The London-based Arab British Centre announced today the six-person shortlist for its 2013 Award for Culture, for which nominations were submitted from 20 May. The winner will be announced at an Award Ceremony to be held at Leighton House Museum, London, on Thursday 26 September.
The shortlistees are:
Palestinian visual communicator Danah Abdulla, founder, creative director and editor of Kalimat Magazine
Iraqi playwright and scientist Dr Hassan Abdulrazzak
Syria-born oud performer of Iraqi descent Khyam Allami
Daniel Gorman, a founder of Reel Festivals
Palestinian singer and musicologist Reem Kelani
Jordan-born filmmaker Amin Matalqa
The Arab British Centre has been playing an increasingly prominent role in promoting Arab culture in Britain, and in April it won the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture,. The Centre's £2,500 Culture Award celebrates the individual who is judged to have made the most constructive contribution to British understanding of Arab culture in the past two years. It is the successor to the £5,000 Arab British Culture and Society Award, which ran from 2008 to 2011.While the Arab British Culture and Society Award was open to both organisations and individuals, the revamped award has been tailored to celebrate individuals only. This year's shortlist was chosen by a panel of five judges from more than 40 applications from the world of arts and culture - including actors, musicians, curators, authors, playwrights, filmmakers and artists.
The members of the panel are distinguished experts with knowledge of the cultures of the Arab World and of the UK. The panel is chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC who was previously a chair of the judges of the Arab British Culture and Society Award. Kennedy has served as Chair of the British Council and of the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT), and is a Trustee of the British Museum and the Booker Prize.
The other panellists are: Maxime Duda, CEO and Founder of Arab New Trends; Rose Issa, a curator, writer and publisher who for the last 30 years has been promoting contemporary art and films from the Arab world and Iran; Deborah Shaw, Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and Director of the World Shakespeare Festival 2012, and Brian Whitaker, journalist and former Middle East Editor of the Guardian newspaper.
BIOS OF THE SHORTLISTEES:
DANAH ABDULLA Over the last two years, as both an individual and representing Kalimat, Abdulla has participated in numerous conferecnes, panels, organised events, and exhibitions. As well as this, Abdulla has produced a publication entirely dedicated to providing an open space for Arab creative to showcase their work. Since launching Kalimat in November 2010, the project has grown to incorporate an expanding network of contributors worldwide, and a series of events that seeks innovative ways of bringing the project to wider audiences. A designer by trade, Abdulla is currently enrolled for her PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she focuses on integrating locality in design education in Amman, Jordan, and the development of design policy. In September 2013, Abdulla organised and curated In The City, a graphic design and sound exhibition showing at P21 Gallery, London. The exhibition invites graphic designers and sound artists to reinterpret and reimagine four overlooked cities in the Middle East; Alexandria, Algiers, Baghdad and Nablus. As well as this, the exhibition will feature a number of talks, readings and screenings throughout its run at the gallery.
HASSAN ABDULRAZZAK A playwright of Iraqi origin, the plays Abdulrazzak has written thus far have all been about the Arab world. In 2012, Abdulrazzak’s second full-length play The Prophet premiered at the Gate Theatre, London. The play’s events take place during a single day, January 28th 2011, the start of the Egyptian revolution. The Prophet has been described as “a vivid picture of the way public corruption invades private life”, Michael Billington, The Guardian; “Visceral, verbally dextrous, edgy, exciting, darkly humorous and downright riveting”, What’s On Stage; “Abdulrazzak’s script is laced with witticisms and colourful symmetry”, The New Statesmen; “a gripping non-stop ninety minutes that mixes humour with visceral excitement”, The British Theatre Guide; “bright, sexy, dirty, critical, sarcastic and beautifully wrought. It buzzes with psychological insight and radical references; Abdulrazzak’s confident storytelling is faultless, and this play about betrayal and moral courage comes in the guise of a thriller…[the] play is immensely satisfying”, Alex Sierz, The Arts Desk. Abdulrazzak is currently working on a feature film, a TV film and two plays.
