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 


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

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  3:10 PM 7:30 PM



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

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.

Q&A filmmaker and drama therapist Zeina Daccache via skype


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

Wed. Sept 24  7:30 PM