Swedish director wins award at Doha film fest

AFP/The Local
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Swedish director wins award at Doha film fest
Josef Fares (top left), Jan Fares (front row centre) and Farsan cast, February

Swedish-Lebanese director Josef Fares was voted best director at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival in Qatar on Saturday for his newest film, "Farsan."


Fares was crowned best director for his comedy in which his real-life father Jan Fares plays a lonely widower making a return to the dating scene.

Josef Fares frequently casts his family members in his works, including "Jalla! Jalla!," "Kopps" and "Zozo." Born in Lebanon, he moved with his family to Örebro when he was 10 and now lives in Stockholm.

The founder of New York's Tribeca Film Festival, American actor Robert De Niro, helped to organise the first Doha festival last year and attended the final awards ceremony on Saturday night.

The jury included Hollywood actress Salma Hayek and was headed by popular Egyptian movie star Yusra. The festival showcased 51 feature films from more than 35 countries, with total prize money of $410,000 (2.72 million kronor).

Also at the five-day festival, "Hawi," directed by Egypt's Ibrahim al-Batout, won the best Arab film award.

Set in the Egyptian city of Alexandria on the Mediterranean, Hawi tells the story of a prisoner released on a mission to retrieve a set of documents, of a man who roams the streets with his sick horse, and a group of songwriters.

Separately, British director Justin Chadwick won the Audience Award for "First Grader," the story of a elderly Kenyan farmer who decides to join school in an attempt to finally learn how to read and write.

Each of the awards came with prize money of $100,000.

The festival opened with French-Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb's "Outside the Law," about a 1945 massacre of mostly unarmed Algerian civilians by French soldiers, a controversial movie which stirred anger in France.

The action-thriller opens with the massacre in the town of Setif and focuses on three Algerian brothers who survive and then live in France where they join Algeria's armed independence movement.

As the movie hit French screens in September, Le Parisien newspaper's front page read: "Outside the law, the film that disturbs." At Cannes in May, riot police were deployed outside the festival hall to restrain demonstrators.

The US-inspired festival in Qatar is a cultural partnership between the Doha Film Institute and Tribeca Enterprises. New York's Tribeca Film Festival was launched to reinvigorate cultural life in Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks.

The 21st annual Stockholm International Film Festival opens on November 17th and runs until the 28th.


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