Jordanian-Palestinian filmmaker wins at Asia Pacific Screen Awards

Darin J Sallam's ‘Farha’ takes home the title for Best Youth Film

Darin J Sallam's feature 'Farha' is inspired by the real-life experience of one refugee, Raddiyeh. Photo: Jacqueline Bawtree
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Following on from its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival 2021, Farha was named the Best Youth Film at the 15th Asia Pacific Screen Awards in Australia on Friday.

The film, directed by Darin J Sallam, retells the horrors of Nakba in Palestine. The term, which translates to calamity, signifies a time between 1947 to 1949, when more than 500 Palestinian towns and villages were destroyed and more than 700,000 people forcibly displaced.

Sallam says Farha is inspired by the real-life experience of one refugee, Raddiyeh. Her story, the Jordanian-Palestinian filmmaker points out, travelled to her across a generation and the Levant.

“She was a girl who lived in Palestine during the Nakba,” Sallam previously told The National. “Her father locked her in the pantry [to protect her]. Her stepmother let her out later and they both survived, making it to Syria. The father disappeared. After Raddiyeh went to Syria, she met a little girl and told her the story. That little girl was my mother.”

In winning, Sallam becomes the first Jordanian filmmaker to be awarded an Asia Pacific Screen Award.

An award for Best Animated Film was also handed out to Aurora’s Sunrise, marking the first win for an Armenian film at the event. This tells the story of forgotten genocide survivor turned silent Hollywood film star and philanthropist.

The Stranger (Al Garib) won Niklas Lindschau an APSA for Best Cinematography. Directed by Syrian filmmaker Ameer Fakher Eldin, the feature-length film is set in a small village in the Golan Heights, where an unlicensed doctor is going through an existential crisis caused by the pressure of living under occupation. His life takes an unexpected turn when he encounters a man wounded near the checkpoint.

Elsewhere, Lebanese actress and director Nadine Labaki took home the FIAPF Award, determined by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations for outstanding achievement in film in the Asia Pacific region.

Nadine Labaki at the Marrakech International Film Festival. Getty Images

The award was presented on Friday having been previously announced, as this marks the first time nominees were able to attend since 2019.

The APSA International Jury was presided over by Egyptian screenwriter and producer Mohamed Hefzy, who said the role “allowed me a closer window into the rich cinema of the Asia Pacific region, with its diversity of themes, cultures, and filmmakers”.

The Best Film Award, meanwhile, went to Before, Now and Then (Nana) by Kamila Andini, marking both the first Indonesian film and the first film directed by a woman to win an APSA.

Updated: November 12, 2022, 12:17 PM