Thursday, December 15, 2011

Palestinian film wins at Dubai festival

Director Susan Youssef with Mohammed bin Rashid Maktoum, the son of the ruler of Dubai.

´Habibi´, the tale of two Palestinian lovers in Gaza, on Wednesday won the top prizes at the eighth Dubai Film Festival. The film, directed by Susan Youssef, got the  first prize in the category Best Arab feature film, and the film's star, Maisa Abdel Hadi, won the prize for the best actress, while the film also won the best editor award.
Habibi is based on the ancient Arabic romance of Majnun Layla, and tells the story of young Gazan lovers who are prevented from seeing each other by family, social tradition, and politics. The idea came to writer-director Susan Youssef while shooting Forbidden to Wander in 2002, a documentary that recounts her own romance with a theater director in Gaza. Nine years and numerous grants later, Habibi is set to seduce audiences worldwide. Youssef, a New Yorker of Lebanese descent, lives part of the year in Amsterdam. The film is funded by the  Netherlands, the US, the Palestinian Authority and the United Arab Emirates.
Youssef cried upon receiving the award, and in her acceptance speech said: "I hope we can show the film in Gaza." She said she began shooting the film in Gaza, but was forced to relocate after Israeli authorities blocked her from travelling to the territory.

Official trailer of the film

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