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Culture Middle East directors score big at Swiss film festival

festival
(Keystone)

An Iraqi-Swiss film director and a Tunisian filmmaker trained in Switzerland won the main awards of the 55th Solothurn Film Festival.

The jury awarded the prestigious “Prix de Soleure” to a debut documentary “Looking for the Man with the Camera” by Tunisian director Boutheyna Bouslama. The audience recongised the film "Baghdad in my Shadow" by Samir with the “Prix du Public”.

Bouslama's documentary chronicles her search for a childhood friend, Ossama, a Syrian media activist who disappeared. It paints a portrait of the missing person by weaving the testimonies of others who knew him.

Jury members said they were impressed “by the narration, the cinematic handwriting and the clear attitude towards the empty space left by their friend. With her film Boutheyna Bouslama makes the disappeared from war and forgotten conflicts visible. She does this with a sincerity that would be needed much more often.”

Bouslama trained as a visual artist and filmmaker at the Geneva School of Art and Design (HEAD). After the residence permit for her studies had expired, she had to leave Switzerland and has been living in Istanbul ever since. "A la recherche de l’homme à la caméra" is a co-production of the Geneva production company Close Up Films.

The CHF 60,000 jury prize at the Solothurn Film Festival is funded by the “Prix de Soleure” fund and the canton and city of Solothurn. Half of the prize money goes to cover teh costs of direction and production.

Audience favourite

Samir received the CH 20,000 Audience Award for “Baghdad in my Shadow”. The Iraqi-Swiss director tells the story of an Iraqi exile community that meets daily in the London café Abu Nawas and whose life soon takes dramatic turns.

The film is currently screening in German-speaking cinemas and will be released on February 19, 2020 in French-speaking Switzerland.

The Solothurn Film Festival is considered the most important for the Swiss film industry. It encompasses a representative cross-section of current film productions of all genres and lengths, with fiction, documentary, experimental, and animation for the cinema and television.

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