23 October 2023:
Amr Gamal’s Yemeni drama THE BURDENED — which is the country’s official submission for Best Foreign Film at the 96th Academy Awards — has received the Gold Hugo Award as part of the New Directors Competition at the 59th edition of The Chicago International Film Festival, which ran from October 11th to the 22nd in Chicago, US.
Based on true events that took place in Aden around 2019, the film follows the struggles of a married couple and their three children after both husband and wife lose their jobs as a result of the country's economic crisis.
After the mother discovers she is carrying a fourth child, the beleaguered parents try to get an abortion despite their community's conservative stance, forcing the family to make tough decisions in order to survive.
After a triumphant world premiere at the Berlinale’s Panorama Section — becoming the first ever Yemeni film to be officially selected at the German festival — where it went on to win the Amnesty International Film Award and the second place Audience Award, THE BURDENED went on to screen at several prestigious film festivals and win numerous awards, including the Best Screenplay Award at Durban, the Best Directing and Best Screenplay Jury Awards at Valencia, and a Special Jury Award for Best Film at the Taipei Film Festival.
The film has also had quite the busy festival tour so far, screening at festivals such as the Shanghai, Sydney, Beijing, Golden Apricot Yerevan, Cairo, Zurich, War On Screen, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, and Rio de Janeiro film festivals, alongside competing at the Septimius Awards.
It has also garnered many positive reviews from Screen Daily, the Film Verdict, the Moveable Fest, Film Companion, Critic's Notebook, and Independent Arabia.
The film — which is co-produced by Amjad Abu Alala, who is known for YOU WILL DIE AT TWENTY, which was submitted to the Oscars' Best International Feature Film Category in 2020 as Sudan's first-ever Academy Award submission — was directed and co-written by Amr Gamal alongside Mazen Refaat, lensed by Mrinal Desai, and edited by Heba Othman. It also stars Khaled Hamdan, Abeer Mohammed, Samah Alamrani, and Awsam Abdulrahman.
In terms of the large companies at play, the film was produced by Adenium Productions and Station Films, bringing together Yemen, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia in a landmark co-production that was first brought to international attention at the 2022 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, where it earned the Works in Progress Post-Production Development Award in the festival's industry sidebar, Eastern Promises.
Additionally, MAD Solutions handles the film’s Arab world distribution, while Films Boutique handles international distribution.
Amr Gamal is an independent Yemeni film and theater director born in Poland in 1983.
In the spring of 2018, production began for his first feature film 10 DAYS BEFORE THE WEDDING. The film premiered in Aden in the summer, becoming the first film to open commercially in Yemen in three decades, the film then continued screening for over eight months and became Yemen's official submission to the Oscars in 2018.