Palestinian Oscar Entry ‘Bye Bye Tiberias’ Secures U.S. Distribution With Women Make Movies

EXCLUSIVE: New York-based Women Make Movies has acquired U.S. rights for Palestinian Oscar entry Bye Bye Tiberias by Lina Soualem.

The intimate work sees Soualem accompany her Palestinian-French actress mother Hiam Abbass back to the Arab village within Israeli borders, which she left in the 1980s to pursue her acting career in Europe.

There, they reflect on her past as well as the lives of Abbass’ mother and grandmother in a powerful work exploring themes of displacement, identity and survival across four generations of women.

WMM executive director Debra Zimmerman said the film was a “perfect fit” for the label, which aims to put spotlight on the work of female filmmakers.

“It is a beautiful film about four generations of Palestinian women,” she said. “I am thrilled that we have the opportunity to have this film seen widely right now by the diverse audiences that need and deserve to see it.”

Bye Bye Tiberias world premiered in Venice Film Festival parallel section Giornate degli Autori, followed by its North American premiere in Toronto. It since has played in a raft of festivals and wil next be seen at the Palm Springs Film Festival, running January 5-15, 2023.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Women Make Movies for the U.S. distribution of Bye Bye Tiberias,” said Bojana Maric at Swiss-French Sales Agents Lightdox.

“Lina Soualem’s timely and intimate film is enjoying continued success on the festival circuit, and aligns perfectly with the mission and goals of Women Make Movies. We are confident they will uphold the legacy of these courageous women, their memories, resilience, and tenderness, by sharing their story with audiences across the U.S.”

Including Bye Bye Tiberias, 14 WMM films and filmmakers have qualified for 2024 Academy Awards consideration.have qualified for 2024 Academy Award consideration including Katja Esson with Razing Liberty Square, Dawn Porter with The Lady Bird Diaries; Sarvnik Kaur with Against the Tide; Cecilia Aldarando with You Were My First Boyfriend; Sonia Kennebeck with Reality Winner; and Nancy Schwartzman with Victim/Suspect.

A number have been made with the support of WMM’s Production Assistance Program including Little Richard by Lisa Cortés; Going to Mars by Michèle Stephenson and Joe Brewster; Invisible Beauty by Bethann Hardison and Frédéric Tcheng; To Kill a Tiger by Nisha Pahuja; Twice Colonized by Lina Alluna; 1946: The Mistranslation that Shifted a Culture by Sharon “Rocky” Roggio; and Joonam by Sierra Urich.  

Women Make Movies was created in 1972 to support the work of female filmmakers and has since distributed an impressive roster of films, including films by Jane Campion, Lourdes Portillo and Kim Longinotto.

Its Production Assistance Program, which was launched in the 1980s with Julie Dash’s groundbreaking Daughters of the Dust, has helped women raise more than $100 million dollars and supported the first films of filmmakers such as Marielle Heller, Dee Rees, Laura Poitras, and Dawn Porter.

Soualem welcomed the deal.

“Women Make Movies is a distribution company that I’ve been looking up to for many years,” she said. “I love their team of amazing women who do a great work on independent and politically engaged films. I couldn’t have asked for a better partnership.”

Aside from being the Palestinian Oscar entry, Bye Bye Tiberias is also qualified for Best Documentary consideration. Film Independent has also recently announced that the film is nominated for the Independent Spirit Best Documentary Award.

The film won the Grierson Award in London and the shared Jury Prize at the recent Marrakech International Film Festival.

Bye Bye Tiberias is presented by Beall Productions in coproduction with Altitude 100 Production and Philistine Films, in association with Arte France – La Lucarne.

The film is produced by Jean-Marie Nizan, and made with the support of Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée, Centre du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, Tax shelter du gouvernement fédéral de Belgique, Inver Tax Shelter, Doha Film Institute, and The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture.

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