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Two Middle Eastern Films have Won Awards at the 76th Venice Film Festival

A still from Scales. Courtesy of Image Nation Abu Dhabi

From designers to filmmakers and actors, this year’s edition of the Venice Film Festival has proven to be a great one for regional talent. Not only did Arab designers rule the red carpet this year, but also awards were taken home for movies created by Arab directors and producers.

A fantasy film made in UAE titled Scales (Sayidat Al Bahr in Arabic) won the Verona Film Club Award at the Venice Film Festival. Created by Image Nation Abu Dhabi and directed by Saudi-Arabian filmmaker Shahad Ameen, Scales tells the story of a young girl named Hayat, who lives in a village where sacrificing female children to mysterious sea creatures is a tradition. When it is time for her to be sacrificed, she rejects the tradition to make her own path. The Arab arthouse film was shot on location in Oman and is said to showcase the changing role of women in society within a world of fantasy.

The independently-run Venice section dedicated to first works presented the Verona Film Club Award to Ameen for the most innovative film in the Critics’ Week section where her film Scales premiered.

Also Read: Arab Designers Ruled the Red Carpet this Venice Film Festival

Giona A. Nazzaro, the general delegate for Venice Critics’ Week, said about Scales “I was aware of the project for a long time. I was also aware of the previous short Ameen had done [Eye & Mermaid],” according to the Saudi Gazette.

“Obviously there were great expectations but the film was even stronger and bigger than I expected. It was stronger and bigger in a very interesting way because it’s a film that does not show off.”

“It’s a film about the craft itself of filmmaking, it’s about how you reshape the world with the tool of cinema and it’s one of the most interesting and challenging coming of age stories of the last years.”

Another winner at the Venice Critics’ Week section dedicated to first works was All This Victory, a war drama by Lebanese director Ahmad Ghossein. The film produced by Georges Schoucair and Myriam Sassine of Beirut-based Abbout Productions won two awards — one decided by the jury and the other by the public.

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