Make Film Not War Award

Jun 23, 15 Make Film Not War Award

The East-West Coexistence Award has been granted this year to Tunisian filmmaker Nacer Khemir. The selection of the award winner was made jointly by the Beirut Film Foundation and the organization Make Films Not War. The annual $10,000 award is granted to a Middle Eastern or North African filmmaker whose work crosses cultural, religious, and political divides. The award is funded by Omar Amanat, a film financier and philanthropist who is seeking to use the power of mass media to heal global divisions.

Though he is also a writer, painter, and storyteller, Mr. Khemir received the award in honor of his third feature film, Bab.Aziz. The film tells the story of a young girl named Ishtar and her grandfather Bab.Aziz, a wise old Sufi dervish, wandering the desert in search of a conference of dervishes that takes place every 30 years. The conference.s location is indeterminate, but Bab.Aziz assures Ishtar that .those who are invited will find their way.. During the journey, the wise dervish tells the young girl enchanting tales, and they encounter numerous colorful characters.

Filmed in Iran and Tunisia, Bab.Aziz uses Sufism to promote a message of faith and tolerance. Despite limited exposure, the film has received glowing reviews, particularly from Variety, which commended the .beautiful. film for the .stunning. visuals achieved by cinematographer Mahmoud Kalari. The UK film site Jigsaw Lounge writes that the film .combines the soulful and the epic – dazzling the eye with sweeping sand-dune vistas and pleasing the ear with a haunting score..

Mr. Khemir will use the financial award to create a feature about a music school in which Muslims, Christians, and Jews coexist in peace.

The East-West Coexistence Award is one of many initiatives begun by film financier Omar Amanat in an attempt to create understanding between West and East. Prior to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Mr. Amanat was a notable entrepreneur in the electronic brokerage industry. The tragedy caused him to study the role that media plays in fostering minority violence. He has since dedicated himself to financing and founding film production and distribution companies that promote global understanding and positive minority self-images. For more information, please visit www.OmarAmanat.com.