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Annemarie Jacir • Director of The Oblivion Theory

“The Berlinale Co-Production Market has been an important part of my career ever since I started making features”


- BERLINALE 2021: After winning the prestigious Eurimages Co-production Development Award in Berlin, the Palestinian filmmaker talked us through her project

Annemarie Jacir  • Director of The Oblivion Theory
Director Annemarie Jacir (right) and her DoP, Hélène Louvart

Cineuropa chatted to Palestine’s Annemarie Jacir, director of The Oblivion Theory. Last week, Jacir won the prestigious Eurimages Co-production Development Award (valued at €20,000) at the Berlinale Co-Production Market (see the news).

The jury, comprising Portuguese producer Luís Urbano, founder and managing director of Denmark’s LevelK Tine Klint and Els Hendrix (for Eurimages), “was really very impressed by the adaptation and relocation of José Eduardo Agualusa’s novel into Gaza at the time of the First Palestinian Intifada” and were convinced by Jacir’s passion and vision for the story. The project is being co-produced by Incognito Films (France) and One Two Films (Germany).

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Cineuropa: What is The Oblivion Theory about?
Annemarie Jacir:
The Oblivion Theory is set in Palestine and follows the story of Ludo, an agoraphobic New Yorker, who happens to find herself in Gaza at the outbreak of the First Intifada. It is based on the Booker Prize-nominated novel A General Theory of Oblivion by Jose Eduardo Agualusa, which is set in Angola.

How are you planning to use the Eurimages Co-production Development Award?
The Eurimages Award comes at a great time for us and will allow us to start the new draft of the script. The timing is perfect!

How would you evaluate your participation in this year’s Berlinale Co-Production Market?
The Berlinale Co-Production Market has been an important part of my career ever since I started making features. I participated for the first time 16 years ago with my first feature, Salt of this Sea [+see also:
film profile
. I feel very lucky that, throughout the years, the Co-Production Market has continued to offer me support. This year was no different. I think we all feel the same these days, burnt out and tired of Zoom. But the market was organised incredibly well, and I am very surprised how smoothly it went. To pull it off was a huge feat, and the Co-Production Market team did not disappoint – nor did the festival. I must admit it was strange to pitch to the jury online, but they were all understanding and kind.

What kinds of challenges did the current health crisis pose for the project?
Film is collaborative. When you are separated from each other, even in the development phase, it is difficult. It’s not easy to connect online and get into deep discussions about the material and the work. On top of that, it has been almost impossible to do any work over the past year, especially for those of us who care for other people. To be honest, on a creative level, it has been a mental disaster. However, I can say that we did our best to use the time productively. We managed to connect and to exchange ideas. Eric Dupont did not stop working, and managed to find some amazing partners for the project, especially Sol Bondy and Fred Burle, from One Two Films, whom I did not know before. Olivia Hetreed (Girl with a Pearl Earring [+see also:
film profile
) and I have had some crucial discussions, and her participation in the project is a gift.

Do you have any idea when the project might be ready for release?
We are only at the early-development stage. We still need to finish financing. There’s still a long way to go, but last week certainly helped make this road shorter.

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