Algiers – The short film entitled “The Cow”, directed by Rasool Haghjoo from Iran, was crowned with the “Golden Gate” award for the fifth edition of the Digital Gate Festival for the International Short Film in Annaba (August 2020 edition), which is the event that takes place every month on Facebook, according to the festival’s organizers.
Iran snatched the first place, winning the “Golden Gate” award for the fifth edition, while the second prize, “Silver Gate”, went to “Whisper of Paths” by the directors Soheir and Hassan Al-Baqouti from Morocco, while the “Bronze Gate” award for the same festival went to the film “The Visit” by the Syrian director Amr Ali.
The festival allocated the Grand Prize of the public for the short film “The Last Will” by Mohamed Hussein Darbadikhali from Iraq, and the Jury Prize for “The Life of the Princess” by Faysal Halini from Morocco and “In the middle of the lake” by Guillaume Mangit from France.
The International Short Film’s jury addressed remarks to the film “An Orphan Struggle” by the Algerian director Zidane Jilali from Algeria and “Mistake” by the Ivorian director Brulat, as explained by the festival coordinator, Daleel Belkhudir.
Following his distinction, the Iranian Director and scriptwriter of the short film “The Cow”, delivered a word, expressing thanks to Albavabeh Academy and each of the great jury members.
“First of all, I would like to thank Albavabeh Academy and each of the great jury members of the festival,” the Iranian director pointed out, before continuing: “I appreciate your attention…It is an honor…It is such an honor to be part of this festival…I would like to thank also the cast and the crew and everyone associated with the Cow.”
And to add: “In these pandemic days, I just want to wish you, and your loved ones health and safety. From the bottom of my heart, I truly believe that sunny days will come back again…and very soon.. God luck and be safe,” he concluded.
This festival, which was established as a cultural event to revitalize and communicate between the short film makers, providing an opportunity for the seventh art enthusiasts to demonstrate and shed light on their talents through Fabebook, is organized by the Culture Directorate of Annaba in cooperation with the House of Culture .
No less than 400 short film works from several Arab, African, Asian and European countries have participated in the Digital Gate International Short Film Festival since its launch last April, in cooperation with the Culture Directorate Mohamed Boudiaf, the “Light of the Mediterranean” association, and the House of Culture in Annaba.
The successive editions of the festival have, also, witnessed the organization of training sessions in cinema professions using social networking sites for the benefit of youth and cinema enthusiasts, by coaching experts and specialists in the field of the film industry.
Algeria and Iran have qualified , on multiple occasions, cultural cooperation exiting between both countries as good, calling for its broadening into other fields such as; theater, music and literature.
Noting that Iran is one of the most important Asian film schools, making Iranian films distinguished in international festivals. These films are awarded on the global scale and are highly rated in a number of specialized film sites.
Since the visit of the-then Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Reza Salehi Amiri, to Algeria in March 2017, Algeria and Iran have been linked by a cooperation agreement between the Iranian Farabi Cinema Foundation and the Algerian Center for Cinema and Audiovisual to promote joint bilateral film production and cooperation in various fields of cinema between the two countries.
The agreement provides for the promotion of co-production, by facilitating measures for the movement and residence of the actors and the technical staff involved in the cinematic works, as well as facilitating the import and export of the equipment necessary for the completion of these works and their exploitation in each country.
The agreement also includes cooperation in the field of cinema formation, expanding cooperation and exchange between film schools in Iran and Algeria, as well as between film production centers and film museums, in addition to providing support to benefit from cinematic cities for the shooting.
In addition, the agreement provides for the restoration of cinematographic works, promotion of festivals and film weeks, as well as the mutual distribution of films and the endeavor to display Iranian and Algerian feature films in both countries.
In this vein, a movie on Ahmed Bey (c. 1784-1850), the last Ottoman ruler of Algiers was co-produced by both countries. Iranian filmmaker Jamal Shurjeh was the film’s director and the costumes and film sets have been designed by Iranian experts. The Iranian cineaste Danesh Eqbashavi, was, also, collaborating on the film, directing the war scenes for “Ahmed Bey”. An Iranian team gave consultation on the stunt, make-up, shooting and sound-on-film.
