DIFF Daily 2010

DIFF’s post-production support programme announces latest project

Dec 18,2010 - 01:00 PM

BEN WALTERS talks to the team of ‘Round Trip’ (‘Rehleh’), the latest project to benefit from Enjaaz support

Seeing something through to the end can be hard for both romantic couples and filmmakers – something known to the characters at the heart of ‘Round Trip’ (‘Rehleh’) and its makers, writer-director Meyar Al Roumi and producer Jérome Bleitrach.

The story follows two young lovers who, frustrated at the lack of privacy in Damascus, embark on an overland voyage to Tehran. But as initial euphoria at their new freedom gives way to the arduous nuances of day-to-day life, the future of their relationship comes into doubt.

About 90 percent of the film has been shot and edited, with eight days of shooting to be completed before February. The production received a boost yesterday [Fri] with the announcement of backing from Enjaaz, DIFF’s post-production support programme.

‘Getting Enjaaz funding was crucial because we’re at the specific stage where shooting is nearly done but it’s not yet ready to show to distributors,’ says Bleitrach. ‘The worldwide market is rough these days and they want to see a finished film.’

He stresses the project’s unusual status in both production and content terms. ‘Only one or two theatrical features are produced a year in Syria. The regional aspect of the story is that marriage is a big question – they can’t try out the relationship for two or three years, as in Europe, so the pressure is high. And the tone of the film is complex – it’s conflicting, it’s not purely rational. They’re discovering things about themselves as well as each other. Also the scenery is amazing and it speaks more than the characters. It reminds me of “Voyage to Italy” – you don’t have all the keys.’

Al Roumi, a director of photography now helming his first feature, explains the class element to the story. ‘I know middle class couples who live together outside marriage but the film is about a working class couple where it’s more difficult. They don’t actually mention marriage in the film but there are references to the background. By the end, though, it goes beyond that – not so much whether they’ll get married as whether they’ll stay together.’

He also stresses the value of DIFF backing. ‘This is something very much lacking in Syria, a structure to finance projects whose priority isn’t commercial but artistic. Films have the right to exist even if they aren’t commercial or for television. There’s still an audience interested in films about society, about problems, about love, not just action movies.’


Enjaaz is Dubai Film Market’s post-production support programme. If you are a filmmaker of Arab origin and working on a film whose story is centred on the Arab world, Arab history or Arab culture, you are eligible to apply for Enjaaz, which aims to support a maximum of 15 projects per year.

2011 submissions ARE NOW OPEN. The deadline for the first cycle is FEBRUARY 1, 2011. For more information Enjaaz visit http://www.dubaifilmfest.com

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