- El Gusto May 30
- Blind Intersections May 31
- Professor May 31
- Zero June 1
- Habibi June 1
- Contemporary Arab Film Shorts Program June 2
- Bekas June 2
- Where Do We Go Now? June 3
- Asmaa June 3
- The Attack June 4
- Horses of God June 5
The rich texture and history of Arab life and culture has become lost to us behind the screaming headlines of geopolitics and the 24-hour news cycle. That’s why I’m so excited to welcome back curator Lina Matta, who returns from Dubai for the second year to present another series of the best in new Arab cinema. The 12 films she’s selected—which include many award-winners and six US premieres—take us behind the fog of misconceptions to reveal a vibrant, changing Arab world, full of drama and surprise.
—JBFC Programming Director Brian Ackerman
Guest Curator Lina Matta will introduce every screening.
A Lebanese-American based in Dubai, Lina Matta is a filmmaker and the channel manager of three MBC (Middle East Broadcasting Corporation) networks. She is cofounder of Brown Hats Productions, a new York independent production and digital media company with two award-winning documentaries to its credit.
|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.|
In 2003 filmmaker Safinez Bousbia heard about a wildly popular Jewish-Muslim musical group that had flourished in the Algiers casbah in the 1950s but was torn apart by history. Intrigued, Bousbia combed France and Algeria, tracking down the surviving members, and they joyously reunited. Their new orchestra, called El Gusto (the Good Mood), has performed and recorded their beloved chaabi music to much acclaim. This glorious, moving documentary reveals the whole story.
Followed by LIVE MUSIC and a reception Enjoy Arab music performed by Zafer Tawil and a tarab ensemble! Jerusalem-born Tawil is an accomplished Palestinian musician who performs and teaches across the US and in the Middle East. His areas of expertise include the oud, violin, qanun, and Arab percussion.
Wine generously donated by Wine Enthusiast.
Safinez Bousbia. 2011. 88 m. NR. France/Ireland/Algeria/UAE, Arabic/French with subtitles. Fortissimo.
|Thurs. May 30||7:15 PM|
Tickets: $10 (members), $15 (nonmembers)
This powerful drama paints a portrait of Beirut by exploring the effect of tough social issues on the lives of three very different residents. As the characters’ paths cross, each one’s decisions inadvertently affect the others. Selected as the opening night film for the Beirut International Film Festival 2011, Blind Intersections is “the story of a city that rubs us, steps on us, and tears us apart while circumstances, destinies, and meetings
push our lives out of our control,” says filmmaker Lara Saba.
Q&A Mohamad Bazzi, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council For Foreign Relations and assistant professor of journalism at New York University.
Lara Saba. 2011. 92 m. NR. Lebanon/UAE, Arabic with subtitles. ZAD.
|Fri. May 31||5:05 PM|
Set in 1977 Tunis, this engrossing thriller tracks a law professor who is asked to defend the ruling party’s human rights record. Meanwhile, he hears that one of his students has been arrested for her political views—and his attempts to defend her put his personal life and career in jeopardy. The film, which was started prior to the deposition of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was interrupted in production several times and could be completed only after Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia in 2011.
Mahmoud Ben Mahmoud. 2012. 92 m. France/Tunisia, Arabic. MC Distribution.
|Fri. May 31||8:00 PM|
Amin Bertale, alias “Zero,” is a 30-something police officer walking the streets of Casablanca. He is overwhelmed by a sense of futility and loss, by the corruption that surrounds him, and by the constant needs of his disabled, abusive father. He has to make a change, to turn from a Zero into something more. Meeting a mother searching for her lost daughter is the first step in his new life. Lakhmari’s previous film, Casanegra,
was chosen to represent Morocco at the 2010 Academy Awards.
Q&A Habiba Boumlik Ph.D., teaches "Arab Cinema : Old Glories, New Challenges" at Purchase College
Nour-Eddine Lakhmari. 2012. 111 m. NR. Morocco, Arabic. Timlif.
|Sat. June 1||5:00 PM|
A Palestinian Romeo and Juliet meet and fall in love while studying on the West Bank. When their student visas are revoked they’re forced to return home to Gaza and the reality of their family situation. Searingly realistic, Habibi won Best Film and several other prizes at the Dubai International Film Festival. Brooklyn-born filmmaker Susan Youssef’s previous short, which screened at Sundance, was one of the first fiction films in the US to feature a veiled protagonist.
