20-year-old Mohamed Hussen Anwar won first prize in the second edition of Tropfest Arabia, by a judging panel of six celebrities from around the Middle East and North Africa, including Emirati animator and Chairman of Lammtara, Mohammed Saeed Harib; Kuwaiti film producer and director, Amer Al Zuhair; Jordanian actress and producer, Seba Mubarak; Syrian actress and filmmaker, Kinda Alloush; Egyptian writer and director, Amr Salama and Lebanese musician and composer, Khaled Mouzanar. From the press release:
The five and a half minute winning film Undamageable (embedded below) explores the strength of ideas in a changing society. It was chosen from among the 16 finalist films that were previously shortlisted for their strength of idea and storytelling ability by Hend Sabry, the renowned Tunisian actress, this year’s co-director of Tropfest Arabia, and Tropfest founder John Polson.
Hend Sabry said: “What I like about Tropfest Arabia is the excitement of the live judging. The jury and the audience both see the films for the first time at the event and this shared experience not only adds to the anticipation of the evening but it also makes the competition transparent for everyone.”
She continued: “I know that the jury had a difficult task choosing a winner from the films that myself and John Polson had previously selected. Each of the short films was original and incredibly well-made and the showcase went a long way to demonstrate the breadth of talent and filmmaking potential we have in our region. But it was Mohamed’s film ‘Undamageable’ that really stood out for its rare combination of both creativity and technical skills. For a professional, this is rare to see in an amateur film.”
As the winner of Tropfest Arabia 2012, Anwar took home the prize of US$12,500 and a trip to Los Angeles to meet film industry professionals, courtesy of Motion Pictures Association. The runner up, Khaled El-Boumeshouli, the producer of ‘Two, Six’, won US$7,500 and a trip to meet industry professionals at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, courtesy of twofour54 and Variety Magazine. The third place contestant, Eslam Rasmy, producer of ‘Bite of Bread’, won US$5,000 and an internship with MBC2, while Pepars El Shahawy (starring in ‘Bite of Bread’) and Diana Demrawi (starring in ‘Black & White’) were awarded best actor and best actress.
Anwar said: “I liked all sixteen of the films. It is an honor that the jury chose ‘Undamageable’ when the competition was so tough. It is a great feeling to be recognized for my work. I’m really looking forward to my trip to Los Angeles and I now feel very excited about my future in filmmaking. I would like everyone to watch ‘Undamageable’ on YouTube and give me their feedback.”