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'Ramad' bags coveted Golden Oyster at Nouakchott International Film Festival

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The Omani short film ‘Ramad’ directed by Sulaiman al Khalili, achieved a remarkable milestone by clinching the top prize for the best international short feature film – the Golden Oyster – at the inaugural session of the Nouakchott International Film Festival 2023 in Mauritania. This honour marks a significant triumph for the film and the burgeoning film industry in the Sultanate of Oman, reflecting the country's growing ambitions on the global stage.

Produced by the Omani Film Society as part of their strategic plan to bolster domestic film production, "Ramad" offers a poignant narrative set in a mountain village during the 1990s. The story unfolds when a teenage daughter of a local family is found to be pregnant and faced with societal pressure. A doctor, however, strives to save her life after uncovering a medical error.

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Suleiman al Khalili, the film's writer and director, expressed his elation at winning the top honour for the best short narrative film in an international film festival. He emphasised that this achievement is not just a personal triumph but a collective success for the entire team involved in the making of the film. It symbolises a significant addition to Oman's film industry, showcasing the country's potential on the global cinema stage. Al Khalili's enthusiasm stems from the fact that "Ramad" had only recently participated in the Bahrain Film Festival earlier in the month and the International Islamic Film Festival in Kazan, Russia, last September.

Youssef al Balushi, one of the lead actors in "Ramad," highlighted the film's journey from its first screening to its presence in various film festivals, where it garnered acclaim and recognition. The film's participation in the Nouakchott International Film Festival's debut session holds a special place as the festival is known for its stiff competition and renowned names, significantly contributing to the realms of Arab and African cinema. Al Balushi credits the Omani Film Society as a major driving force behind the success of "Ramad" and the broader Omani film industry, offering crucial support to various films that have made a mark at regional and international festivals.

"Ramad" is a testament to the creative potential of Omani filmmakers, and Al Balushi believes that winning an international award is a source of pride for every filmmaker in Oman. Such accolades underscore that Omani filmmakers are formidable competitors on the world stage and that the country's film production is on a trajectory of growth, putting Oman on the global film production map. Successes like these serve as a motivating force for filmmakers to continue their pursuit of excellence in future projects.

While reflecting on the challenges faced during the production of "Ramad," Al Khalili highlighted financial constraints, logistical support, and marketing as some of the prominent hurdles. The film's narrative demanded a specific, mountainous village setting, requiring extensive research and increasing production costs. Additionally, the film's historical context required meticulous attention to detail. Despite these challenges, the entire film crew's unwavering dedication and hard work prevailed.

The director emphasised the importance of dedicating considerable attention to film production. Filmmaking is a complex process that requires patience, from the inception of the story to its development, production, and post-production stages. Creativity is at the heart of filmmaking, and through relentless effort and commitment, filmmakers can achieve positive and impactful results.

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