The anti-colonialist film ‘Ahmed Bey’, whose filming had ended, depicts the freedom fighter Ahmed Bey’s life from 1826 to 1848 when he ruled the Regency of Algiers, laying grounds for more cooperation between Tehran and Algiers in various fields related to cinema and arts.
Ahmed Bey, who had memorized the entire Qur’an by heart, was the ruler of the Eastern province of Constantine during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. He dedicated his life fighting French colonialism. Under his command, he succeeded in uniting well-known tribes, thanks to his cleverness with a view to staging battles against French occupier. He is one of the heroes of Algerian resistance movements against the invading colonialists that preceded the outbreak of Algeria Glorious Liberation War.
This experience is highly appreciated by the Algerian side, as expressed by the former Culture Minister Azzedine Mihoubi, who considered this joint project of film-making with Iran as an opportunity for getting familiar with the Iranian cinema style as well as exchanging cultural knowledge between the two countries.
“Iranian cinema occupies a prominent position in the world thanks to its valuable experiences. Filmmaker Jamal Shurjeh, who undertakes the task of directing this film is considered as one of the best Iranian directors. The staff conduct a lot of meticulous research and investigation into the historical stages of Ahmed Bey’s life and the environment in which he lived, the clothes, customs and drawings used in that era,” Mr. Mihoubi highlighted.
For her part, the Algerian producer of the film, Samira Hadj Djilani, commended the high professionalism of the Iranian technicians who spared no efforts for the success of this production, highlighting that the Iranian staff provided training sessions to Algerians enabling them to master the technique side, including the special effects, costumes, pictures sets, and make up. 27 Algerian costume designers were formed in their field of specialty by Iranian specialists, while Iranian specialists in the war scenes and special effects for “Ahmed Bey”, trained two officers from the Algerian Army (Algeria’s People National Army). With respect to makeup, decoration, pictures sets, Iranians did not skimp on educating their Algerian counterparts, sharing with them all their expertise and knowledge.
This Iranian-Algerian cooperation in the field of cinema is the second of its kind, after Algeria sought help from Iranian experts in cosmetics and accessories led by Mrs. Sudaba Khosravi for the realization of the film Ibn Badis by Syrian director Basil Al-Khatib, and this experience aroused the admiration of Algerians who called for more cooperation.
Algeria, for its part, is eager to introduce Algerian culture and art to Iranian people, participating in different exhibitions. Last year, an Algerian Cultural Exhibition was held at Melal Cultural Center, with a view to make people of the two countries more familiar with each other’s cultures, customs and traditions. Works of visual and traditional arts (Watercolor, oil paint, acrylic painting, miniature, painting on sand, ceramic panels, etc.) and handicraft were displayed, illustrating to Iranians the historical aspects and life of the people of Algeria.
On the other hand, different Iranian cultural exhibitions took place in Algeria to get the Algerians familiar with Iran’s culture and art.
Several major cultural and art fairs are frequently organized by Iran’s embassy in Algeria, such as: the one held last year in Blida province, located about 45 km south-west of Algiers, and 10th Intl. Festival of Calligraphy, Miniatures Exhibition with prominent Iranian artists in attendance, where they were warmly honored and awarded.
Screening Iranian films and documentaries, holding calligraphy workshops, performing Iranian music, introducing Iranian food and confectionery, introducing Iranian science, tourism and historical attractions and displaying films are always on the agendas of the exhibitions’ programs, international book fairs and cultural weeks which help the two nations get more acquainted with the cultural identity and tradition of one another.
Algerians discovered for a week, in 2019, the Iranian movies following a government initiative to diversify cinematographic products. An Iranian Film Week was held in Algeria in order to present Persian culture and cinema to the African country’s public.
Prominent Iranian film directors, namely; Seyyed Reza Mirkarimi and Kamal Tabrizi attended the event where a number of Iranian films were screened; such as; A Cube of Sugar by Reza Mirkarimi, About Eli by Asghar Farhadi, A Piece of Bread by Kamal Tabrizi and Mainline by Rakhshan Bani-Etemad. Different cultural panels about Iranian cinema were also held on the sidelines of the event with Algerian directors and producers.