Post Production Film Projects

Concrete Land

Country: Jordan

Rntime: 90 min

Synopsis

Concrete land is a portrait of a family of three generations of Palestinian Bedouins living in tents in one of Amman’s fast changing neighborhoods. The Najjar family was historically a nomadic family in Palestine. More than 7o years ago they moved to Jordan as a result of the war in Palestine. Until this day they live as nomads. This is their story. 

Abu Awad and Hakima have been married for the past 50 years. They live with their son Awad and his wife and six children. Their home is nestled in this beautiful land next to one of the few forests in Amman. For 21 years the family has prospered on the land. But instead of living inside concrete buildings, the Najjar family lives under tents. 

Raised as a Bedouin his entire life, Awad is sweet and loving to his family. As the main breadwinner for the family, he is its backbone. Awad works night and day on his truck. Barely making ends meet. Awad’s favorite daughter is Eman. She attend school where she is consistently one of the best students in her class. But her heritage doesn’t go unnoticed. She looks different. At school kids bully her. Her teacher asks her questions she can’t answer. At the same time, she herself is struggling with coming of age. Inside a Bedouin tent she has no privacy. As she experiments with makeup, her family firmly disagrees with her methods. “All I want is to be a normal girl. Just like the other girls” she says to her Mom. 

Awad’s mother, Hakima, is a strong woman presence at the home. She speaks her mind. Keeps herself busy at home and loves her pet sheep (Badrya). With a pink necklace Badrya is the most spoiled member of the family. Hakima spoils her with Oreo snacks and Fanta as Badrya purrs in delight when petted and taken on walks.  

Hakima’s relationship with her husband Abu Awad is turbulent. They sometimes scream and shout at other. Hakima finds Abu Awad a drama queen and often makes fun of his antics when he complains. But Abu Awad himself has lived a long life. At 80 years old he has lived his whole life as a nomad. He loves his life with all its troubles. The city life does not tempt him even though he sings old folk songs about the allure of the city. His traditional orange dyed henna hair give him an eccentric look. But deep inside he is a nomad who is not willing to change his ways. But soon his world and his family’s are challenged.  

The fast-growing neighborhood has recently become a popular hub for new high class housing developments. The family’s quiet life is turned upside down. Their tents surrounded by villas and fancy apartment buildings. The noise of construction is deafening.  Their new city neighbors unable to bear the smell of the livestock in the land next door. 

The tension between the new neighbors and the Najar family grows worse by the day. Abu Yasser specifically can’t handle the situation anymore. The plastic bags. The smell of sheep. The burning fire every night. He can’t bare it anymore. He files a formal complaint with the local government against the family’s living situation, two government officials show up and hand the family an eviction notice. They either get rid of their livestock or move. The family faces an existential crisis. They have to make a decision fast.

Awad and Hakima decide to confront Abu Yasser. Hakima is optimistic they can convince him to keep their livestock. Their livelihood. But as they speak to him they realize quickly that this won’t happen. Abu Yasser says things are at a point of no return. The Najjar family must leave. 

In their family tent, the Najjar get together to make the hard decision, of letting their livestock go. As they sell them they find themselves as Bedouins without their animals for the first time ever. This takes a hard hit on the family and sends them in a downward spiral.

As moving day approaches, Awad has to make a decision, of either moving with his kids to an apartment building and abandoning the traditional life his father wants or if he move to continue to be with his parents. Living the Bedouin life he was born to live.

Eventually the family accepts their fate and the realization that they have no other choice but to move. Awad finds an empty land nearby, he decides with his mother that it would be a good choice for them to restart their life and move there. A new piece of land. A fresh start. As nighttime settles Awad burns the last remaining pieces of his old life. He starts a fire to burn what remains of the chicken coop. With his youngest son watching on (Hamoudeh), Awad’s life contemplations come to a heed.  Awad talks to Hamoudeh in deep contemplation “People think we are dangerous but we have never harmed anyone. But people are heartless. No one cares about anyone anymore.” “You are my only son Hamoudeh. You have to be a man after I am gone. Take care of your mother and sisters. Never hurt them. Guide them. Show them right from wrong. You have to pray and be close to God. I work day and night to provide for you. Unlike you, I had no chance to get an education. I never even went to school in my life. My father never sent me. After I am gone, you will be the man of the house. The backbone of your sisters.” As Awad walks away. Hamoudeh stairs blankly at the fire. Hamoudeh can’t fully comprehend what his father is saying and why his father is talking to him so seriously. As the wood continues to burn. Awad’s spirit is broken. Defeated, he walks away into the dark night.

 

Director: Asmahan Bkerat

Asmahan Bkerat is a Palestinian-Jordanian Documentary filmmaker based in Amman. Her love for cinema has led her to work in various roles on film sets of different scales. As an assistant director, Bkerat has worked on international promos for the UEFA, as well as the upcoming German documentary feature WATERPROOF (2019). As a camera assistant, she has worked on Hollywood blockbusters such as Disney’s ALADDIN (2019) and Sky One’s STRIKE BACK.

Bkerat’s first short documentary “Badrya” won the Jury Prize for Best MiniDoc at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival. She is currently working on her first feature-length documentary “HAKIMA”, as well having two short documentaries in post.

Asmahan also works as a free journalist, and advocate for marginalized communities in Jordan, as well as research regarding refugees issues in adapting to their new living.

 

Producer: Sahar Yousefi

Sahar Yousefi is a producer based in Dubai. Prior to establishing her production company, Nava Projects, Yousefi was a production coordinator and researcher at the National Film Board of Canada, where she worked on various features and interactive new media content, such as the award-winning NFB SPACE SCHOOL. She later went on to work as an associate producer at R. Paul Miller’s Dubai-based production company, Film Solutions, where she worked on the Image Nation-financed SCALES (2019), winner of the Verona Award at the 2019 Venice Film Festival. As an independent producer, she produced four narrative short films, including A SUICIDE AT THE GUN RANGE (2015) and PLAY REWIND PLAY (2016), as well as projects commissioned by various international clients, such as editorial documentary shorts for VICE Arabia and an upcoming documentary series with showrunner Dave O’Connor (NETFLIX’s Abstract: The Art of Design). Her most recent feature film as writer and producer, the Telefilm-funded documentary PLAY YOUR GENDER, won the Edith Lando Peace Prize, among other accolades, and is currently playing on CBC’s Documentary Channel. Her latest documentary, the short animation IN THE SHADOW OF THE PINES, premiered at the 2020 Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival and received an honourable mention for the Betty Youson Award. It is currently screening on CBC Gem.

Yousefi has a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Development Studies and Spanish and Latin American Studies from Dalhousie University and speaks five languages. She is an alumnus of the Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative’s Film 5 Program, the Hot Docs Accelerator Program, the RIDM Talent Lab, and the BANFF Spark Accelerator, as well as a member of the Canadian Media Producer’s Association, the Documentary Organization of Canada, and Women in Film & Television. She currently has several series in funded development via various bvvroadcasters and her development slate also includes narrative, interactive, and documentary projects with many award-winning filmmakers, including

Amirah Tajdin (2018 Sundance Writer’s Lab and Director’s Lab, 2015, Cannes Director’s Fortnight), Yassmina Karajah (2018 Russo Brothers

Fellowship Award, MoMA New Directors/New Films 2018), and Zain Duraie (2019 Venice Film Festival, Torino Film Lab), among others.

 

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