release date August 10 2015
The Dream of Shahrazad Wins Best Documentary at AVANCA, Portugal
Only two weeks following being awarded Best South African Documentary at the 2015 Durban Film Festival, Francois Verster's The Dream of Shahrazad has just won the Best Film Award in the International Television Competition of the International Meeting of Cinema, Television, Video and Multimedia - AVANCA 2015.

Celebrating its 19th Edition, AVANCA 2015 screened 142 films, and awarded films and authors from 17 countries. The film's new award was shared with Thierry Michel's L'HOMME QUI RÉPARE LES FEMMES.

Last July, Verster's The Dream of Shahrazad won Best South African Documentary at Durban Film Festival in South Africa.

The Dream of Shahrazad explores recent social and political events in Turkey and Cairo through the lens of the famous story collection The 1001 Nights (aka Arabian Nights), using the fabled storytelling princess Shahrazad as a metaphor to explore how creativity and political articulation can coincide against oppression. A Turkish youth orchestra conductor uses Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade suite as a tool for political education; a young Lebanese actress reconciles her past by becoming an internet activist in Egypt; an older visual artist finds his "dream of Shahrazad" in the appearance of a beautiful young storyteller; an Alexandrian storyteller together with a Cairean theatre troupe meets with the mothers of martyrs of the Revolution and turns their testimonies into new storytelling performances.

The film, which had its World Premiere late last year in the prestigious Masters Section of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), has already been invited to over thirty festivals in 25 countries around the world. It won the Best Documentary in Progress Award at Sunny Side of the Doc in 2012, as well as the Al-Husseini Abu-Deif/Artwatch Africa Award for the Best Freedom Film at the Luxor African Film Festival 2015. It was a finalist for the FIPRESCI award at Documentarist 2015, and is shortlisted for Best Documentary at the African Movie Academy Awards 2015, with winners to be announced in September. The film also had full-house screenings at Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London and was part of D-CAF (Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival.)

The Dream of Shahrazad received support from the South African National Film & Video Foundation, the IDFA/Bertha Fund, the Sundance Documentary Fund, Spier Films, the CBA Worldview Fund, the Netherlands Film Fund, the European Union and Afri Docs.

It was produced by Verster in collaboration with Wael Omar of Middlewest Films; Shameela Seedat of Undercurrent Film and Television and Neil Brandt of Fireworx Media, and in coproduction with Fleur Knopperts and Denis Vaslin of Volya Films (Netherlands), Lucas Rosant of Melia Films (France), and Serene Huleileh and Reem Abu Kishek of the Hakaya Regional Network (Jordan.)

Francois Verster is an independent documentary Emmy awarded filmmaker with musical, cinematic and literature various backgrounds. Verster was born in 1969 in Cape Town, South Africa. He earned his MA in literature from the University of Cape Town then he participated in number of independent feature films before his first Avanti awarded documentary Pavement Aristocrats (1998) as a director and producer. After that, he directed and produced number of internationally awarded films such as; the Emmy awarded in 2006 A Lion's Trial (2002), When the War is Over (2002), The Mother's House (2006) and Sea Point Days (2009.)