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AFAC Film Week Goes to Tunisia

10 May, 2016 

After two successful editions in Beirut and Cairo, AFAC is holding its third Film Week, May 25-June 1, 2016 in Tunisia. Staying loyal to AFAC’s initial vision of having the film week a touring event among the various Arab cities, exploring the regional appetite for independent Arab films, and reaching out to audiences that are otherwise denied any access to these films, the third Film Week is planned in Tunisia with CineMadart/Carthage and Le Rio/Tunis.

 

The 3rd AFAC Film Week program comprises 16 films (documentary, feature, short and experimental), co-curated with CineMadart and hailing from six countries: Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia. Five award-winning feature-length fiction films will screen in Tunis and Carthage: 3000 Nights (2015) by Mai Masri (Palestine, opening film), The Valley (2014) by Ghassan Salhab (Lebanon), Coming Forth by Day (2012) by Hala Lotfy (Egypt), As I Open my Eyes (2015) by Leila Bouzid and Hedi (2016) by Mohammed Ben Attia, both from Tunisia. The latter two films have had a great festival presence since completion in 2015 with Bouzid’s film collecting more than 25 awards so far and Attia’s receiving the Best First Film and Best Actor Awards at this year’s Berlinale. Two short films will be presented as part of the program: And on a Different Note (2015) by Mohammad Shawky Hassan (Egypt), and the Palme d’Or winner Waves ’98 (2015) by Ely Dagher (Lebanon).

 

Documentary constitutes the bulk of the program with nine documentary films from emerging and seasoned filmmakers selected for the Week. Shedding light on pertinent and timely issues, the nine films are very much varied in styles and approaches. With their sense of urgency and relevance, those nine films are able to comment on their respective locales as well as go further to touch upon issues that are common to our region. Malek Bensmail’s Checks and Balances (2015) goes to the heart of an independent newspaper in Algiers, the legendary daily El Watan, this documentary film raises the issues of freedom of the press, editorial decisions, past and current events in Algeria, state authoritarianism, terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, and the issue of language. Yasmina and the 60 Names of Love (2013) falls into its helmer’s (Nacer Khemir) Sufis approach to tell the story of an old woman and the ghost town she inhabited in southern Tunisia, shedding light on the feminine imagination throughout the twentieth century. Fadi Yeniturk’s Monumentum (2015) is a very timely piece of work that looks at monuments in various Arab cities and their relation to power and dictators. While Hinde Boujemaa’s It Was Better Tomorrow (2012) shows the atypical journey of a bold woman in the intense interval of a country's (Tunisia) revolution. From Lebanon comes We Were Communists (2010) by Maher Abi Samra follows three former members of the Lebanese Communist Party who reflect on their role during the civil war and its aftermath. A very sharp, artistic, and critical take on the Syrian revolution is presented by cineaste Ossama Mohammad through his haunting documentary Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait (2014). From Palestine comes a unique project, The Wanted 18 (2014) by Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan, mixing real characters with animated cows, documentary with staged scenes, humor with depth all to tell the story Beit Sahour the Palestinian village that was able in the Eighties to present an example of solidarity and near economic self-sufficiency through a dairy product cooperative that was later condemned, along with the cows, by the Israeli defense forces as a 'threat to the state of Israel'. Family Albums (2012) is a collective film produced by Raed Andoni and directed by Mais Darwazeh, Nassim Amouche, Erige Sehiri and Samih Zoabi through which four personal narratives take on the issues of identity and its passage from one generation to the next. Rania and Raed Rafei's 74 (2012) recounts stories of a generation in Beirut 1974 when a group of Lebanese students at the American University of Beirut (AUB) occupied the university's offices protesting against the tuition increase. The past event is reconstructed by a group of current Lebanese students to striking identification and similarity of objectives and discourse.

