Two Egyptian films were awarded at the Mentor Arabia Short Movie Competition for Youth. “Al-Wahm Al-Katel” (The Killing Illusion) won second place and “Ekhtar Hayatak” (Choose Your Life) won fourth place in the competition’s first edition.
Organised by the Royal Health Awareness Society (RHAS) in Jordan and Mentor Arabia Foundation, in cooperation with a number of governmental and non-governmental organisations, the competition aims to encourage young talent to spread awareness about drugs and risky behaviours with their short films, as well as enhancing the importance of social responsibility among Arab youth.
“The Killing Illusion” is a five-minute film about the drug “strox”. The film is written and directed by a young video journalist, married couple Ahmed Hendawy and Asmaa Gamal.
Based on true events, the film tells the story of a strox addict, who relies on the drug to live. As the camera follows the main character while his life revolves around doses of strox, he speaks about the effect the drug has on his life.
“While searching, I found that there are a lot of people that do not know about the effect of strox, particularly on the addicts,” Hendawy began, adding, “I personally witnessed a case of a close friend who was a strox addict, seeing how it affected every single aspect of his life, worse than any other type of drugs.”
Talking to several strox addicts, Hendawy saw that they cannot recognise that it has much worse side effects on the nervous system and consciousness than any other drug.
For weeks, Hendawy researched the studies and interviewed specialists to find that 75% of youth addicts take strox, which is originally a strong animal tranquilliser.
“I’ve been told by several doctors that the strox recovery percentages are much lower than heroin, the hardest drug type to recover from. Yet, barely anyone knows that,” Hendawy added.
While the film takes its audience to see the world from the addict’s eyes, Hendawy and Asmaa quoted the words of their friend who always repeated that “everyday is the same for me. As if I’m lost in an endless world and I can’t get out of it. After the second breath I inhale from a strox cigarette, it feels like I’m paying death a visit.”
The film took the second spot at the award. The awards are decided through a weighting of 75% by a jury and 25% by online voting.
The jury consisted of several Arab artists and scholars, including actress Nelly Karim, writer Essam Youssef, film-maker Marianne Khoury, and many other film-makers from the Middle East.
Choose Your Life tackles the extent to which individuals are affected by their surrounding communities. Directed by the young Ahmed Nour, the film features the possible effect of communities on the development of delinquent behaviour.
The two-minute film tells the story of the same person with four different characters inside of him fighting to become the dominant personality.
“Between the drug addict, the gym athlete, the teacher, and the cleric, I wanted to deliver the message that it’s what you decide you want to spend your life doing and who you want to spend it with,” Nour said.
Nour, who edited the film, believed that the biggest challenge is to deliver his message in a time as short as two minutes.
Five out of the final ten films were Egyptian, all featuring an unseen side of drugs and communities.