ABU DHABI // Mahmoud Kaabour has done his grandmother proud.
The Lebanese director, who lives in Dubai, was named the winner of the $100,000 Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday.
"It was just beautiful," Kaabour said from Tunisia yesterday, en route to the Carthage Film Festival. "I felt very hopeful that the story we're trying to say is getting the recognition of the big guns."
Kaabour's film, a poignant tale of family and heritage titled Teta, Alf Marra (Grandma, A Thousand Times), is the first documentary produced by a partner of Abu Dhabi's twofour54 Arabic media content project.
"This prize shows that the region can produce great content that can compete at international events," said Wayne Borg, the chief operating officer at twofour54.
The award was presented by the actor Robert De Niro. "The name of my film coming from his [De Niro's] mouth was so vindicating," Kaabour said.
Teta, Alf Marra is a celebration and a tribute. It tells the story of Kaabour's grandmother, Teta, a sharp-witted octogenarian who lives alone in an old flat in Beirut. She, in turn, tells the story of her late husband, a violinist.
The director said he hopes that the film's appeal is universal.
"My grandmother has become a grandmother for so many people around the Arab world now," he said. "We've shown the world now that a story like this has legs."
The 48-minute film was produced by Abu Dhabi's Veritas Films, a company Kaabour founded.
After the Carthage festival, where the film is nominated for Best Documentary, Kaabour hopes the film will make the rounds at the US festival circuit and show at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in April.
News on the UAE, Lebanese and European premieres of Teta, Alf Marra is to be announced soon.