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جَمر الزّيتون / The Stone of The Olive by Saurav Dutt

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A poem by British Bengali author Saurav Dutt animated by Egyptian filmmaker Nissmah Roshdy, whose film The Dice Player took top honors at the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in 2014. The Stone of The Olive was screened at ZEBRA 2106; here’s the description from a YouTube upload of the trailer:

A young man’s soul struggles to stay attached to his homeland after the destruction of war and occupation takes over his country. As he faces violence, the only thing that ties his soul to the land is the olive tree. The film visualizes the poem “The Stone of The Olive” by british author Saurav Dutt and adopts a fantasy-like portrayal of the struggle of Palestinian refugees.

Mahmoud Taji recites the poem, and the music is by Aaron Mist. The translation in subtitles is credited to World Translation Center.

لاعب النرد / The Dice Player by Mahmoud Darwish

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Egyptian student-filmmaker Nissmah Rosdhy’s animation of a section of a Mahmoud Darwish poem of the same title is the winner of the 2014 ZEBRA Prize for the Best Poetry Film. (Though the jury members announced from the stage that they regarded all four of the films they picked for prizes this year as equal winners, the prize sponsored by Literaturwerkstatt Berlin itself was still treated as the first among equals. And having watched all 29 competition films, I wouldn’t argue with that.)

Erica Goss and I met with Nissmah Roshdy the day after the awards ceremony and recorded a twenty-minute interview with her — go watch. The important thing to mention here is that the live recitation with music by the band Le Trio Joubran sparked the film; it’s much more than just a soundtrack. Combine that with a killer animation of Arabic typography and rotoscoped dance moves by the animator herself, and you’ve got an innovative, probably ground-breaking work. Congrats to Roshdy and a tip of the hat to the jury for their inspired selections. (Look for more of those here in the coming days, interspersed with other films from the festival.)