6 October 2023–15 October 2023

Arab Cinema Week - Volume 2

Cinema Akil

Film screenings by Cinema Akil in partnership with Safar Film Festival

Starts 6 October 2023

Ends 15 October 2023

Venue Cinema Akil

Warehouse 68

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What ties an individual to a particular society? How do norms, customs and traditions affect one’s upbringing, identity and relationships? And does growing up in a particular environment necessarily mean belonging to it? All of these questions are reflected in this second volume of Arab Cinema Week, which Cinema Akil is presenting under the theme of Human Bonds.

After its inaugural edition in 2022 that resulted in sold out screenings, Cinema Akil once again fervently carves out a special place for Arab independent Cinema in its yearly programming, dedicating a full week to present it in its various shapes and forms.

Relationships are at the core of this edition. Humans naturally happen to fall in love. It’s however their unforgiving surroundings that makes any happy end an almost impossible task. A cadre of Tunisian teenagers indulge their desires and expectations of romance and friendship in UNDER THE FIG TREES. Societal encounters also occupy an important place in the program. Through the setting of an old villa in Cairo, veteran filmmaker Ahmad Abdalla addresses power struggles in today’s Egypt. The selection is rounded up with vivid discussions that bring filmmakers together with their protagonists. Artist Rania Stephan addresses with renowned Syrian writer Samar Yazbek, now living in exile, the power of literature, and if literature can truly reflect the tragedy of a war. In the short film program We Are Family, four different protagonists are battling with their direct surroundings, their families, as they attempt to liberate themselves.

Beirut holds a special part in the selection. A city in constant mutation, it is revisited by three filmmakers in three very distinct timeframes. It took acclaimed documentary filmmaker Mohamed Soueid a decade to complete his newest documentary, in which he ventures through Beirut as he speaks with his circle of friends. In his second feature Wissam Charaf imagines an impossible love story in today’s Beirut between a Syrian refugee and an Ethiopian domestic worker. In BEIRUT THE ENCOUNTER, Borhane Alaouié’s celebrated feature shot during the Lebanese civil war, two individuals are attempting to meet, as the conflict is raging around them. Alaouié’s film is presented in its restored version, cementing the wish of Cinema Akil to bring forward Arab and international classics to its dedicated audience.

Through the power of filmmaking, Arab Cinema Week is also reflecting on key happenings that did shape up the Arab World this past year. The documentary HEROIC BODIES retraces the power of women and their multiple positions in Sudanese society, which remains overwhelmed by a brutal power-hungry war since mid-April. In her essay film MY LOST COUNTRY, filmmaker Ishtar Yasin Gutiérrez retraces her father’s native roots in Iraq, 20 years after the invasion of the country. It’s also been 75 years since Al Nakba has shattered and changed the lives of Palestinians forever: filmmaker Firas Khoury explores in his feature debut ALAM love under occupation.

The recent powerful earthquake that took the lives of thousands of inhabitants in Morocco has moved the world. Cinema Akil is paying tribute to the country through the screening of LIFE SUITS ME WELL, a film in which a Moroccan family has to learn to recompose itself after the sudden sickness of the patriarch.

Arab Cinema Week is both an exploration and a celebration of Arab Cinema. In a program that invites the spectators to investigate human bonds, Cinema Akil is also fortifying its ties with its tremendous audience and filmgoers, a human bond that remains invaluable.

Rabih El-Khoury

*Season Pass Registration is available HERE