When blockbusters are filling up the big screen and streaming giants are dominating the small screen, arthouse movie enthusiasts, starting this Friday, can explore the first-ever Arab Cinema Week. The ten-day event, hosted by Cinema Akil, the only independent cinema in the UAE, will screen feature and short films at Alserkal Avenue,
“The first edition of Arab Cinema Week delivers on our mission of being the home of Arab independent cinema and filmmakers,” said Cinema Akil’s founder Butheina Kazim.
“With a robust lineup of speakers and filmmakers coming to Dubai for this, the program brings together stories from 11 Arab countries, showcases nine feature films and six shorts while also highlighting nine female directors from across the region,” added Kazim.
Cinema Akil will be screening several films in their directors’ presence, allowing the audience to meet with the creators and engage in discussions. Acclaimed Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri will conduct a master class to discuss his career and extensive collaborations with Arab filmmakers to produce authentic Arab stories.
Cinema Akil has tied up with the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, Goethe-Institut Gulf Region, and the Safar Film Festival to make Arab Cinema Week a recurring event in Dubai.
In addition to screening innovative works of the Arab world’s artists, the event will bring together a range of themes for Arab stories, with filmmakers narrating their heartbreaks, victories, struggles, and moments of personal bliss, says program curator Rabih El-Khoury. “Each of them is unique, telling, and speaking volumes about the talent our region holds.”
A comprehensive short film program with films from the UAE, KSA, Qatar, Yemen, and Sudan will round out the event’s focus on cinema from Algeria to commemorate the country’s 60 years of independence.
The Alleys, directed by BAFTA-winning Jordanian Bassel Ghandour, will inaugurate the event. The movie has already won praise from critics at a number of film festivals, including the Cairo and Red Sea Film Festivals, and will be introduced by up-and-coming actress Sara Mesffe.
Other Arab movies and shorts being screened during the festival include Beirut Hold’em (Michel Kammoun), Egyptian director Omar El Zohairy’s dramedy Feathers, and Khadar Ahmed’s The Gravedigger’s Wife.
The screenings of the documentaries Mariner of Mountains (by Karim Anouz, 2021), Héliopolis (by Djaffar Gacem, 2021), and Soula (by Salah Issaad, 2021) by El Khoury also represent Algeria’s 60 years of independence. The Battle of Algiers, a timeless film from 1966, will be shown as the festival’s capstone presentation on Algeria.