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TriBeCa Film Festival features first-ever Jordanian film

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - Jul 04,2022 - Last updated at Jul 04,2022

Poster courtesy of IMDb website

AMMAN —  The short film “Touchline” made history as the first Jordanian production to be screened at the 21st TriBeCa Film Festival in New York, which concluded on June 19. 

The film was written and directed by Palestinian-American filmmaker Mohammed Saffouri, staring Jordanian actors Basil Askar, Mustafa Murad, Anas Algaralleh and Lina Abu Rezeq.

Set during the Palestinian Nakbeh (catastrophe) of 1948, “Touchline” tells the story of Ahmad, a 17-year-old boy who plays football in a local club in his hometown, Haifa, and later receives an offer to play for the Palestinian National Team.

On his way home, Ahmad is faced by soldiers blocking his way and people fleeing their homes. He then arrives to find his family packing to seek a safe refuge.

“Ahmad refuses to leave at first, clinging to his dream of playing football in the national team, which comes crumbling down when he sees that the football field has been turned into a battle field, destroyed by tanks and soldiers,” Algaralleh, who plays the role of Ahmad’s father, told The Jordan Times in a recent interview.

This participation provided the Palestinian cause with a global platform that “introduced non-Arabs to the situation in Palestine and the struggles of its people”, he said, noting that it is important for such “central causes” to have a presence in the cinematic domain.

The film is based off of the real life story of Saffouri’s grandfather who, like Ahmad, was forced to leave his home behind during the Nakbeh. At the end of the movie, Ahmad gives the ball to another young boy.

Algaralleh said that this is a significant scene which symbolises “the continuity of Palestinians’ fight for freedom and independence”.

The screening was met with approval and a standing ovation. According to Algaralleh, the audience seemed “very touched” by the story.

The actor also participated in various other cinematic and theatrical productions, including the award-winning Jordanian-Palestinian film “When I Saw You”. 

Algaralleh also won the Best Actor Award for his role in the Egyptian film “Awda” during the International Festival Film Online in 2021.

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