The 2019 Arab Cinema Centre Awards were handed out at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday night, with Abu Bakr Shawky picking up the Best Film gong for his Egyptian road trip movie Yomeddine, and Capernaum director Nadine Labaki taking the prize for Best Director. Labaki is also chairing the judging panel for the Un Certain Regard Awards at this year's festival.
The ceremony on the sidelines of the main festival marked the third annual ACC awards, and the winners were selected by 75 film critics and industry professionals from 34 countries from all over the world.
In order to qualify for the awards, films must have premiered at international film festivals during 2018, and at least one of the production companies must be Arab (regardless of the size of its contribution to the production of the film).
In addition, the films must be feature-length (fiction or documentary). The first ACC Awards took place on the margins of the 70th Cannes Film Festival in 2017. The awards are given to the best Arab film productions every year in the categories of Best Film, Best Documentary Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress and Best Actor.
Film analyst Alaa Karkouti, co-founder of the ACC and chief executive of Egypt / UAE-based distributor MAD Solutions, commented: "The winners of this year's edition of the annual critics' awards show diversity that reflects the growing Arab film industry in the past few years, which explains the huge Arab presence in most of the competitions of this year's Cannes Film Festival. This is an indication that the development curve is on the rise."
Ahmed Shawky, manager of the awards, added: “With the increase of the number of the member film critics in the third edition, the variety of points of view has increased and the competition has become stronger. Most nominees were nearly neck-and-neck in most categories, which gives selections more credibility and suggests the ever-growing interest of film critics in Arab cinema.”
ACC is a non-profit organisation registered in Amsterdam. It acts as an international promotional platform for Arab cinema, providing the Arab filmmaking industry with a professional window to connect with their counterparts from all over the world through the events that it organises. It also provides networking opportunities with representatives of companies and institutions specialised in co-production and international distribution.
The Arab Cinema Centre has also announced the launch of the MAD 3ARABI (Arab Flow) Festival in Prague, Czech Republic.
The festival aims to focus on the Arab film and TV industry and provides an extension for filmmakers and content creators in the region to reach new shores.