Cynthia Madanat Sharaiha’s ‘Saleem’ to be first Jordanian film at Annecy Animation Festival 2023

Director Cynthia Madanat Sharaiha, best known for “Noor” and “Our Family Life,” turns the intricate details of daily living in Jordan in her debut feature film, “Saleem,” which is currently playing in competition at the Annecy Animation Festival.

The film is the first Jordanian to be selected for the festival, according to reports. It is one of 10 films in this year’s Contrechamp strand, which also includes Pablo Berger’s bizarre love story “Robot Dreams,” which was a hit at Cannes.
Madanat Sharaiha draws on the rich heritage of storytelling in her culture to offer a more comprehensive perspective and dispel stereotypes.

She interprets local customs into colorful, wide-eyed depictions of loud and charming children, their parents, and the enticing provincial setting. Although we are a culture that values storytelling, not all of our tales are heard by others. We didn’t want to paint the Middle East as idealized, politicized, or magical; instead, we wanted to present a different type of story. According to Madanat Sharaiha, “Ours is a contemporary story that portrays the culture, a more diverse atmosphere, and something distinct from what people typically see.

As a family adventure, “Saleem” tells the story of a refugee who has recently lost his father. A young boy with a mound of sorrow who must adjust to a new neighborhood. He quickly befriends others in an effort to control his turbulent emotions, and the group soon finds itself sidetracked by an exciting heist, according to Variety. Madanat Sharaiha says, “We didn’t want to tell a story of a child from an adult perspective, but from what children feel and experience, in their innocence, their strength, and also weakness. We worked with psychologists to ensure the accurate portrayal of childhood distress in the film.”

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