KHYAM ALLAMI Allami’s critically acclaimed 2011 debut album Resonance/Dissonance, was a profound and honest work representing his attempts at the process of “individuation” which was marked by the 2003 US/UK war on Iraq and directly questioned his relationship with himself, his country of origin, his past, present and future. Since its release he has toured across the UK, Europe and the Arab world. Allami was chosen by Scottish director Anthony Nielson to compose new music and re-set all the songs in his revival of Peter Weisse’s seminal play Marat/Sade as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 50 Year Anniversary programming. His 2011 collaboration with the London based acapella trio Voice, was a new work commissioned from British composer Marcus Davidson for three voices, oud and cello, using the poem The Ziggurat Builders by Iraqi-Assyrian poet Sargon Boulus (translated by the author himself). This was the first time ever that Sargon Boulus’s work was set to music. In 2012 Allami dedicated all of his UK based opportunities to creating new projects with contemporary musicians from the Arab world; Double Duo with Ahmad Al Khatib (Palestine), Youssef Hbeisch (Palestine) and Andrea Piccioni (Italy), and the Alif Ensemble with Tamer Abu Ghazaleh (Palestine), Maurice Louca (Egypt), Khaled Yassine (Lebanon), and Bashar Farran (Lebanon).
DANIEL GORMAN Over the past six years, Gorman has developed several large-scale festivals and long-term exchange and translation projects which have focused on his goal of fostering dialogue between communitis in the UK and Arab world. In 2007, Gorman co-founded Reel Festivals which now takes place on an annual basis and in 2012, Reel Syria took place in London and Edinburgh. Artists such as Ali Ferzat and Samih Choukeir were brought to the UK as well as independent documentary films courtesy of DoxBox; The National reported that ‘Reel Syria gives British audiences a look beyond the conflict’. In 2013, Gorman coordinated Reel Iraq, a wide ranging project showcasing a range of contemporary Iraqi arts which included over fifty events in nine cities in the UK. In 2011, Gorman also organised a number of poetry exchange projects involving Arab and British poets which included a workshop where a series of short films by British-Iranian director Roxana Vilk were created. These films led to the development of a six part ‘Poets of Protest’ series which was aired on Al Jazeera.
REEM KELANI For over 20 years, Kelani has been putting herself out into communities across the UK and connecting with people, through her concerts, lectures, workshops and her radio work.
In July 2013, Kelani delivered workshops in Egyptian song to some 180 Year 3 and Year 5 children at two schools in Kent. In April 2013, as part of Kelani’s tour in Seattle and Vancouver, she gave a master class at the prestigious Cornish College of the Arts. In May 2011, she gave a master class to over 70 students and tutors at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Closer to home, Kelani has been a visiting lecturer at Goldsmiths College for the past decade. In 2012, Radio 4 broadcast ‘Songs for Tahrir’, which was researched, written and presented by Kelani, about her experiences in Cairo from the beginning of the revolution in 2011. BBC figures suggest that over 1 million people will have listened to Kelani’s analysis of the songs and their musical and political components, and the broadcast was in ‘Pick of the week’ for online programmes. Kelani’s work on introducing Arabic music to British listeners took another edge, when she contributed her arrangement of an anthemic Tunisian song as part of the Anti-Capitalist Roadshow.
In 2003, Matalqa quit his successful corporate career to pursue filmmaking fulltime, an act he deems “mad”. Ten years on, Matalqa has graduated from the American Film Institute, directed three feature films, 27 short films and written over twenty screenplays. When Matalqa set out to make Captain Abu Raed in Jordan in 2007, there was no Jordanian film industry and most thought it would be a failed experiment. Matalqa and his team raised $2 million from private Jordanian investors, hired a cast of non-actors (apart from the lead, played by Nadim Sawalha), taught local crews as they went along and ended up making a film that not only had critical and festival success, but went on to play in theatres internationally which is a rare feat for an Arabic language film. Matalqa’s second feature film, The United was due to take place in Egypt pre-revolution, 2010, but when the Egyptian producers failed to deliver their promises, Disney slammed the brakes on the film and stopped the entire plan. Matalqa therefore, rewrote the script, set the film in Jordan but retained the pan-Arab cast led by an Egyptian star and Disney agreed. Although the uprisings in the Middle East pushed Disney to threaten shutting down the production, Matalqa and his team kept convincing everyone to keep going and the film is currently rolling out to 80 countries across the world.
For further information contact: Ruba Asfahani | email@example.com | 020 7832 1310