La Dernière reine awarded at the Cinemed Meetings
by Fabien Lemercier
- Damien Ounouri's project wins the main development grant at the Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival
After two days of pitching, the jury of the 27th edition of the Development Aid Grant – awarded as part of the 39th Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival – unanimously presented the grant to Le Dernière reine (lit. The Last Queen), the debut feature film project by the Franco-Algerian director Damien Ounouri (read the interview here), produced by Adila Bendimerad (also co-screenwriter) for Taj Intaj. The film is set in the year 1516 when Algiers, then a small Arab-Berber republic, is suffocating because of the occupation by the Spaniards, who have been in control of the port for six years. King Salim Toumi forms an alliance with the pirate Barbarossa to liberate the city. After the victory, Salim is found dead in his bath. Barbarossa becomes the new master of Algiers, and is forced to deal with rebellion. History and legend also tell that Salim Toumi, the last King of Algiers, had a wife named Zaphira, whom Aroudj Barbarossa allegedly coveted. Barbarossa supposedly stated "I will take his palace, and I will ride his horse, and his wife."
Awarded by a jury chaired by Georges Goldenstern (Director of Cannes Film Festival’s Cinéfondation), and supported by Marianne Dumoulin (JBA Production), Dominique Welinski (DW Production), Jad Abi-Khalil and Olivier Jahan, the €8,000 grant is supplied by the CNC, with an additional €5,000 for post-production services at Anaphi Studio.
The second grant totalling €4,000 was awarded by the Occitanie region (plus an additional €5,000 euros for post-production technical services at French Kiss) to another debut feature project: Où ai-je laissé mon visage? (lit. Where Did I Leave My Face?) by Palestinian director Ramzi Maqdisi, produced by Iyas Jubeh for Quds Art. It should be noted that this project, which already received a grant at Cinemed in 2016 as part of the "from short to long" program, also won a writing residency this year, offered by the Mediterranean Film Institute (Greece).
The jury awarded the third grant to the debut feature project, Même les ânes ont des remords (lit. Even Donkeys Have Regrets) by Lebanese director Shirin Abu Shaqra (produced by Myriam Sassine for Abbout Productions), who will benefit from a residency at the Moulin d'Andé centre for film writing, along with €2,500 in post-production services offered by Titra Films.
For its part, the jury of the 3rd edition of the "from short to long" program (open to filmmakers in competition with short films who wish to pitch longer projects) has granted two further writing residencies at the Moulin d'Andé (thanks to the support of the SACD) to Avant le désert (lit. Before the Desert) by the French Sophie Tavert (produced by Films du grand Huit) and Under the Seventh Sky There Is Always a Man Sleeping by Egyptian filmmaker Sameh Morsi.
(Translated from French)
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