Three MAD Shorts to feature at San Diego Arab Film Festival

19 April 2024
MAD Solutions — the MENA region’s leading film distribution agent — is sending three films from its extensive short film slate to the San Diego Arab Film Festival, which is running from April 12th to the 21st in the US. 
MAD’s mini-lineup includes Murad Abu Eisheh’s A CALLING. FROM THE DESERT. TO THE SEA, Hamza Atifi’s PHONEBREAKER, and Majdi El-Omari’s MAR MAMA.
When it comes to Murad Abu Eisheh’s Jordanian drama short A CALLING. FROM THE DESERT. TO THE SEA, the film has already enjoyed a successful screening on Saturday, April 13th after world premiering to a sold-out audience at the CIFF and winning the Outstanding Visual Effects for a Student Film Award at the prestigious Visual Effects Society Awards.
The film follows Ahlam, who, fearing that her younger sister will be married off just like she was, lures Yasmin to run away with her by telling a story of a mythical sea that lies beyond the desolate desert and its mountains.
In search of this mystical sea, the two sisters journey far from their home, predetermined fate, and secluded life with their father, however, along the way, young Yasmin is forced to face her inner demons and further her understanding of the world she lives in.
A CALLING. FROM THE DESERT. TO THE SEA was featured at the Imedghassen Film Festival — where it snagged the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award — along with the Cleveland, Lille, Neuchâtel Fantastic, Amman, Medfest, Marrakech Short, Medfilm, Kinofest Lünen, and SIGGRAPH - Electronic Theater film festivals. It also went on to compete at the German Camera Awards and the New York Indie Shorts Awards, where it won the Best Student Short Award.
Written and directed by Academy member Murad Abu Eisheh — who directed the Student Academy Award-winning TALA’VISION — the film stars Yasmine Nawarj, Raean Al-Masri, and Hassan Mutlag Al-Maraiyeh.
Second in the lineup is Hamza Atifi’s Moroccan short PHONEBREAKER which is screening on Saturday, April 20th at 8:15 pm.
The film recently won the Jury Prize at the seventh Festival Tasmit Du Cinéma Et De La Critique, as well as a Grand Prize for Best Short Film at the Hoceima Film Festival. It was also screened at the National Film Festival in Tangier and the Ibiza Independent Film Festival – IbizaCineFest.
PHONEBREAKER explores the story of Jalil — a washed-up employee who, in order to avenge his mother and clear his neighborhood of the incessant ringing of phones, becomes the ‘Phone Breaker’ and leads a ruthless vendetta against the telecommunications industry.
With its thought-provoking narrative, the film sheds light on the potential dangers of technological dominance and delves into the darker side of hyper-connectivity, challenging the notion that smartphones only bring convenience and exploring the consequences of our increasing reliance on technology.
The Morrocan comedy was directed and written by Hamza Atifi, lensed by Sylvain Rodriguez, and edited by Fatima-Zahra Lyanboui. The film stars Aziz Hattab, Sandia Aboutajdine, Adil Abatorab, and Samia Akariou. 
Lastly, Majdi El-Omari’s short drama MAR MAMA — screening on Sunday, April 21st at 7:35 pm — recently took home the Best Fiction Short Award of the Ismailia International Film Festival for Documentaries and Shorts, where it held its MENA premiere as part of the festival’s Short Film Competition.
The film, which world-premiered at Ireland’s Indie Cork Festival, and screened at Italy’s Al Ard Film Festival delves into the story of a young girl haunted by her mother's death and the recurring attacks on her city. Faced with these traumas, she becomes obsessed with death. 
As her father attempts to distract her by creating a stop-motion film, reality intrudes; she finds solace in her imagination and fantasies.
Written, directed, edited, and produced by El-Omari and lensed by Ashraf Dowani, MAR MAMA features a talented cast, including the award-winning Palestinian actor Ziad Bakri, who is known for SCREWDRIVER and Netflix’s THE WEEKEND AWAY, and Lana Abu Srour.