How far would you go for acceptance by your fellow beings? How far can you go when you are but a simple and arrogant man who lives in a mountainous terrain of Algeria?
Answers to these can make for reams of philosophical insights. But Lyes Salem had a better idea. He converted it into a movie, which went on to blaze a trail in the international film circuit bringing much glory and a jumpstart to Algerian cinema.
The movie, Masquerades, is now coming to Dubai, after having also contended for the Oscars for Best Foreign Film – the official entry by Algeria.
Produced and directed by Lyes Salem himself, Mascardes to be screened from June 3 to 16, 2010, exclusively at Reel Cinemas in The Dubai Mall will give a taste of accomplished cinema-making for Dubai audiences.
Masquerades premiered at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) 2008 and won the Muhr Arab Award and the FIPRESCI Award under the category of ‘Best Film’. Subsequently, it went on to win critical acclaim across several global film festivals.
DIFF Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali said that the screening of Masquerades in Dubai resonates to the growing demand from discerning movie-goers for internationally acclaimed cinema. “There is a dramatic shift in outlook and demand for good quality films in Dubai, led also by the efforts of DIFF to showcase the best in global film creativity and boost the cinema appreciation culture in the region.”
He added: “Masquerades will be a revelation for audiences, as it demonstrates the emergence of powerful filmmaking in the region, further endorsed by its success in the international film circuit.”
The film is showcased to the public through a partnership between DIFF and Reel Cinemas as part of an agreement signed last year to screen a selection of critically acclaimed films. Masquerades, for the first time ever, will be screened at The Picturehouse, the dedicated arthouse movie hall of Reel Cinemas, and is distributed by Funoon Film Distribution.
Masquerades narrates the story of Mounir (played by Lyes Salem), who lives with his family in the heart of the Algerian Aures. An arrogant man, he has only one dream: to finally be appreciated by his fellow citizens. He adores his sister Rym, who falls asleep anywhere and whom the village is convinced will end up a spinster. A poignant film with a rich raft of humour, Masquerades underscores the triumph of hope.
Highlighting its critical acclaim globally, Masquerades won the ‘Grand Prize’ at the Fameca Festival; ‘The Grand Prix’ at The Arabian Sights Film Festival of Washington DC; ‘The Golden Hawk’ at the 9th Arab Film Festival Rotterdam; The ‘Special Jury Award’ at the Beirut International Film Festival; and the ‘Grand Festival Prize’ for the Best Female Performance (Rym Takoucht) at the Festival Vues d’Afrique Montreal, Canada.
The film also cliniched the Bronze Yenenga at the FESPACO Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; and was nominated under the category of the ‘Best First Film’ at the CESAR 2009 with Mohamed Bouchaib claiming the title of the ‘Most Promising Actor’ at the Prix des Lumières. Winner of the ‘Audience Award’ at the Festival International de Musique de Besançon Franche-Comté, Masquerades won the ‘Grand Prize’ at Cinémas d'Afrique du pays d'Apt.’ Lyes Salem was honoured under the category of ‘Best Actor’ in the Official Competition at the Festival of First and Second film of the Island of Reunion.At the Official Competition of the Carthage Film Festival in Tunis, the film bagged three awards – ‘Best First Film,’ ‘Young Jury Award,’ and ‘Best Female Newcomer.’ The movie was also awarded with the ‘Valois Best Film’ at Festival d'Angoulême, as well as the ‘Junior Jury Prize’ and the ‘Audience Award’ under the first film competition at the Festival Francophone de Namur in Belgium.