At this year’s Books at Berlinale event, filmmakers were introduced to a dozen publishers’ titles curated for potential screen development.
One of the most touching moments was the presentation of the Syrian novel Dance or Die, (DeA Planeta Libri, 2018) the true story of Ahmad Joudeh, who stood up against war and fundamentalists by relying on his greatest passion: dance. For years he practiced alone and in secret.
“In Islamic culture, classical dance is regarded as a female activity, not suitable at all for man”, said Annachiara Tassan, a representative of the Italian publisher DeA Planeta Libri. “There’s no Arabic word for male dancers.”
The dancer-author himself turned out to be in the Books at Berlinale audience. Asked how he managed to held on to his dreams despite the war in Syria and threats from extremists, he said, “I wanted to exist as a dancer not as a refugee.”
From Press Release (21 January 2019)
Press Release (21 January 2019)
On February 11, in the scope of “Books at Berlinale”, a co-operation with the Frankfurter Buchmesse, the Berlinale Co-Production Market will present twelve new and notable literary works that lend themselves perfectly to adaptation for the screen. … The over 160 submissions received from more than 30 countries this year represent a new record number of applications, topping all previous editions of the event. … “Dance or Die”, the moving true story of Ahmad Joudeh, who held onto his dream of dancing against all odds, faced with the war in Syria and the threat of extremists, is an impressive testament to the power of peaceful resistance through art.
Twelve titles will be presented for potential film development on February 11 as part of this year’s Books at Berlinale program at the Berlin International Film Festival.
In a prepared statement, Frankfurter Buchmesse director Juergen Boos is quoted, saying, “The selection consistently includes exciting new releases, bestsellers and prize-winning books with very high screen-adaptation potential—from 11 countries this year, which once again shows the diversity of the international literary landscape. “I’m particularly pleased that Dance or Die’, a title by a Syrian author, is in the running. “It’s important for the moving stories of our time to be told in different ways so that they reach a wide public.”
Boos’ reference to Dance or Die is to the true story of Ahmad Joudeh, who held on to his dream of dancing despite the war in Syria and threats from extremists, a compelling demonstration of the power of peaceful resistance through art. the book is represented by the Italian publisher DeA Planeta Libri.