Two Middle Eastern films have won awards at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). First-time filmmaker Oualid Mouaness’s 1982 received the Netpac award after its world premiere at TIFF while Oscar-nominated-director Feras Fayyad’s The Cave bagged the Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award.
The film 1982 is shot in the outskirts of Beirut, in a private school, which takes the audience back to the time when Lebanon was being invaded by Israel. The story surrounds an 11-year old boy, Wissam, who has feelings for his classmate Joanna. But before he can confess his feelings, Beirut gets torn apart by airstrikes and everything suddenly changes. According to a statement posted on the festival’s website, the film was chosen “for its adventurous, imaginative style and subtle, confident filmmaking, bravely juxtaposing and framing the universal innocence and charm of youth within harrowing historical context.”
It showcases Lebanese actress-turned-filmmaker Nadine Labaki, and actor Mohammed Dalli, who aim to project the experiences Mouaness went through during his childhood period when the invasion of Lebanon had begun at that time of the year.
With The Cave, documentary filmmaker Fayyad, returns back to his homeland, Syria. The film tells the story of a team of female doctors who treat casualties in an underground hospital while fighting against systematic sexism. The eye-opening drama sheds light on the importance of female doctors during war and their contribution to the on-going crisis in Syria.
The Cave, which also had its world premiere at TIFF, was filmed between 2016 and 2018 and has not only been picked up by NatGeo in the US for a theatrical and TV release but is also currently being considered for the Oscars.