Five MAD shorts compete at the Amman International Film Festival’s Arab Shorts Competition

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Five MAD shorts compete at the Amman International Film Festival’s Arab Shorts Competition

As a Pan-Arab leader in film distribution, MAD Solutions featured five short films from its distribution repertoire at the Arab Shorts Competition of the ongoing Amman International Film Festival (AIFF), which is running from August 15th to the 22nd in the heart of Amman.


Coming in first is Abedalsalam El-Haj’s ABED, which follows a nine-year-old child who works with his abusive father in a restaurant. One night, he faces his extreme fear of darkness when he is forced to buy a pack of cigarettes for his father.

The short film — which is based on a true story and is funded by the Royal Film Commission of Jordan — stars Hisham Alomari, Mohammad Abuagoulah, and Ali Badrana, and has been featured at the Malmö Arab Film Festival.

MAD’s second entry for the AIFF is Mohamed Fawi’s Sudanese short BUZZ, which follows a terminally ill mother as she watches her son and daughter prepare for her inevitable passing and their new reality. 

The film's main producer, Amjad Abualala, is the director of the Sudanese award-winning film YOU WILL DIE AT TWENTY, with production credits to both Fawi and Mohamed Alomda. The film’s cast comprises Jasour Abuelgasim, Zahra Mansour, and Ali Abdalgafar.

After holding its world premiere at the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF), BUZZ went on to feature at the Cairo Shorts, Casablanca, Toronto Arab, and New York African film festivals.

Third in the lineup is Nejib Kthiri’s Tunisian short TRINOU, which tells the story of Omar — a young boy who escapes his failing body and secluded life by traveling in dreams he creates from magazines his mother used to give him.

When his stepfather urges his wife to change her approach towards her son and stop giving him magazines, both mother and son take an important and life-changing step.

The cast for TRINOU includes Max Pemberton — who guest-starred as Dalton in the first episode of Tim Burton's Netflix series Wednesday — as the lead, alongside Mohamed Grayaa, Kaouther Dhaouedi, and Eleanor Crowe.

TRINOU world premiered at the CIFF and was nominated for Best Short Film at the International Documentary and Short Film Festival in Kosovo.

The British-Tunisian short was also featured at the LA Shorts, Show Me Shorts, Cinequest, and Master film festivals, along with Black Box Cinema at the 2023 Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. Moreover, it was nominated for the Best Student Short Film Award at the British Society of Cinematographers Awards.
Coming in fourth place in the lineup is Ihsen Kammoun’s Tunisian film ROAD TO EL KEF, wherein a vulnerable teenager living in northern Tunisia charts a path that threatens to tear apart what remains of his family after he loses his mother and brother.

The film — which premiered at the Carthage Film Festival and was nominated for the Grand Prix at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival in France — is headlined by award-winning Tunisian actor Ahmed Hafiane and Messiah star Fares Landoulsi alongside a star-studded Tunisian cast that includes Malek Ben Saad, Sawsen Maalej, and Alaa Edine Yacoubi.

ROAD TO EL KEF also featured at the Festival Les Nuits Méditerranéennes, Vancouver, Arab, Montecatini, Molodist Kyiv, and Rabat international film festivals.

Last but not least, MAD’s final contender is Ward Kayyal’s Palestinian drama HAMZA: CHASING THE GHOST CHASING ME, which tells the story of Hamza — a middle-aged man that refuses to abandon a routine he has kept since his release from Israeli jail; every day, he goes into the woods to hunt a lion that the locals don't believe exists.

The film — which premiered at the CIFF — is headlined by award-winning actor Kamel El-Basha, alongside Ruba Blal, Motaz Malhes, and Khulood Basel.
HAMZA: CHASING THE GHOST CHASING ME competed at the Cairo Shorts, Malmö, Casablanca, and Toronto Arab Film Festivals, and featured in the Clermont-Ferrand, Reel Palestine, San Diego Arab, Cine-Palestine, and Sharm El-Sheikh film festivals.

Also, as an extra treat, another MAD short, Murad Abu Eisheh’s Jordanian drama A CALLING. FROM THE DESERT. TO THE SEA, featured in the Spotlight on Jordanian Short Films Section at the AIFF.

The short film — which world premiered to a sold-out audience at the CIFF and won the Outstanding Visual Effects for a Student Film Award at the prestigious Visual Effects Society Awards — follows Ahlam, who, fearing that her younger sister will be married off just like she was, lures Yasmin to run away with her by telling a story of a mythical sea that lies beyond the desolate desert and its mountains.

In search of this mystical sea, the two sisters journey far from their home, predetermined fate, and secluded life with their father, however, along the way, young Yasmin is forced to face her inner demons and further her understanding of the world she lives in.

Written and directed by Academy member Murad Abu Eisheh — who directed the Student Academy Award-winning TALA’VISION — the film stars Yasmine Nawarj, Raean Al-Masri, and Hassan Mutlag Al-Maraiyeh.

The film was also featured at the Imedghassen Film Festival — where it snagged the Best Actress in a Leading Role award — along with the Cleveland, Lille, Neuchâtel Fantastic, and SIGGRAPH - Electronic Theater film festivals. It also went on to compete at the German Camera Awards.

The AIFF — which was initially developed with MAD Solutions — is Jordan’s first international film festival that showcases Arab and international movies and is organized under the umbrella of the Jordanian Royal Film Commission.

The festival is being held in the Abdali Boulevard District of Amman at the capital’s city center, with screenings taking place at the Abdali Drive-In Theater, Taj Cinema, Royal Film Commission, and Rainbow Theater.