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Egyptian and Palestinian Creatives Swept the Critics’ Awards for Arab Films at Cannes

A still from Feathers

Director Omar El Zohairy’s Feathers has won big at the Cannes Film Festival in a proud moment for Egyptian cinema. The absurdist social satire was nominated for four categories at the Critics’ Awards for Arab Films on Sunday, out of which it won three: best film, director, and screenplay.

A still from Feathers

Organized by Cairo’s Arab Cinema Centre, the awards saw Feathers voted on by 167 film critics from 68 countries, who viewed the films on Festival Scope. The film marks El Zohairy’s debut feature, and also bagged last year’s Cannes Critics’ Week prize where the jury was presided over by Romanian Palme d’Or winner Cristian Mungiu. It took six years for the film to get to the big screens, and was subjected to negative feedback after its screening at El Gouna Film Festival due to allegedly portraying Egypt in a negative light. The plot follows a family with a mother, her three kids, and an authoritarian husband who gets turned into a chicken by a magician during a children’s birthday party.

Maisa Abd Elhadi in Huda’s Salon

Other winners at the awards include Palestinian actor Maisa Abd Elhadi for her performance in the Hany Abu-Assad’s stirring film Huda’s Salon set in Bethlehem, and Palestinian actor Ali Suliman, who won the best actor award for Amira, the West Bank-set drama by Egyptian director Mohamed Diab. The award for best documentary went to Little Palestine, Diary Of A Siege by Syrian-born Palestinian filmmaker Abdallah Al-Khatib, which explores life in Yarmouk’s Palestinian refugee camp after it came under a deadly siege at the height of Syria’s civil conflict.

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