Posted by on February 05, 2014 in Blog

By Margaret Lowry

This year’s Academy Awards will be a big night for Arab Cinema. Alongside the two feature-length films Omar by Hany Abu-Assad and the The Square by Arab American director Jehane Noujaim, from Palestine and Egypt respectively, a new short film from Yemen can be added to the list of nominated Arab films.

Karama Has No Walls is the first film from Yemen to be nominated for an Oscar, and the first film ever for its Yemeni-Scottish director Sara Ishaq. It will be competing against four other films for the title of Best Short Documentary. The 26-minute documentary, which gives a stark portrayal of one of the bloodiest days during the Yemeni Revolution, has already been greeted favorably in film festival circuit, winning Best Short Documentary at the United Nations Film Festival, Edindocs, and the Arab Film Festival.

Following the early stages of revolution in Tunisia and Egypt, Yemenis took to the streets of Sana’a, the nation’s capital, to protest economic conditions and, eventually, to call for the resignation of then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh. On March 18th, 2011, known now as the Friday of Karama (Dignity), what started as a peaceful demonstration turned violent when pro-government snipers opened fire on the protestors killing 53 and injuring hundreds more. Karama Has No Walls documents the events of that day through footage shot by two young cameramen.

Ishaq weaves together the footage taken during the massacre with interviews of the families of those who were in the square as violence erupted. When it is easier to detach oneself from the violence happening in the footage in front of you, Ishaq uses the interviews connect the viewer with the human faces behind the revolution. Ishaq intends for the film not just to put a humanitarian face on the struggle in Yemen, but also to highlight the “massive human rights violations committed by the regime during the revolution.”

Karama Has No Walls has not had an official US release date, but is being shown at limited pre-release screenings with other nominated shorts.

Watch the trailer:


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