Sharjah: The Sharjah-based The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF)’s debut documentary feature film, The Neighbourhood Storyteller, is witnessing a terrific reception by audiences and critics worldwide. The film has already been the official selection of 25 leading international film festivals across 14 nations in the region and around the world, and scooped five prestigious awards along with nine nominations in different categories.
Amongst the global awards the film won are the ‘Women in Film Award’ at the World Premiere in Telluride’s Mountainfilm Festival; ‘Best Human Rights Award’ at the Toronto International Women’s Film Festival; the ‘Best Documentary Award’ at the Amsterdam Short Film Festival and ‘Refugees’ Challenge Award’ at The International Film Festival The Hague.
The film directed by Mexican director Alejandra Alcala and produced by the nonprofit HOME Storytellers, has also received an ‘Excellence Award’ from Docs Without Borders, in addition to being nominated in the Best Documentary category at the Annual Copenhagen Film Festival, Best Documentary at the Dublin Independent Film Festival and Best Human Rights Youth at the Festival del Cinema dei Diritti Umani di Napoli.
Mariam Al Hammadi, director of TBHF, appreciated the global recognition the film has received, saying, “This new endeavour echoes the vision and humanitarian leadership of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Alqasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of TBHF and UNHCR Eminent Advocate of Refugee Children, to diversify refugee advocacy efforts to make it more personal and humane - offering communities across the globe a window into the lives of displaced and marginalised populations worldwide and the incredible courage they have to carve out a better future for themselves and their children no matter the odds that face them”.
Voice of the refugees
“All these international awards and recognitions are an acknowledgement of the importance of conveying the voice of refugees to the world and motivate us to tell more such inspiring stories of innocent victims of war and crises who are turning their hardships into opportunities for growth. We also hope that Asmaa’s story will inspire many people to become changemakers in their own communities as well as organisations to adopt a more grassroots approach to solve the challenges for people in vulnerable situations,” she added.
The film’s artful and character-driven narrative of Syrian refugee Asmaa and her unshakable resolve to raise a conscious generation of successful women through storytelling, has also scooped a nomination at the Close:Up Edinburgh Film Festival, and was announced a semi-finalist at the Atlanta Movie Awards and the New York International Women Film Festival, Flicker’s Rhode Island Film Festival.
After undergoing a strict vetting process by film experts and selectors, the documentary feature film has made it to the Official Selection list of 25 leading film festivals in the region and globally, including at DOQUMENTA Queretaro, Middlebury New Filmmakers Film Festival, The Women’s Film Festival, Immigration Film Festival, Peloponnisos International Film Festival, Portland Film Festival, The Hague Global Cinema Film Festival, Rabat International Children and Family Film Festival, La Femme International Film Festival, Helsinki Education Film Festival International, Syria Film Festival, Close:Up Edinburgh Film Festival, Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth, Refugees Welcome Film Festival.