ANA: Contemporary Arab Cinema

The rich texture and history of Arab life and culture have become lost to us amid the screaming headlines, regional turmoil, and 24-hour news cycle. That’s why I’m so excited to welcome back curator Lina Matta, who returns from Dubai to present her third annual series of the best in new Arab cinema. The 12 films she’s selected—which include many award-winners and a US premiere—take us behind the fog of misconceptions to reveal a vibrant, changing Arab world.

—JBFC Programming Director Brian Ackerman

Lina Matta 

GUEST CURATOR LINA MATTA WILL INTRODUCE EVERY SCREENING

A Lebanese-American based in Dubai, Lina Matta is a filmmaker and the Senior Channel Manager
of MBC 2, MBC 4, MBC Max, and MBC Variety. She is cofounder of Brown Hats Productions, a
New York independent production and digital media company.

 
This series celebrates award-winning films from the Arab world, shining a light on the people of this region through the work of the talented directors who are bringing their stories to the screen. Contemporary Arab Cinema logo

Rock the Casbah (2013)

Rock the Casbah (2013)


OPENING NIGHT! With a powerhouse cast, including a cameo by Omar Sharif, Rock the Casbah is an engaging, bittersweet comedy about a family—mostly women—gathered in the patriarch’s villa to mourn his death. Sparks fly as they come to terms with the past and the challenges facing upper-class women torn between Muslim traditions and Western influences today.

RECEPTION at the Media Arts Lab. Wine generously donated by:
 

Laïla Marrakchi. 2013. 100 m. NR. France/Morocco, Arabic/English/French. Pathé.

Wed. Sept 17  7:30 PM

Tickets: $10 (members), $15 (nonmembers)
The Return to Homs

The Return to Homs


This unflinching but very human documentary relates the experiences of two young men as peaceful protests devolved into a bloody three-year siege in Homs, Syria. “Like its heroes, we are pulled into the conflict with frenzied immediacy as we expe- rience one city, the dreaded rites of passage of two friends, and ultimately an entire nation torn apart by the fog of war,” says the New York Times. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema/Documentary at Sundance.

Talal Derki. 2013. 87 m. NR. Germany/Syria, Arabic. GathrFilms.

Thurs. Sept 18  7:30 PM

The Lebanese Rocket Society

The Lebanese Rocket Society


At the height of the Cold War, a group of students and researchers at Beirut’s Haigazian University entered the space race. Propelled by little more than dreams and hard work, the Lebanese Rocket Society succeeded in building 12 solid-fuel rockets, one even powerful enough to reach the thermosphere, now home to the International Space Station. This award-winning documentary tells the whole engaging, unlikely story.

Joana Hadjithomas /Khalil Joreige. 2012. 95 m. NR. France/Lebanon/UAE, Arabic/English/French. Urban Distribution International.

Fri. Sept 19  5:15 PM

May in the Summer

May in the Summer


One of Variety’s “Ten Directors to Watch,” Cherien Dabis (Amreeka) is back with this witty, poignant drama about a successful New York author, high on the success of her first book, who is plunged into the chaos of family life when she returns to Amman to plan her wedding. Navigating the shoals of religion, career, tradition, and family history, she finds her carefully structured life is not under as much control as she’d thought.

FREE SCREENING FOR JBFC MEMBERS! Free tickets available at the box office ONLY (in advance or the day of the screening) while they last. Tickets may also be purchased online.

Cherien Dabis. 2013. 99 m. R. USA/Jordan/Qatar. Cohen Media Group.

Fri. Sept 19  7:30 PM

Free Screening for JBFC Members!
Factory Girl

Factory Girl


The latest from legendary “1980s generation” Egyptian filmmaker Mohamed Khan is a contemporary story of a young woman who dreams of a Prince Charming who will sweep her away from her drab life. She falls in love with her new supervisor, but when a pregnancy test is found at the factory where they work, what follows is no fairy tale. Instead, this unapologetic heroine’s life changes in unexpected ways, and she learns what really matters.

Mohamed Khan. 2013. 90 m. NR. Egypt/UAE, Arabic. MAD Solutions.

