Festival Cinéma Arabe 2015
Festival Cinéma Arabe 2015 takes place from 21 to 26 April in Rialto, Amsterdam. On 25 April, Filmhuis Den Haag will screen a selection, to be followed by Maastricht and Rotterdam. Read up on the highlights below. Curious about all films? Take a look here!
Mirror of History
The past as a mirror of the present: what can do this better than film? The theme is the striking common denominator of three diverse titles. In the opening film The Silence of the Shepherd, Raad Mushatat returns to a black page in Iraqi history: the late 1980s, the heyday of terror under Saddam Hussein. This backdrop serves mainly to emphasize the contrast with a secluded and introverted village, where traditions are more important than what happens in the outside world. A powerful point of departure, especially with the knowledge of today. Theeb brings bygone times back to life in the timeless desert. It’s 1916; the old world is about to collapse. There is a distant rumbling. Change is inevitably approaching. A reference to the present? The Man from Oran certainly fits the bill. Like many a ruler, director Lyès Salem writes history his own way in a historical epic about Algeria. Not in order to conceal, but to expose the cycle of ideals, the striving for power and the corruption. After all, doesn’t history repeat itself?
War / isolation / fear
The trinity of war, isolation and fear is compelling. What is left to you as a human being, and a filmmaker, if you have to fear for your life, cut off from the world? Or if a repressive regime affects your ability to trust in another? Or if you are daily confronted with a threatening nine-meter high wall that seriously restricts your freedom of movement? This happens to Leila Sansour in Open Bethlehem. While she dreams of an open city, Bethlehem disappears behind impenetrable concrete. It is an uneven battle, that already seems decided further away in Syria. The residents of Al Yarmouk, Damascus, find themselves in a double trap. In Letters from Al Yarmouk the bullets fly round their ears, while they long to go home: the Palestine of a few generations ago. A dream image, as filmmaker Rashid Masharawi knows. Elsewhere in Damascus the world of Hazem Alhamwi narrows to his room. Is he there, From My Syrian Room, safe from the devastation of the free spirit? Fellow citizen Azza Hamzi on the other hand heads for confrontation in the streets. In A Day and a Button she walks around a block, bannishing her fear with a particular button. Thanks to these brave filmmakers, we can feel how it is not to be free – luckily only for a moment.