Haifa Street Wins The Golden Olive Branch Award at Jerusalem International Film Festival

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The Film's Ninth International Award

Haifa Street Wins The Golden Olive Branch Award at Jerusalem International Film Festival

Iraqi film Haifa Street by director Mohanad Hayal won The Golden Olive branch award for best feature film at the fifth edition of the Jerusalem International Film Festival. This marks the filmÂ’s ninth international award.

Recently, the film screened at Darb 1718 Art and Culture Center and took part in The Arab World Festival of Montreal and the first Amman International Film Festival. Also, it had full house screenings at Zawya Cinema and has been released across Tunisian cinemas. This comes as part of the film's postponed Pan-Arab tour that was scheduled to take place in Jordan, Palestine among other Arab countries, which was put into a halt due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Before the cinematic pause, Haifa Street landed its European premiere at Göteborg Film Festival in Sweden, It received 8 other awards, including the Best Film award at the Busan International Film Festival, Laser Film award and HAKKA Distribution award at the Takmil Workshop of the Carthage Film Festival (JCC), Lab Award from the Asia Pacific Academy, Market Award at the Tribeca International Film Festival, and the Cinescape Award, presented by Front Row at the Dubai International Film Festival. Furthermore, the film won a post-production grant from the Doha Film Institute. Haifa Street had its Arab world premiere at the Carthage Film Festival (JCC), where it received wide audience and critical acclaim.

Set in Baghdad in 2006, Haifa Street is one of the most dangerous places suffering from the civil war and violence that has plagued the city. When Ahmed is dropped off there by a taxi on his way to his beloved Suad's house to ask for her hand in marriage, he gets shot by Salam, an anxious young sniper who is living his own personal hell on a rooftop above. Suad desperately tries to save Ahmed, but Salam prevents anyone from approaching him under the threat of gunfire. When her daughter Nadia elicits the help of their cunning neighbor, Dalal, all hell breaks loose under the ominous presence of the American occupation.

Directed by Mohanad Hayal, who co-wrote it with Hala Alsalman, Haifa Street stars Ali Thamer, Asad Abdulmajeed, Yumna Marwan, and Iman Abdulhassan, and produced by Sumerian Dream Productions. Wide Management handles the film's worldwide distribution, while MAD Solutions handles its distribution and marketing across the Arab world.

Mohanad Hayal was born in southern Iraq in the city of Nasiriyah in 1985. He graduated from the Cinema Department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad in 2010. He participated in many advanced cinema workshops in a number of European and Arab countries. His latest short film Happy Birthday (2013) was selected at the Berlin International Film Festival and received the Rising Star Award at the 2014 Rhode International Film Festival in the US.

His feature film debut Haifa Street won the Top Award in the Official Competition of the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea, and the Best Arabic Film and Best Acting Performance awards in the Horizons of Arab Cinema competition at the Cairo International Film Festival. Aside from his work as a director, he worked as a co-producer in several films. He also organized a number of screenwriting and co-production workshops. Mohanad currently heads the Film Production department at the Iraqi Ministry of Culture.