Sat. Sept 20  5:10 PM

Adios Carmen

Adios Carmen


In 1975 10-year-old Amar lives in a Moroccan village with his violent uncle, eagerly awaiting the unlikely return of his mother, who has gone to Belgium. He finds a much-needed friend in his neighbor Carmen, a Spanish exile who helps him discover the world of cinema. Adios Carmen has the feel of an Italian film in the spirit of Cinema Paradiso and Il Postino.

Mohamed Amin Benamraoui. 2013. 103 m. NR. Belgium/Morocco/UAE, Arabic/French/Spanish with subtitles.

Sat. Sept 20  7:30 PM

Wadjda

Wadjda


This gem of a film is back for a return engagement. Wadjda, a spirited 10-year-old, desperately wants a beautiful green bicycle, but her mother won’t buy it for her, fearing repercussions from their conservative Saudi society. So Wadjda decides to try to raise the money herself by winning a Koran recitation competition. This is the debut full-length feature from Haifaa Al Mansour, Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker, famous for penetrating the wall of silence surrounding the lives of Saudi women. 

Haifaa Al-Mansour. 2013. 98 m. PG. Germany/Saudi Arabia, Arabic with subtitles. Sony Pictures Classics.

Sun. Sept 21  5:10 PM

Heritages

Heritages


In 2006 war breaks out in Lebanon. As filmmaker Philippe Aractingi flees his homeland for the third time, he realizes that five generations of his family have borne the same burden. Hoping to break the cycle, he examines Middle Eastern history, both public and personal, organically interlacing directed scenes (with his family playing various roles) with archival images, video diaries, family photos, and Super 8 footage. An innovative, revealing film.

Philippe Aractingi. 2013. 96 m. NR. Lebanon/UAE, Arabic/French.

Sun. Sept 21  7:30 PM

Omar

Omar


People were already talking about Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad when his second feature, Paradise Now, won the Golden Globes. And now, with Omar (and its Academy Award nomination), critics used words like masterpiece. A twisty, searing thriller about love and betrayal in the Occupied Territories, it’s a dynamic drama about moral dilemmas facing those on the frontlines of a conflict that shows no sign of letting up. 

Hany Abu-Assad. 2013. 98 m. NR. Palestine, Arabic/Hebrew with subtitles. Adopt Films.

Mon. Sept 22  5:00 PM

The Square

The Square


This Oscar-nominated film takes us deep into the intense emotional drama and personal stories behind the Egyptian Revolution, introducing us to young people fighting for a free society, armed only with cameras, social media know-how, and determination. Winner of the Audience Award at Sundance, among others, it’s earned exceptional reviews and sparked conversation far and wide. Filmmaker Jehane Noujaim (Control Room) calls it “a love letter to the people fighting for change.”

Jehane Noujaim. 2013. 90 m. NR. Egypt/USA, Arabic. GathrFilms.

Mon. Sept 22  7:30 PM

Before Snowfall

Before Snowfall


Siyar, a teenager from an Iraqi Kurdistan village, is on a quest to find his sister, who has fled an arranged  marriage. He knows an honor killing is necessary to restore his  family’s reputation, and as the eldest son he must see it through.  But as he travels west, he discovers deeper truths that call into  question everything he knew about dignity, loyalty, and love.  This is an emotional road movie with a vivid visual punch. 

Hisham Zaman. 2013. 96 m. NR. Germany/Norway/Iraq, Kurdish. Paradox.

Tues. Sept 23  7:30 PM

Scheherazade's Diary

Scheherazade's Diary


The inmates of Lebanon’s Baabda Prison dig deep into their own pasts as they prepare and present the first theater performance staged inside an Arab women’s prison. This project, run by drama therapist/filmmaker Zeina Daccache, gives “murderers of husbands, adulterers, and drug felons” voices as victims of domestic violence and other trauma, enabling them to express the challenge of living as a woman in Lebanon—and ultimately speaking for all victims of oppression.

Zeina Daccache. 2013. 78 m. NR. Lebanon, Arabic. Catharsis.

Wed. Sept 24  7:30 PM