The Red Sea International Film Festival has announced the winners of its inaugural Yusr awards, honouring a selection of films from across the Arab world, Africa and Asia.
The ceremony was held on Monday and marked the conclusion of the first edition of the festival, which took place in Jeddah’s historic Al Balad district.
Several Arab and international stars attended the event, including British model Naomi Campbell, Syrian actor Bassel Khaiat, Tunisian actress Hend Sabry and Egyptian actress Yousra.
Rupture by Hamzah K Jamjoom was awarded the prize for Best Saudi film. The psychological thriller centres around a pregnant Saudi who tries to wade through drug-induced hallucinations before a killer tracks her and her family down.
Brighton 4th by Georgian filmmaker Levan Koguashvili won the award for best feature. The film follows Kakhi, a Georgian wrestler who travels to Brooklyn to save his son from a gambling debt.
You Resemble Me, the debut feature of Egyptian-American filmmaker and journalist Dina Amer took home the Audience Award. The film, which had its world premiere at the 2021 Venice Film Festival, is a coming-of-age tale that examines the roots of radicalisation.
Darin J Sallam’s Farha, a film set in 1948 Palestine that follows a 14 year-old girl who watches from a locked pantry as the Nakba consumes her home, was awarded the Special Mention prize.
The Iranian film Hit the Road, by Amin Jafari, was awarded both the Jury Competition Prize as well as the award for best cinematic contribution. The road-trip film follows a tender but unpredictable family as they take a journey through the mountainous Iranian landscape.
Syrian-Swiss film Neighbours by Mano Khalil won the prize for best screenplay. The film is set in a small village in Syria along the Turkish border, where Muslims, Jews and Kurds live amicably until the arrival of a fanatical teacher.
The Iraqi-Kuwaiti-Italian film Europa earned its lead Adam Ali the award for best actor and filmmaker Haider Rashid the prize for best director. The sci-fi thriller is set on the border between Turkey and Bulgaria and follows a young Iraqi refugee as he is chased by a gang of refugee hunters.
Arawinda Kirana won the award for best actress for the Indonesian-Singaporean film Yuni. The drama follows the protagonist as she wards off a series of proposals.
Samsara, a short immersive Taiwanese film by Hsin-Chien Huang was awarded the Immersive Silver Yusr. The golden counterpart of the award was given to the Danish-French film End of the Night by David Adler. Jordanian-German film Tala’vision by Murad Abu Eiseh was awarded the Golden Yusr in the shorts category. The film follows an 8-year-old girl as she seeks refuge from a war-torn reality in a forbidden television.
Sixteen features, 18 shorts and 21 immersive virtual reality films were in the running for the awards across three categories.
Winners of the features category were decided by a jury that comprises Sabry, Academy Award-winning Italian director and writer Giuseppe Tornatore, founder of the Morelia International Film Festival Daniela Michel, and Saudi film director Abdulaziz Alshlahei.
The Red Sea: Shorts Competition Jury was headed by Egyptian director Marwan Hamed, Saudi Arabian actress and director Ahd Kamel, and Finnish-Somali director and writer Khadar Ayderus.
“The nominees showcased an incredible range of talent across a diverse and fascinating breadth of themes,” Tornatore, president of the Red Sea Features Competition, said during the ceremony.
“This has been an extraordinary experience. We have been moved, provoked and inspired by these films and it has demonstrated the exceptional filmmaking talent and compelling stories from the Arab world, Africa and Asia. The quality of the nominated films made many of our decisions very difficult.”