Winning Films from the 2011 Eye to Heart Film Contest
AIC’s Eye to Heart film contest asked young artists across the Middle East to explore character development, specifically looking at how individuals can shape a better future for themselves through positive values. From hundreds of submissions from 24 countries, finalist films were selected by a celebrity judging panel. These films comprise the heart of the festival and include:

  • Sign of the Times: A striking allegory about the illusion of free speech in repressive societies, where characters speak only in written signs. When a man enters into a cafe and actually speaks aloud, the people around him to a painful realization about their stunted expression and struggle to discover their real voices.
  • Unlocked: A successful artist is afflicted by the “locked-in syndrome” but refuses to accept the disease’s toll: being paralyzed in all muscles except the eyes. He remains convinced that he can positively shape his future and invests his energy into finding a cure. The film is a provocative advocacy piece about a disease few are aware of – as well as an allegory for an activist’s refusal to accept repression.
  • An Entrepreneur’s Journey: A self-portrait by a young Lebanese businesswoman who takes a risk and decides to start her own business. The filmmaker frankly chronicles the fragile process of launching her own venture, illustrating how an entrepreneurial spirit, coupled with hard work and motivation, is the key ingredient for success.
  • Beeshou: A Syrian filmmaker critiquing brutal repression dares not show his face – so he instead uses his hands. The result is an ingenious finger-puppet show that mocks a quasi-sacred figure in Syrian society. The film tells two remarkable stories: one being ostensible plot of the puppets and the other the bravery of young Syrians who, simply by placing their hands inside puppets, are risking their lives.
  • Freedom:  A visually compelling and provocative take on a woman’s struggle to achieve independence. On the one hand, the film depicts how women remain shackled in contemporary society, torn between the chains of tradition and their desire to lead free lives. On the other hand, the work tells a universal story of an individual yearning for a better future yet struggling to overcome the burdens of the present.

A Force More Powerful (Arabic – 55 minutes for each part)
Narrated by Oscar winner Ben Kingsley, this Emmy-nominated six-episode series explores how nonviolent power has overcome oppression and authoritarian rule all over the world.The first part spotlights black students in Tennessee trying to desegregate lunch counters as well as Gandhi’s famous Salt March protest against a British salt monopoly in India.The second part spotlights a consumer boycott campaign against apartheid in South Africa and Danish civil disobedience during the Nazi’s occupation. 

2081 (English – 25 minutes) 

This stunning short film is an adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron.” 2081 depicts a dystopian future in which everyone is “finally equal….” The strong wear weights, the beautiful wear masks and the intelligent wear earpieces that fire off loud noises to keep them from taking unfair advantage of their brains. It is a poetic tale of triumph and tragedy about a broken family, a brutal government, and an act of defiance that changes everything. Narrated by Academy Award Nominee Patricia Clarkson, the film features James Cosmo (Braveheart, Trainspotting), Julie Hagerty (What About Bob?), and Armie Hammer (The Social Network). 

UDHR animated (Arabic – 20 minutes)

To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights in 1988, award-winning director Stephen Johnson brought together 41 of the most talented international animators, musicians and producers to create this unique work. The minute video brings to life the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in brilliant color.

Breaking The Silence (Arabic/English – 12 minutes) 

Breaking the Silence chronicles the lives and injustices against the Akhdam women in Yemen, part of a social group in Yemen that is distinct from the majority by their darker skin and African descent. Although Arabic-speaking and practicing Muslims, they are regarded as non-Arabs and designated as a low caste group, frequently discriminated against and confined to unskilled and menial labor. This film, produced by Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights and WITNESS, featuring the stories and voices of these three women, Haddah, Qobol, and Om Ali recounting their stories of violence, injustice and forced poverty uncover the legacy of discrimination the ‘Akhdam’ live with daily and the necessity for urgent action against these atrocities.