Swiss critic contributing to Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Piotr Czerkawski – independent Polish journalist, Dorthe Hygum Sørensen – Danish film critic, Jorge Mourinha – Portuguese representative of Publico daily, Annette Walter – German culture reporter, Philippe Azoury – laureate of the Prix Philippe Arnaud, and Czech film critic Tomáš Stejskal. Christian Jungen commented on the jury’s decision: “While war is looming in the background director Abbas Fahdel shows us how a family is moving closer but is also slowly torn apart. Homeland is a masterfully shot and composed family chronicle that gives us an idea of the difficult life under dictatorship and occupation of a family that seeks nothing else than normality.”
The winner was announced on Saturday, August 8, 2015 at the Locarno film festival in the presence of directors of film festivals associated with Doc Alliance, the jury members and film professionals. The winner received a financial prize of 5,000 EUR that is primarily intended to promote the author’s future filmmaking career.
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