One of the most exciting titles which competed at the 2021 edition of the Cairo International Film Festival was Zaid Abu Hamdan's Daughters of Abdulrahman, about a quartet of quarreling sisters who come together to find their missing father. The film ended up winning the Youssef Cherif Rizkallah Audience Award, which is always a great indication of audiences loving a film, yet critics didn't seem to understand the great power of it. For a male filmmaker to make a film about four women, and find within them the nuances necessary to sell the audience his story, and his characters, is really pretty exceptional. When we talk about the Arab world, that task becomes downright prodigious. And yet esteemed critics whom I personally admire called the film "contrived" and the characters "stereotyped".
I have to wholeheartedly disagree.
There is nothing commonplace about Daughters of Abdulrahman. The film stars four formidable actresses Saba Mubarak, Hanan Hillo, Farah Bsaiso and Mariam Basha, features a script by Abu Hamdan which felt like I had finally found something that showed women being women. And being women within the confines of the Arab world. But that is the problem when most critics talking about such a film are men, and non-Arabs. Film criticism is a craft that is missing in large part within the MENA region, particularly in the trades and in English language publications. So we are subjected to a mixture of uninspired reviews that perhaps come from too personal a place. They almost seem a personal attack in some cases.
Later in June, Abu Hamdan's great film will have the privilege to compete for the Golden Lynx Award for Best Fiction feature film as well as the CinEuropa Audience Award for Best Feature Film at the upcoming 18th edition of FEST – New Directors /New Films Festival, Portugal, from June 20-27. Daughters of Abdulrahman will be the first Jordanian film to be featured in the festival.
Recently, the film has been commercially released into Saudi and Kuwaiti theaters. Additionally, it opened the Malmo Arab Film Festival in Sweden, and won the Audience Award at San Diego Arab Film Festival, USA. After it world premiered in Cairo, it screened as part of the Beirut International Women Film Festival and at the inaugural edition of Red Sea International Film Festival.
The recipient of many film funds around the Region and abroad, Daughters of Abdulrahman received the Doha Film Institute development fund, the Jordan Film Fund of the Royal Film Commission development and production funds, as well as a fund from CineGouna Platform (post-production) from El Gouna Film Festival. It was also selected among the finalist projects at the Tribeca Film Festival - All Access program, and for RFC Rawi Screenwriters Lab.
This year's edition of FEST will open with Lullaby by Alauda Ruiz De Azúa and close with Sundown by Michel Franco, featuring Tim Roth.
Worldwide sales for Daughters of Abdulrahman are handled by MAD Solutions.