Mai Masri's true story film to represent Jordan in the 2017 Oscars
Committee of sector insiders selects Mai Masri’s film to be submitted to Academy Awards. (lff.org.au)
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Mai Masri’s “3000 Nights” will be Jordan’s official submission for the Foreign Language Film category in the 89th Academy Awards, the Royal Film Commission (RFC) announced on Sunday.
A committee of Jordanian media professionals and actors, chaired by Arab Telemedia Company founder Adnan Awamleh, selected Masri’s film in a process organised by the RFC, the commission said in a statement.
Inspired by a true story and shot in a real prison in Jordan, “3000 Nights” tells the story of a newlywed Palestinian schoolteacher who is wrongfully arrested and incarcerated in an Israeli prison where she gives birth to her son, the RFC said.
Through her struggle to raise her child behind bars, the film traces a young mother’s journey of hope, resilience and survival against all odds.
The film received funding from several sources, including the Jordan Film Fund.
It has been released in theatres in nine countries so far, to international critical acclaim and has been shown at dozens of festivals, the RFC noted.
The film has already won multiple awards, including the Circle Jury Award at Washington DC International Film Festival, the Jury Award at the Women’s International Film and Television Showcase in Los Angeles, and the Young Jury Award at the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva, as well as audience awards at festivals in Spain and France.
It had its US premiere at Palm Springs International Film Festival in California and competed at Busan International Film Festival in South Korea with “full-house screenings”.
Masri was born in Amman, of a Palestinian father and an American mother.
She grew up in Beirut and studied film at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University.
The filmmaker has directed and produced several documentaries that have won over 60 international awards, including the Trailblazer Award at Cannes Mipdoc Film Festival in 2007, the Luchino Visconti Award in Italy (2003) and the Asia-Pacific Screen Award in Australia (2007).
In an interview with The Jordan Times in April, Masri said that in her films she always highlights the issues of marginalised groups such as women and children, and focuses on the humanity and resilience of ordinary people living through turbulent and extraordinary times.
The filmmaker commended the support she received from the RFC in terms of co-production and technical assistance on the ground, and by facilitating the issuance of permits to shoot in a real prison in Jordan.
“I feel very privileged to have had a chance to shoot my film in an old disused military prison in Zarqa, as it gave the film a realistic and powerful dimension that could never be achieved in a studio,” Masri told The Jordan Times at the time.
“It also gave the actors a powerful psychological framework for their performances. The shooting conditions were not always easy, especially since we were shooting for long hours in uncomfortable surroundings and high levels of heat.”
The female-dominated cast comprised several veteran actresses such as Maisa Abd Elhadi, Nadera Omran, Haifa Al Agha, Anaheed Fayad and Rakeen Saad, but also some first time actresses.
The feature film “Theeb” was Jordan’s submission to the 88th Academy Awards, and went on to be one of five finalists shortlisted for Best Foreign Film.
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