Berlinale Blog “Amal” Wins Best Documentary Award

Producer Sara Bökemeyer and director Mohamed Siam receive the Film Prize of the Robert Bosch Stiftung for International Cooperation for their project “Amal”.
Producer Sara Bökemeyer and director Mohamed Siam receive the Film Prize of the Robert Bosch Stiftung for International Cooperation for their project “Amal”. | Photo: David Ausserhofer © Berlinale 2015

When I met Mohamed Siam at the Leipzig Documentary Film Festival in November 2014, it took him all of five minutes to get me excited about his “Amal” project. And I was not the only one: the Robert-Bosch-Stiftung has now paid tribute to the film at the Berlinale.

What started out as five minutes back in Leipzig turned into nearly an hour. We talked about the situation facing young Egyptian filmmakers like him, about the future of Egypt – and returned time and time again to Amal. Together with his co-producer Sara Bökemeyer, Mohamed Siam has now been awarded the Film Prize for International Cooperation for young filmmakers from Germany and the Arab world. Since 2013, the Robert Bosch Stiftung has provided funding of up to 70,000 euros each for three film projects within the framework of the “Berlinale Talents”.

Fresh, close-up and dynamic

The high-calibre jury praised Siam’s film idea “for the fresh, close-up and dynamic way in which it portrays the energy of a socially marginalized young woman in today’s Egypt”. Amal tells the story of a rebellious young girl determined to assert herself in the male-dominated world of Egyptian football. One of the places where Mohamed Siam pursued the project was during Doc Campus MENA, a training and network programme staged by the Documentary Campus and the Goethe-Institut Cairo.

Awards in the short film and animation categories

Alongside Amal in the documentary category, The Parrot won the award in the short film category. The jury was impressed by this highly original Palestinian-Israeli tale of uprooting and adaptation which is narrated from an unusual perspective with a lightness and great love of detail. The award in the animation category went to Clean Up The Living Room We’ve Got Visitors Coming. “The jury was convinced by the very creative way in which the film approached the difficult subject of the people who disappeared during the Lebanese civil war”, explained the jury in its statement.

Members of the selection committee included Johannes Ebert, Secretary General of the Goethe-Institut, Marianne Khoury, Director of Misr Film International, and Hania Mroué, Director of the Metropolis Art Cinema in Beirut.