Susan Youssef. 2011. 78 m. Various Countries, Arabic.
|Sat. June 1||8:00 PM|
Contemporary Arab Film Shorts Program
A documentary look at the Muslim Brotherhood, which has come to power in Egypt. What does it preach? How does it operate? What does it demand? Follow the lives of four young men and women as they learn about sex, marriage, and gender roles at a Brotherhood charity. How to build a home? Istislam, which means “submission,” is one solution. • Mona El-Naggar. 2013. 46 m. PG. Egypt/US, in Arabic with subtitles.
Shot in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, this film centers on a young pregnant widow mourning the death of her husband and going to extremes to protect her unborn child from her exploitative brother-in-law. Starring, written, and directed by Ahd, the first Saudi woman to study film acting and filmmaking in the US.
• Ahd. 2013. 37 m. NR. Saudi Arabia, in Arabic with subtitles.
Q&A Istislam filmmaker Mona El-Naggar, an Egyptian journalist and a former reporter for the New York Times in Cairo. This is her first film.
n/a. NR. .
|Sun. June 2||2:00 PM|
Writer-director Karzan Kader relies on his own personal experiences of escaping Kurdistan, Iraq, as a child to tell this story about two orphaned brothers who have to rely on their street smarts and each other to survive. When they catch a glimpse of a movie through a hole in the wall at the local cinema, they devise a plan: They will go to America and live with Superman. This beautifully made testament to the power of love and hope, filmed on location, won a 2011 Student Academy Award.
Karzan Kader. 2012. 92 m. NR. Sweden, Kurdish. Sentafilm.
|Sun. June 2||7:45 PM|
Where Do We Go Now?
An award-winner at film festivals from Cannes to Toronto, this bittersweet crowd pleaser set box-office records in Lebanon and received a standing ovation when it played at the New Directors/New Film series in New York last year. It’s the story of a remote Lebanese village that’s suffered centuries of religious strife. The women aren’t going to take it anymore, and they band together to distract their squabbling men, hiring Ukrainian showgirls and doing everything else they can think of in their determination to keep the peace.
Nadine Labaki. 2011. 110 m. PG-13. France/Italy/Egypt/Lebanon, Arabic/English/Russian. Sony Pictures Classics.
|Mon. June 3||5:05 PM|
In Egypt many people deny the existence of AIDS, dismissing it as a decadent Western disease. For an HIV-positive Egyptian woman named Asmaa (beautifully played by Hend Sabry), this means that healthcare is only one of her battles, as she wrestles with the consequences of going public with her condition. Based on a true story, this suspenseful, controversial, eloquent drama builds to a heart-wrenching finale. Written and
directed by Amr Salama (Tahrir 2011), named “Star of the Future” by the Alexandria International Film Festival.
Mohamed Hefzy. 2011. 96 m. NR. Egypt, Arabic with subtitles. Film Clinic.
|Mon. June 3||7:45 PM|
There’s a suicide bomb attack in Tel Aviv, and Amin, a highly regarded Palestinian surgeon, rushes to the hospital to try to save the victims’ lives. Later that night as he is called to identify the body of the bomber, a dark secret is revealed, and everything about his life—his marriage, his friends, even his own identity—is thrown into question. Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri studied filmmaking in the US and worked on the crew of several Quentin Tarantino films. This nailbiting adaptation of Algerian writer Yasmina Khadra’s divisive novel is his third feature.
Q&A filmmaker Ziad Doueiri will join us via SKYPE
Ziad Doueiri. 2012. 102 m. NR. France/Lebanon, Arabic/Hebrew with subtitles. Cohen Media Group.
|Tues. June 4||7:45 PM|
Horses of God
This riveting, splendidly made film is set in Casablanca’s slums. A young boy, Yachine, fruitlessly tries one scheme after another to raise himself from his hopeless surroundings. When his brother comes home from prison as an Islamic fundamentalist, he persuades Yachine and his friends to join their “brothers,” and they begin their physical and mental preparation to become martyrs. Horses of God was inspired by the May 2003 suicide attacks in Casablanca. It competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
Q&A filmmaker Nabil Ayouch and host/Academy Award–winning filmmaker Jonathan Demme Filmmaker Nabil Ayouch will be in residence at the JBFC during this week, attending screenings and participating in our education programs.
Nabil Ayouch. 2012. 113 m. Morocco, Arabic with subtitles. Wild Bunch.
|Wed. June 5||7:30 PM|