 

Watch the AFAC Film Week 2016 Trailer

 

The Films

 

3000 NIGHTS

Mai Masri|Feature Fiction|Palestine – Jordan - Lebanon - France|2015

May 25th | CinéMadart 19:00

May 27th | Le Rio 18:30

Layal, a young newlywed Palestinian schoolteacher is arrested after being falsely accused and sentenced to 8 years of prison. She is transferred to a high security Israeli women's prison where she encounters a terrifying world in which Palestinian political prisoners are incarcerated with Israeli criminal inmates. When she discovers she is pregnant, the prison director pressures her to abort the baby and spy on the Palestinian inmates. However, resilient and still in chains, she gives birth to a baby boy. Through her struggle to raise her son behind bars, and her relationship with the other prisoners, she manages to find a sense of hope and a meaning to her life. Prison conditions deteriorate and the Palestinian prisoners decide to strike. The prison director warns her against joining the rebellion and threatens to take her son away. In a moment of truth, Layal is forced to make a choice that will forever change her life.

*Director in attendance at the Opening
 

 

MONUMENTUM

Fadi Yeni Turk|Documentary|Lebanon|2015

May 25th | CinéMadart 21:00

May 26th | Le Rio 18:30

Public monuments visually and physically demarcate space, while claiming a territory of affiliation. In Lebanon, the proliferation of new monuments continues to encroach on so-called public spaces, creating tensions and deepening divisions. Meanwhile, Beirut's Martyrs' Square still awaits the materialization of a new master plan.

A similar state of uncertainty is experienced in varying degrees of similarities by Baghdad's Firdos Square, Cairo's Tahrir Square, Tunis' January 14 Square, and Manama's Pearl Roundabout.

Recently, some Arab countries have seen the tearing down of monuments representing previous regimes, in an effort to literally leave the floor open to a new page of history.

In a region where current political structures are being violently challenged, Monumentum

(2015) is an attempt to reflect on these silent monuments encroaching on public spaces, scrutinizing their role as markers of an ever-changing political scenography.

*Director in attendance

Trailer

 

AND ON A DIFFERENT NOTE

Mohammad Shawky Hassan|Short Experimental|Egypt|2015

May 25th | CinéMadart 21:00

May 26th | Le Rio 18:30

Today in this house nothing happens, nor does it in the homes of others. The chronology of events is obscured, subversive noise is obliterated, elucidation impossible and language futile. All that remains is a soundscape perpetually occupied by self-proclaimed patriots, and scattered spaces carved by the rhythm of everyday life, all conspiring to maintain the status quo while hiding the humming background noise of the world. And on a Different Note is a navigation of an attempt to carve out a personal space amid an inescapable sonic shield created primarily by prime time political talk shows with their indistinguishable, absurd, and at times undecipherable rhetoric/ noises. Equally repulsive and addictive, these noises travel across geographies gradually constituting an integral part of a self-created map of exile.

*Director in attendance

 

SILVERED WATER, SYRIA SELF-PORTRAIT

Ossama Mohammad|Documentary|Syria|2014

May 26th |CinéMadart 19:00

May 26th | Le Rio 15:30

In Syria, every day, YouTubers film then die; others kill then film. In Paris, driven by my inexhaustible love for Syria, I find that I can only film the sky and edit the footage posted on YouTube. From within the tension between my estrangement in France and the revolution, an encounter happened. A young Kurdish woman from Homs began to chat with me, asking: “If your camera were here, in Homs, what would you be filming?” Silvered Water is the story of that encounter.
Trailer

 

AS I OPEN MY EYES

Leila Bouzid|Feature Fiction|France – Tunisia - Belgium - UAE| 2015

May 26th | CinéMadart 21:00

In the summer of 2010 just before the start of the Jasmine Revolution, Farah joins a rock band as their lead singer. She continues to sing and rebel even as the police begin to follow her and her movements are monitored.

*Director in attendance

Trailer

 

CHECKS AND BALANCES

Malek Bensmail|Documentary|Algeria - France|2015

May 27th |CinéMadart 19:00

May 28th | Le Rio 15:30

Accommodated since Algeria's Bloody Decade of the 1990’s in the "House of the Press", the journalists of the famous daily newspaper El Watan await the completion of their new offices, a symbol of their independence.

