Within the Horizons of Arab Cinema Competition
Haifa Street Wins the Best Film and Best Acting Performance Awards at the Cairo International Film Festival
The Iraqi film Haifa Street by director Mohanad Hayal has won the Saad Eldin Wahba Award for Best Arabic Film and the Best Acting Performance Award to its lead Ali Thamer within the Horizons of Arab Cinema Competition at the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) that ended last Friday, raising the films awards to eight international awards.
Director Mohanad Hayal dedicated the awards to the Iraqi martyrs as he said in his acceptance speech, I salute all the Iraqi youths fighting in the streets of Baghdad. They are standing tall against the militias bullets. I salute them and dedicate this award to them.
Haifa Street received eight awards so far, 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, Front Row award at the Dubai International Film Festival. Furthermore, the film won a post-production grant from the Doha Film Institute.
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, and co-written with Hala Alsalman, Haifa Street stars Asad Abdulmajeed, Ali Thamer, Yumna Marwan, and Iman Abdulhassan, and produced by Sumerian Dream Productions. Wide Management handles the films 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. He participated in many advanced cinema workshops in a number of countries around the world. He spent ten years working as an assistant director in many Arab feature films. He also worked as a production manager for a number of short and feature films.
His short film Happy Birthday was selected at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival and received the Rising Star Award at the 2014 Rhode International Film Festival in the US. His latest feature film Haifa Street was selected as one of the most important African, Middle Eastern and Arab projects at the Venice International Film Festival (Final Cut). Mohanad currently lives in Baghdad and heads the Film Production department at the Iraqi Ministry of Culture.