The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture – AFAC is happy to announce the selection of 23 projects to receive grants from the first cycle of its Creative and Critical Writings program – CCW.
Launched in 2018, the Creative and Critical Writings category is a new grants program that builds on AFAC previous support for literature through the Literature grants program (2007-2013) and the AFAC Novel Writing Program (2014-2016), but which expands into areas that are in need of support.
The 2018 jury committee for the Creative and Critical Writings program brought together novelist Najwa Ben Shatwan (Libya), assistant professor of Arabic literature at the American University of Beirut Zeina G. Halabi (Lebanon), and novelist, and professor of higher education at the Manouba University in Tunisia Chokri Al-Mabkhout (Tunisia) .
AFAC received 117 applications of which 90% were submitted by individuals (39% females and 51% males) and 10% came from institutions. The submitted projects were distributed among Egypt (39%), Syria (15%), Lebanon (14%), Palestine (9%), Morocco (8%), Tunisia (3%),Yemen (3%), Jordan (3%), Sudan (3%), Iraq (2%) and France (1%). The distribution of submitted projects by type came as follows: short stories (22%), critical books (20%), children’s books (15%), poetry (11%), theatrical texts (10%), online platforms (6%), graphic novels (4%), workshops (1%) and others (7%).
After two days of meetings and discussions on the 2nd and 3rd of August 2018, the jury selected 23 projects to receive a total of $219,000 in grants. The selected projects hail from Egypt (8), Syria (6), Lebanon (4), Morocco (1), Palestine (1), Sudan (1), Yemen (1) and France/Tunisia (1).
Commenting on the reviewed applications and selected projects, the jury stated:
“The Jury Committee of the Creative and Critical Writings category has reviewed and evaluated approximately 90 creative and critical projects, from which twenty-three were selected. These selected projects ranged from literary writings (poem, short story, theater, comics, stories for the youth) to critical works in the fields of photography, music, theater, the relationship between literature and censorship, graffiti, and others.
The Jury Committee has encouraged works which meet on a number of important cultural concerns, while still very diverse with respect to genre and their authors’ interests. Some of the works have focused on the local, national and nationalistic memories through imagery, music, and theater experiments, as well as on the memory of spaces and places with its transformations and architectural layers.
Despite the variety of creative literary genres, the Jury Committee members have noticed commonalities among the projects they chose to support. In poetry for example, the supported projects dwelled in the prose poem and its aesthetics, focusing on the day-to-day life, intimacy and the formulation of distinctive poetic traits.
The selected short stories, on the other hand, attempted various methods in approaching the details of daily life and the concerns of the Arab citizen through irony, fantasy and dreams. We feel this as well in the theater plays which are daring in dealing with suppressed topics, tackled with an advanced aesthetic vision and an intellectual awareness that turns such topics into issues of common concern.
Finally, the critical writing projects were an indication of the growing interest in issues of the individual and their various manifestations. Some dealt with the emergence of the individual self in Arabic music, while others addressed the issue of the body, burdened with the repressive representations of today’s consumerist society. Other critical works touch upon the issues of censorship, writing, ethics and law.
The Jury Committee also chose to support electronic cultural platforms, specialized in cinema criticism, the documentation of the artistic memory of theater and music, and the expansion of the network of relations between Arab and Kurdish writers.
What distinguish these various works is that they range from the narrow local to the national with a broad humanistic vision and advanced intellectual and aesthetic approaches that are able to imagine alternative cultures that lie on the margin of the prevailing culture.”
The Winning Projects
Afraid to Tell What I Feel (working title) by Fayrouz Karawya
Al Hamesheyoun - The Undercommons by Dina El Deeb
Chez the Maidenly Madam by Zain Alabedein Saleh
Digital History of British Colonial Cairo: Media and the Potentialities of History by Shehab Ismail
Documenting Lebanon by Mohamed Soueid
Electronic Cultural Platform RE by RE
Essays in Cinema Criticism by Archipels Images
Failing Exercise in Living by Hiba Mehrez
Heraz Mekamkm by Ahmed Naji
I Kick the House and Go Out by Nesrine Khoury
Jelly Bird by Charles Elakl
Lebanese Pop Sex by Roger Outa
Marsah – Theater Texts by Masrah Ensemble
Media by Hanadi Zarka
Saleh Abdel-Hay: Jockey of Arab Music by Moheb Mohamed Ali
Shams and the Monsters by Feras Hatem
Sleep Thieves by Amgad El Sabban
The Author Has Another Memory by Samer Asham
The Dramatheque - Radical experience of HAKAWATI Theatre/ Lebanon by Hanane Hajj Ali
The Grand Nights by Ahmed Shalaby
The Holocaust of New Arts - Shock and Deterritorialization in Arab Contemporary Art by Labo Beckett pour les arts contemporains de la scène
Where Is My Stuff by Ayman Abdolsalam
Writing and Return by Dalia Taha