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The writer and director Annemarie Jacir says help from the festival's SANAD fund provided her creative freedom. Larry Busacca / AFP
The writer and director Annemarie Jacir says help from the festival's SANAD fund provided her creative freedom. Larry Busacca / AFP

Annemarie Jacir's When I Saw You gets Ramadan cinema release

The Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir, whose movie took Abu Dhabi Film Festival's Best Arab Film award, says her film is 'a journey of the human spirit that knows no borders'.

It has been almost a year since When I Saw You premiered at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF) 2012.

Thursday, the 93-minute drama returns to the emirate with its theatrical release at Vox Cinemas at Marina Mall.

The Palestinian writer and director Annemarie Jacir says things are about to get "really exciting". When I Saw You opened last month in Jordanian cinemas and, following the Abu Dhabi release, will continue to cinemas in Switzerland, UK, Greece and Belgium.

Jacir says this international reach will give the film a chance to "really become its own thing" as it reaches an audience other than the typical film festival crowd.

Described as "a journey of the human spirit that knows no borders", When I Saw You follows a young Palestinian mother, Ghaydaa (Ruba Blal), and her 11-year-old son, Tarek (Mahmoud Asfa), who are forced to flee to a refugee camp in Jordan during the 1967 Palestinian-Israeli war.

It is Jacir's second feature film following her first, the acclaimed Salt of This Sea, in 2008.

When I Saw You, which won the Best Arab Film award in the New Horizons section at last year's ADFF, was supported by the film festival's SANAD fund in the scripting and post-production stages.

According to Jacir, the premise of the funding is an incentive to continue making films in the UAE: "Unlike many funds from Europe, [here] they have no requirements, no conditions that say I have to work with certain nationalities or with specific companies."

She says this meant she could make the film she wanted to make. "There is nothing more important for a filmmaker."

Jacir revealed she is currently writing a new film which has "a connection to the UAE".

When I Saw You was deliberately timed for a Ramadan release, she says.

"The film is very much a family film. So I believe it is a great activity for a family during Ramadan."

The weather might also have had something to do with it.

"[For] those wanting to escape the July heat, there is not better place to be than a dark, cool theatre."

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