Tripoli, 26 April:
The Libya Movie Awards kicked off on a high note last night, with traditional music and dancing in the aisles, and this was before a single film had been shown.
Every seat in the Al-Mahari theatre was full when the audience, facing a screen expectantly, was surprised by four Libyan musicians emerging to wander through the aisles of the theatre.
As the music swelled, the crowd became more and more uproarious, with young men pretending to belly-dance. Those who remained seated were treated to chocolate-covered dates being handed out from huge boxes.
Then the opening ceremony began, with a welcoming address from Khaldoun Sinno, head of press for the EU delegation. He voiced support for the French, alluding to the bomb attack at the French embassy on Tuesday.
“One bomb will not cancel the friendship between the EU and Libya,” Sinno said: “We are with you and for you. You have created a new Libya and we made a commitment to be with you, now and forever.”
Sinno said he was delighted to see so many young people at the event because, he said, they were the future and the future of the relationship between the EU and Libya.
“I hope this will become an annual festival,” he added, to animated cheering from the audience.
The films shown last night were also very well-received. The House Game, by Egyptian filmmaker Mohamad ElWassify, had the audience in stitches with its take on how childhood reflects adulthood, brilliantly-acted by two children.
Yesterday was the start of a three-day festival, which aims to create a Libyan film industry and build a community of filmmakers. It has been organised by the EU delegation, the Italian Cultural Institute and NGO 1Libya.
The popularity of the event surprised even the organisers. “We didn’t expect so many people to show up,” one of the volunteers with 1Libya told the Libya Herald. “There are over 500 people here.”
The response to the Libya Movie Awards competition was also surprising, another volunteer said. “We expected maybe 20 submissions but we actually received 80.”
She said that this bodes well for the future of filmmaking in Libya: “Looking at the submissions, I think the filmmaking industry will really grow in the next five to ten years in Libya.”
The best short films selected from the 80 entered into the competition will be shown during the festival.
Shorts from North Africa, the Middle East and Europe will also be screened, including award-winning movies from the EU-sponsored ‘Made in Med’ film competition.
The programme for the next two days of the Libya Movie Awards is:
Friday 26 April:
5:00pm: European Short Movies (Film directors will be present)
Merry-Go-Round Jody, by Adriano Sforzi (Italy)
The Blind Spot, by Raul Navarro (Spain)
The Black Rider, by Pepe Danquart (Germany)
I Had A Dream, by Francesco Merini (Italy)
The Match, by Francesco Merini (Italy)
6:30pm: Karama Has No Walls, by Sara Ishaq, (Yemen)
7:00pm: Isqat Al Nizam: At The Regime Border, by Antonio Martino (Italy)
Saturday 27 April:
5:30pm: The final ceremony and screening of the ten best short movies made by young Libyan filmmakers, from the Libya Movie Awards competition.
All events are being held in the theatre at the Al-Mahari/Radisson Blu hotel. The theatre has its own entrance, on the left-hand side of the building if you are facing the hotel.
For more information, see: https://www.facebook.com/LibyaMovieAwards?fref=ts