House in the Fields – 2017 John Marshall Award for Contemporary Ethnographic Media

2017 John Marshall Award winner – House in the Fields

We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2017 John Marshall Award for Contemporary Ethnographic Media at the Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) this past fall. Now in it’s third year, the award was presented to Tala Hadid for her film House in the Fields, an intimate portrait of an Amazigh (Berber) community in the North Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The film focuses on the lives of two teenage sisters. Khadija wants to continue her education and become a lawyer. Her older sister, Fatima, is engaged to be married and has withdrawn from school.

Hadid spent five years visiting and filming in the remote community, and she delivers a sensitive portrayal of the everyday lives of the girls, shaped as they are by rural-urban tensions, and as Amazigh within the Moroccan nation-state. This nuanced portrayal made the film a natural contender for the John Marshall Award, and it was Hadid’s lovely and subtle collaboration with the girls that carried the film to the award.

Hadid allows the sisters to shape the film, not only by picking up the camera themselves, but by re-enacting their dreams. A deep grounding in the perspective of these girls provides the framing for the film and its portrayal of their community. Late in the film, we enter into a village wedding and experience it not as outsiders, but through the eyes of the girls and its meaning for their lives, including the loss of autonomy to further pursue education and careers.

A heartfelt thanks to the Camden team, who nominated a stellar slate of films this year, and which included some truly innovative works such as JP Sniadecki’s El Mar La Mar. This year’s jury included Ilisa Barbash, Irina Leimbacher, Ernst Karel, Maple Rasza, Alijah Case and Alice Apley.

UPDATE: March 2018 – DER is pleased to be distributing House in the Fields. The film is now available for screenings, digital site licensing, and for pre-order on DVD (due out in April 2018).

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