Cynthia Madanat Sharaiha's 'Saleem' turns out to be first Jordanian film selected at Annecy Animation Festival 2023

According to Variety, the movie is the first Jordanian to be chosen for the festival.

ANI | Updated: 12-06-2023 16:12 IST | Created: 12-06-2023 16:12 IST
Cynthia Madanat Sharaiha's 'Saleem' turns out to be first Jordanian film selected at Annecy Animation Festival 2023
Cynthia Madanat Sharaiha's 'Saleem' (Image source: Twitter). Image Credit: ANI
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Turning the intricacies of everyday life in Jordan, director Cynthia Madanat Sharaiha, who is known for 'Noor' and 'Our Family Life' presents her debut feature film, 'Saleem', in competition at the Annecy Animation Festival here. According to Variety, the movie is the first Jordanian to be chosen for the festival. It is a part of this year's Contrechamp strand, which also features 10 other films, including Pablo Berger's eccentric relationship study 'Robot Dreams', a standout at Cannes.

In order to provide a more complete perspective and challenge preconceptions, Madanat Sharaiha draws on the rich tradition of storytelling in her culture. She transforms the everyday activities of the area into vivid, wide-eyed depictions of boisterous and endearing kids, their parents, and the alluring provincial landscape. "We're a culture of storytelling, but our stories don't always make it into the world. We wanted to tell a different kind of story, not portray the Middle East as romanticized, political or magical. Ours is a modern story that represents the culture, an environment that's more diverse, different than what people normally see," Madanat Sharaiha told Variety.

Billed as a family adventure, "Saleem" is the tale of a refugee who's just lost his father. A young boy holding a mountain of grief, tasked with fitting into a new neighbourhood. Trying to temper the emotions that plague him, he makes fast friends and the group soon becomes distracted by an intriguing caper, reported Variety. Working with psychologists to ensure the accurate portrayal of childhood distress in the film, Madanat Sharaiha relays," We didn't want to tell a story of a child from an adult perspective, but from what children feel and experience, in their innocence, their strength and also weakness".

Produced by award-winning Jordanian producer Shadi Sharaiha ('Abu Sanad's Family'), Madanat Sharaiha's husband, and their boutique animation and digital content creation company Digitales, in tandem with Nadia Husseini ('Child of War'), the film dissects full-spectrum sorrow while highlighting the tools available to manoeuvre it. Solidarity in the film is emphasised by using relatable characters to encourage discussion on mental health and the hardship of displacement.

"We didn't want to focus solely on the trauma itself, but on the journey of recovery and healing, of adapting," Madanat Sharaiha relayed. "There are a lot of refugees in the world. It's very important to be able to understand and not shy away from asking questions, to become a part of their lives. There's a lot of stigma, ignorance and stereotyping, we wanted to challenge that in this film," she added. Utilising a writer's room, Madanat Sharaiha and her team of seven co-writers selected stories from their personal experiences to include in the script, each of whom was drawn into Saleem's positive path.

With Madanat commenting," As script writers, when we were writing the script, you could see each one of us relate to a perspective or angle from 'Saleem'." As per Variety, 3D animation is dominant, the visuals oscillating to 2D sequences when Saleem recalls past events. The process involved a far-reaching global network of animators, from local talents to Disney veterans Tom Bancroft ('Mulan') and Rob Corley ('Lilo & Stitch'). Award-winning composer Kurt Heinecke ('Veggie Tales') scored the film.

A delicate, uplifting study on pain, 'Saleem' refers to one child's waking nightmares subtly changing into connections full of hope, giving the titular character and those around him a more stable foundation. (ANI)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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