Michelle and Noel Keserwany’s LES CHENILLES wins Gouna Star for Best Arab Short Film at El Gouna Film Festival

27 December 2023
The Keserwany Sisters’ French-Lebanese short film LES CHENILLES — laureate of the Golden Bear Best Short Film at the Berlin International Film Festival, and the first Arab film to win the award — just won another award to add to its growing repertoire, grabbing the Gouna Star for Best Arab Short Film at the closing ceremony for the sixth edition of the El Gouna Film Festival, which ran from December 14th to the 21st.
Commenting on this latest trophy, the Keserwany Sisters and film producer Marine Vaillant had this to say, “This prize holds immense significance for all of us, especially with the film's Arab world premiere, as we recognize that we are addressing individuals who grasp the essence of our narrative.”
“In light of the attacks on Gaza and South Lebanon, expressing feelings of sadness and other complex emotions becomes challenging. Nevertheless, in the face of these horrific times, we are more determined than ever to shape the narrative against the oppression and distorted perspectives we witness,” they added.
“We appreciate your trust; it is a support that will allow us to share our stories on a broader scale. Our hearts and thoughts are with the people of Gaza and South Lebanon.”
The short film — which held ts Arab World premiere as part of the Gouna Film Festival’s Short Film Competition — has toured a myriad of international festivals, going on to receive the Jury Prize at the Malmö Arab Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Champs-Élysées Film Festival, and a Special Mention from the Kinmastik International Short Film Festival in Malta. It was also nominated for the Best Short Film Award by the European Film Academy.
LES CHENILLES has also screened at over 20 prestigious international film festivals, including the Format Court, Lichter, Golden Harvest, Diaspora, Kurzfilm, SAFAR, Tetova, Concorto, Dokufest, Kerala, FIRST, and Golden Ger international film festivals. Moreover, It was recently preselected to compete for the Cesar Award for Best Narrative Short in France.
LES CHENILLES follows two female waitresses, Asma and Sarah — two women originally from the Levant — who find themselves working in the same restaurant in the city of Lyon, France, and both bear the weight of a home they were forced to leave behind.
Initially wary of each other, they gradually discover a common thread that binds them — one that dates back to when the Silk Road connected Lyon to their home countries. In the midst of forced migrations, can they move past their animosity to find solace in each other?
MAD Solutions recently acquired the Arab world distribution rights to the short film, which Film Verdict described as a “complex and energizing film worthy of an award.”
Written and directed by Michelle and Noel Keserwany, LES CHENILLES stars Noel Keserwany and Masa Zaher; is produced by Biennale de Lyon, Dewberries Film, and Marine Vaillant; and is lensed by Karim Ghorayeb. Meanwhile Italy-based distribution company Lights On is acting as the film’s international sales agent.
The short drama was supported by the CNC - Aide au parcours d’Auteur, la CinéFabrique de Lyon, and la Cité Internationale des Arts de Paris.
Michelle and Noel Keserwany are Lebanese musicians, writers, and filmmakers who live between Beirut and Paris.
Ever since Michelle co-wrote Academy Award nominee CAPERNAUM with director Nadine Labaki, the sisters started working on their own film projects, including the political documentary SLOW BURN — a co-production between France and Lebanon that is produced by Special Touch Studios and supported by the CNC.
Noel is currently writing her first fiction film UN AN and developing an animated short film titled SEVEN MOUNTAINS AND SEVEN SEAS — a grantee of the DFI Production Fund that is produced by Dewberries Films.
Meanwhile, Michelle is currently developing her first animated feature film OUZKOURINI which is produced by Special Touch Studios.
In 2021, she also received the CNC's Aide au Parcours d’Auteur grant to develop her first fiction feature film AMARA — a satirical political drama that takes place in Beirut — which received three development and post-production prizes at Amman Industry Days as well.