This will the third film festival in the bi-annual run. Overseen by three women , indeed The British Arab Centre is run by women – Nadia, Amani and Rosa, and the previous festivals were run in 2012, 2014 and now in 2016 to be held over 5 days from 14 to 18 September 2016. Talking to Communications and Events officer Rosa Perez, she explained the history to the festival and why this is needed at such a vital time to show contemporary Arab life:
“The 1st edition in 2012 showcased classic films that were popular in the Arab world and that were an honest portrayal of Arab culture. In 2014 there was a celebration of popular Arab cinema plus an exhibition of original cinema posters from a Beirut artist that toured to Leceister and Stoke on Trent. The 2016 festival has a new look focusing on contemporary Arab cinema and a high profile curator [Rasha Salti who has curated the Middle Eastern and African film selection of the Toronto International Film Festival] – she’s chosen 8 long features plus a film shorts programme from leading Kuwati artist Monira Al Qadiri. All the selected films are from the last 12 months and all of of them except one will have its UK premiere at the festival. In the aftermath of the Arab Spring – people are paying more attention to films that go beyond the headlines to show every day life in Arab countries from a different angle.”
A short montage of films to be screened at the festival were also shown and the gutsy and bold film Before I Close My Eyes grabbed my attention.
What this festival will no doubt show is that life has to carry on regardless in between the bombs, the aftermath of the Arab Spring and constant turmoil. They will stand as a reminder of the rich tapestry, humanity and life that remains strong and defiant.
The films to be shown are:
Before The Summer Crowds – Mohamed Khan, Eygpt (14 Sept)
As I open My Eyes– Leyla Bouzid, Tunisia (17 Sept)
Love, Theft And Other Entanglements – Muayad Alayan, Palestine (15 Sept)
Let Them Come – Salem Brahimi, Algeria (16 Sept)
Maverick from Kuwait: Close Encounter With Monira Al Qadiri (17 Sept) – shorts programme
Borders Of Heaven – the first feature film by Fares Naanaa, Tunisia (17 Sept)
Houses Without Doors – Avo Kapraelian,, Syria (18 Sept)
This Little Father Obsession – Sélim Mourad, Lebanon (18 Sept)
Starve Your Dog – Hicham Lasri, Morocco (18 Sept): the closing film
SAFAR Film Festival runs from 14 to 18 September 2016 at the ICA in London, click here for more information.
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