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Press Release: Palestine Cinema Days Announces the Sunbird Award Jury Members





Ramallah – The festival Palestine Cinema Days, organised by Filmlab: Palestine, is pleased to announce the members of the three Sunbird Award juries.

For the third year in a row, the festival hosts the Sunbird Award competitions, dedicated to Palestinian films or films related to Palestine, made by local, Arab, and international filmmakers. The three juries will choose the three winning films in the three competitions: the Sunbird Short Film Award, the Sunbird Documentary Award, and the Sunbird Production Award. The winners will be announced during the festival’s closing ceremony on October 23, 2018 at Ramallah Cultural Palace.

More than 60 films were submitted, 22 of which were selected to participate in the competitions, including 4 feature documentaries, 13 short films, and 5 projects. The films come not only from Palestine, but also from a number of different countries including the Arab world.

Artistic Director Hanna Atallah stated that, “we have always chosen people active within the international, Arab, and local film scene to participate in this unique competition. This year, we are very happy to welcome nine prominent professionals from all fields of the film industry as jury members of the Sunbird Award competitions.” He added that, “through this competition, we aim to motivate filmmakers, wherever they may be, to produce films about Palestine or in Palestine. We also aspire to render the competitions a primary platform for the presentation of films about Palestine to which our audience has not yet been introduced or has not had the chance to see yet”.

The Sunbird Documentary Award jury includes Egyptian-German Viola Shafik, Dr. Phil., a film scholar, curator, and filmmaker. She is the Berlinale delegate for the Arab world. Palestinian filmmaker Mai Masri studied film at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University, and directed and produced several films that were screened worldwide and won numerous awards. Veton Nurkollari is the Artistic Director of DokuFest, Kosovo’s largest documentary and short film festival, which he co-founded in 2002. He is also the curator of DokuPhoto, an annual showcase of documentary photography that runs alongside the film festival.

The Sunbird Short Film Award jury includes New York-based Lebanese-American writer and film director Darine Hotait. She is the founder of the incubator project Cinephilia Productions in New York. Her short films have screened at numerous international film festivals and received multiple awards. Marc Boonen is the Artistic Director of MOOV BENELUX since 1992 and selects films from around the world for MOOV FILM FESTIVAL and MOOV DISTRIBUTION. Marc Boonen is a commission member of the Flemish Audiovisual Fund. Kamal Aljafari’s films have screened at film festivals including Locarno, Toronto, and Rotterdam, as well as museums including the Tate Modern and MoMA. He was a featured artist at the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar and the Benjamin White Whitney Fellow at Harvard University. He taught film at the New School in New York City, and was a senior lecturer and head of the directing program for the German Film and Television Academy (DFFB) in Berlin.

The Sunbird Production Award jury includes the French Georges Bollon, who studied history at Clermont-Ferrand University where he was involved in the Cineclub. In 1979, he created with other students the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival which is now the world’s most important event in the short film circuit. Abdallah Alshami is a Lebanese national who was born and raised in Abu Dhabi. He is a Multimedia and Graphic Design graduate from the American University of Sharjah. Currently, Abdallah is the Managing Partner at MAD Solutions. Director and writer Aage Rais, who taught literature at Aarhus University while working on short and feature independent films. Currently, he is Head of Aarhus Filmworkshop, where he promotes and develops cinematic talents across western Denmark. 

As part of an initiative to support film production in Palestine, the festival management has for the first time decided to sell screening tickets at 20 NIS each. The proceeds will go towards funding next year’s Sunbird Production Award. This initiative grants the Palestinian public the opportunity to directly contribute to a Palestinian film production. Moreover, part of the proceeds will go towards providing the audience in Ramallah with transportation from Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center to Ramallah Cultural Palace for both the opening and closing nights in order to encourage attendance and facilitate accessibility.

The fifth edition of Palestine Cinema Days will take place from October 17-23, 2018 in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus, and Gaza. This year’s festival will be dedicated to presenting strong, independent, and diverse cinematic voices from Palestine and around the world.

Filmlab: Palestine encourages the public to follow the Palestine Cinema Days program and events by checking the festival website and the festival’s social media on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.