Judge me by my work, says Arab woman filmmaker

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Annemarie Jacir.

Annemarie Jacir.

Palestine’s first female film director has urged the international film community to judge her films by her work and not by her gender.

Speaking ahead of the Birds Eye View, a London festival dedicated to Arab women filmmakers, Annemarie Jacir said she would prefer to be acknowledged as a filmmaker in her own right and not a standard bearer for Arab womanhood. 

“I don’t think women make different kinds of films to men,” she said in an interview in The Independent.

“You just want to be a film-maker. Yes, I am Palestinian, yes, I am a woman – but I am so many other things too... it does box you in at times.”

Jacir’s film, When I Saw You, will open Birds Eye View this week. The film, a Palestinian-Jordanian co-production, tells the story of the 1967 exodus of Palestinian refugees to Jordan.

Arab women filmmakers have become more prominent in recent years with the likes of Saudi Arabia’s Haifaa Al-Mansour and Nadine Labaki showing films at festivals around the world.

The Berlin International Film Festival screened its first Saudi movie in February. The prestigious event showed Saudi director and actress Ahd Kamel’s short film, Sanctity, which tells the tale of Areej, a young widow who tries to protect her unborn child.

Al-Mansour has also won critical acclaim for her movie, Wadjda, this year. The film, which tells the story of an 11-year old girl who dreams of buying a green bicycle to race against a friendly neighbourhood boy, won the audience award for best feature film at the Gothenburg Film Festival amongst many others.  

Birds Eye View, which will run from 3-10 April, will celebrate Arab women’s role in filmmaking said founder and director of BEV, Rachel Millward.

“Now, when Arab women are dominating the headlines at the world's most established film festivals, is the perfect time to shine a light on this increasingly important and diverse range of cinematic voices,” she said in a statement.

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