People in Film: Annemarie Jacir (via Doha Film Institute)

Annemarie Jacir, director of WHEN I SAW YOU (2011 GFI grantee), talks to the Doha Film Institute about the inspiration and origins of her work

Photo: Doha Film Institute

(via Doha Film InstituteAnnemarie Jacir is an acclaimed filmmaker and screenwriter living in Jordan. Two of her films have premiered as official selections at the Cannes Film Festival. Her first feature film, “Salt of this Sea”, was Palestine’s official Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language Film.

Jacir lived in Saudi Arabia until the age of sixteen, and received her formal education in the United States. She began her work in the theatre, writing and directing plays. Her career in cinema began as an editor and camerawoman. She worked in the film industry in Los Angeles before attending Columbia University in New York to obtain a degree in film. She is the co-founder of Philistine Films, an independent production company which focuses on the Arab world. Jacir is also an author and poet. Her poetry and stories have been published in “Mizna”, “The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology” and the collection “Poets for Palestine”.

She lives in Amman and is currently in postproduction on her new film “When I Saw You”.

DFI: Your first feature “Salt of this Sea” was Palestine’s pick at the Oscars, and the first feature directed by a Palestinian woman. The film tells the story of a Brooklyn woman who travels to the West Bank and Israel to recover her roots. Were you discovering your roots as well?

Jacir: I had a lot of fun researching and writing the character of Soraya, a woman full of passion and flaws. I am not sure I would say she was discovering her roots because for me she has a very solid idea of who she is and where she’s coming from. But rather, her journey was to find a way to deal with the anger she feels inside of her. I think this is something many people can connect with. As for me personally, I grew up knowing my own roots but what I did pass in my life is a stage quite the contrary, in my early 20s, where I ran away from all that and tried to disappear. But that’s not this story.

DFI: How did you finally manage to produce your latest film “When I Saw You”? What were the challenges?

Jacir: “When I Saw You” was entirely financed by film funds and organizations, grants, sponsors, and private investors. It’s a low budget film, one that was shot with less than half its original budget. Shooting a film in Jordan was extremely difficult and in some ways even more difficult than shooting in Palestine. We had just enough money to shoot the film, but once we wrapped, we had to wait a few months to begin editing as we didn’t have support for post-production. Two friends in Amman actually donated a computer to us so we were able to begin the edit. [Click here to read the entire interview on Doha Film Institute’s website]

WHEN I SAW YOU received a GFI grant during the Summer 2011 granting cycle. For a list of past grant recipients, click here. For grant applications, guidelines and deadlines, click here.

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