DJEDDAH: As the Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudi Arabia nears mid-term, junkets featuring artists from the Arab world are giving a more in-depth look at their films. Arab News has caught up with the cast of “The Alleys” to find out more.
The Jordanian feature film, one of 16 Arab and international films in the Red Sea Competition category, tells the story of an alleyway in eastern Amman depicting a toxic mix of gossip and violence. One thing is certain: the dark corners of the alley are full of secrets.
Directed by Bassel Ghandour, who produced and co-wrote Naji Abu Nawar’s winning Bafta film “Theeb”, the film tells the story of Ali, a con artist who masquerades as a regular businessman trying to ‘swindle enough money to legitimize his relationship with Lana, his secret lover. Meanwhile, Lana’s mother is blackmailed by someone who claims to have filmed Lana and Ali together; Ali knows a man who can fix the situation, but that kind of solution will only lead to another crisis of deception and disclosure.
“The Alleys” is Ghandour’s directorial debut. It had its world premiere at the Locarno Film Festival and its Arabic premiere at the Red Sea Film Festival.
The Alleys has received support from the Jordan Film Fund of the Royal Film Commission of Jordan, the Doha Film Institute in Qatar and the Red Sea Film Festival for Film Development in Saudi Arabia.
The film won the jury prize for the Eastern Promises Filmmaking program at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic 2021.
He also received two awards at the Cairo International Film Festival for feature films in post-production phase.
The cast includes Jordanian actor Mondher Rayahne, who played Abaas in the film and is best known for his roles as a knight or prince in Bedouin and historical series.
He said Jordanians live in a multicultural society: “We presented work that touches on a global humanitarian problem. This sheds light not only on a Jordanian question, but a universal one. “
“Our film represents a Jordanian neighborhood with its very simple identity, but we aspire to represent it in an artistic form,” he said.
“The stories never end, there are a lot of alleys and there are a lot of great stories waiting for us to present them.”
Rayahne expressed his fascination with the festival and the level of Saudi films being shown. “My relationship with Saudi society is very close and it has a long history. We showed the film in Jeddah, a city very dear to my personal heart, and I am very happy with the audience’s reaction and their feedback on our film, ”he said. “Saudi Arabia is teeming with theatrical and cinematic intellectual talent and I am happy with the greatness they have achieved so far.”
Mohammed Geezawi, who played Bahaa in the film, said this genre is very controversial because it raises many important issues, such as intimidation, extortion and fraud: “‘The Alleys’ says a lot about the Jordanian street. “
Imad Azmy, who played Ali, said his presence at the inaugural festival is a very important step in his artistic career.
“The festival will put the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the map of international film festivals, and it is an achievement that we are all proud of as Arabs,” he said. “The film was shown to our Arab audience for the first time in Saudi Arabia, and its place in this great event is a great thing for all of us. I was very interested to see the audience reactions to the film, and I have to say I was very happy.
Jordanian actress Baraka Al-Rahmani, who played Lana, said she would like to see many films similar to “The Alleys” because, she said, Jordan is a country with rich hidden societal histories. in its alleys.