All about discovering and supporting new Arab and African talent, the market arm of the Red Sea Film Festival, Red Sea Souk awarded its top prize of $100,000 to Egyptian-Palestinian director Rani Massalha’s ‘The Return Of the Prodigal Son.’ The film was a true global effort as it was co-produced by Egypt, Tunisia and France. It was deservedly awarded as the film explores the breakout of the 2009 swine flu through a political and social lens.
It follows the story of Salem, a Coptic pig farmer in Egypt and how he navigates the 2009 swine flu that sent Egypt into a spiral of panic and led the government to pass out a law to slaughter all the pigs in the country. Diving deeper into the narrative, Massalha spoke further about the power of politics and media in relation to global outbreaks, “The pigs of Egypt were ‘sacrificed’ under political pressure and hysterical media coverage organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, crystalizing the structural violence of Egyptian social relations between communities.”
Powerful narratives that dive into the challenging realities of our current world are nothing new to Massalha who is known to create socially and politically driven stories. His 2013 film, ‘Giraffada’ explores the tragic tale of a Palestinian West Bank zoo caretaker who faces the repercussions of an Israeli airstrike. In the same vein, he also made a coming-of-age film called ‘Our Lady of the Nile’ about a group of Rwandan schoolgirls at a Belgian-run Catholic boarding school who face an onslaught of racism.
These stories exploring both social and political injustice in both the Arab world and Africa deserve global recognition. That is why it is great to see the Red Sea Souk funding and supporting such narratives and bringing them further into the limelight.