16/09/2014

Dalia Al Kury, Jordanian-Palestinian filmmaker

"I didn’t believe in my head, but in my heart I was scared of the djinn"

Jordan, Palestine

Dalia Al Kury, Jordanian-Palestinian filmmaker

Jordanian-Palestinian director Dalia Al Kury's Possessed by Djinn was one of three documentary film projects from the South Mediterranean to be awarded post-production support at the Final Cut in Venice this year. The two others were Jordanian-Palestinian director Yahya Alabdallah's The Council and Lebanese director Maher Abi Samra's A Maid for Each.

Euromed Audiovisual met with Dalia Al Kury and producer Lino Rettinger to discuss Possessed by Djinn, a film that follows the true story of Aya, a four-year-old Jordanian girl killed by her father because he believed her to be possessed. This belief in demons, or djinn, is a little-known aspect of Islamic culture.

Could you give us a brief introduction of who you are and what you do?

Dalia Al Kury: My name Dalia Al Kury. I’m a Jordanian-Palestinian filmmaker. I have made several films which have been sold to several TV stations, like  Al Arabia. This is my first European co-production film. 

Lino Rettinger: And I am the producer Lino Rettinger. I just started my producing career at Lichtblick Film in Cologne, a family company. I met Dalia at Eurodoc. I believe this is a very interesting project and I’m very happy that people actually like it, filmmakers and normal people [Laughs].  

The film has been receiving several funds. How did you come by your funding? Because of her [Dalia Al Kury]?

Lino Rettinger: [Laughs] We didn’t get any money for a very long time. After one year of work, we got the Robert Bosch fund for development. But what she [Dalia Al Kury] did is, she didn’t re-develop it, she shot right away and maybe after two years of work we had the material to persuade people [to back] the project, because it’s a subject and a kind of film that is really hard to explain via text, via written script, so when we had the trailer then doors opened up: Arte, the Robert Bosch Fund, which is a really good partner and the regional film fund in Colone. And now Venice.

Where did the idea to make a film about djinn came from?

Dalia Al Kury: Well, when I was a child, I was always like most children -- afraid of the monster under the bed, or the djinn. And then, slowly, I found a story about this girl [who] died, and I became very interested to know [how] this can become so important in our society. The djinn can be so real for other people. For me, it wasn’t real anymore. I grew up. But in fact, some people are still suffering from it. This made me very intrigued and I wanted to find this magic world right under the surface of daily life.

Lino Rettinger: The film is about irrational feelings. It was a long journey to really find out what the project is about, what is the heart of the project -- and it really transformed over a lot of time.

You play your character in the film. Does the character believe in djinns?

Dalia Al Kury: Djinns can exist very much in people’s heads. But not in reality. In my characters’ heads, it exists very much and yes, I [definitely did not believe] in them, but I started to feel scared. It’s irrational, completely irrational. I didn’t believe in my head, but in my heart I was scared of the djinn again. Like I was a child all over again.

Lino Rettinger: This is a big discussion in the team and in the whole work: How open are we going to leave the movie? I mean, of course it wouldn’t be right if we said, “The djinn is not real, let’s look at these people that she met, who believe in something that is not real.” This would be arrogant in a way. At the end of the film, we leave it very open.

How do you feel about this prize?

Lino Rettinger: The film is going to get better and better, I’m sure. Today we watched it and there’s so much to do. I’m very happy. At the beginning, as I said, we didn’t have any money, Dalia didn’t have any money, [but] now slowly this film is getting a professional quality. And I think that we need it, because we have a very underground kind of style to it. And there is a thin line from being artistic to being amateur. So for the sound, colour-correction, subtitling – this is perfect for us.

Dalia Al Kury: Yeah, really good, absolutely. 

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