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It Must Be Heaven directed by Elia Suleiman
Elia Suleiman in It Must Be Heaven

European Film Academy will honor Elia Suleiman with the European Achievement in World Cinema Award for his impressive dedication to cinema at the 35th European Film Awards Ceremony in Reykjavik. He is the first Palestinian director to win the European Achievement in World Cinema Award.

Born in Nazareth, Palestinian writer, director, actor and producer Elia Suleiman started his career in New York where he shot two short films, Introduction to the End of an Argument (1991) and Homage by Assassination (1992), which won him numerous prizes.

In 1994, he moved to Jerusalem where the European Commission had entrusted him with the mission of creating a Film and Media Department at Birzeit University. He summarised his experiences in his 1996 feature debut Chronicle of a Disappearance which he not only wrote, directed and produced but also acted in with other family members. The film won the Luigi De Laurentiis Award for a debut film in Venice.

In 2002, he premiered in Cannes with Divine intervention which received the festival’s Jury Award and the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize and went on to win the Screen International Award at the European Film Awards as well as the Danish critics’ award Bodil. He again premiered in Cannes in 2009 with The Time That Remains which continued to be selected for the European Film Awards and won Best Director at the Mar del Plata Film Festival.

His 2019 comic saga It Must Be Heaven also premiered in Cannes where it received the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize and a Special Mention. The film was again selected for the European Film Awards and won the EURIMAGES Award at the Seville European Film Festival.

Elia Suleiman is an artistic advisor of the Doha Film Institute and has received the Dutch Prince Claus Award as well as the Prize Henri-Jeanson by the French Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques (SACD) which annually celebrates an author in memory of one the greatest scriptwriters of French cinema.

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