My camera is embedded in their newsroom as they follow the events of this new Algerian spring… President Bouteflika has set his sights on a 4th term.

Beyond what we call the Arab revolutions and other mediatized terms, I wanted this film to serve as a memorial to the women and men, young and less young, who battle daily to safeguard the freedom of information in a politically and socially fossilized country.
Trailer

 

74 (THE RECONSTITUTION OF A STRUGGLE)

Rania and Raed Rafei|Docu-fiction|Lebanon|2013

May 28th |CinéMadart 19:00

May 29th |Le Rio 15:30

1974: Students demonstrate against a tuition increase at the American University of Beirut. For 37 days, they occupy university offices. With the Lebanese student revolt of 1974 as their starting point, filmmakers Rania and Raed Rafei direct an absorbing documentary on the core issues of revolution and democracy. In addition to a meticulous re-enactment, they include theatrical improvisations in which today's activists give their interpretations of the student leaders’ actions in ’74.

*Directors in attendance
Trailer

 

COMING FORTH BY DAY

Hala Lotfy | Feature Fiction | Egypt | 2012

May 28th|CinéMadart 21:00

June 1st |Le Rio 15:30

Those who have fully enjoyed their bodies cannot be submissive. And those who never have? Can they survive the slavery of solitude and impotent acceptance of what they can’t change or embrace? This is the everyday story of two women taking care of their sick man.
Trailer

 

THE VALLEY

Ghassan Salhab|Feature Fiction|Lebanon|2014

May 28th |Le Rio 18:30

May 29th |CinéMadart 19:00

Following a car accident on a lone mountain road, a man loses his memory. He walks along the deserted path and helps people with engine trouble to repair their car.  They are reluctant to leave him stranded, so they take him to their estate in the Bekaa Valley, a place where production is not only agricultural, a place he may never leave again.

*Director in attendance

Trailer

 

FAMILY ALBUMS

Mais Darwazeh, Nassim Amouache, Erige Sehiri, Sameh Zoabi| Collective Documentary | France-Palestine-UAE | 2012

May 29th |CinéMadart 17:00

May 30th |Le Rio 18:30

A collective feature-length documentary made of four personal narratives which take on the issues of identity and its passage from one generation to the next. Four Arab films set in four different cities reflect the personal experiences of their respective directors and the places they come from. They break through geographic and political boundaries creating a single shared artistic project.

* Director Erige Sehiri and Producer Raed Andoni  in attendance

Trailer

 

IT WAS BETTER TOMORROW

Hinde Boujemaa |Documentary|Tunisia|2012

May 30th |Le Rio 15:30

May 30th |CinéMadart 19:00

 

Through the hubbub of a revolution, "It was better tomorrow" follows Aida, a Tunisian woman who has to rebuild her entire life and who does not wish to look backwards. She spends her time moving from one poor neighborhood to another. Driven by the will to find a roof over her head and for her children, she takes no notice of the historical events taking place around her. Her only goal is to find a way out and she is convinced that the revolution is a blessing. "It was better tomorrow" shows the atypical journey of this brazen and bold woman in the intense interval of a country's revolution.

*Director in attendance

Trailer

 

WE WERE COMMUNISTS

Maher Abi Samra | Documentary | Lebanon | 2010

May 31st| Le Rio 15:30

June 1st | CinéMadart 21:00

Tracing the intersecting destinies of comrades who were once bound by a shared ideological affiliation and who remain tightly knit friends, We Were Communists is an uninhibited examination of the legacy of Lebanon’s civil war. Four men recount their battlefield stories, broken dreams, and eventual disillusionment in light of the country’s ongoing political crises. At once artistically and politically audacious, incisive and tender, the film lays bare the daunting reality of Lebanon’s fractured landscape.

*Director in attendance

Trailer

 

THE WANTED 18

Amer Shomali|Documentary|Palestine|2014

May 31st | CinéMadart 19:00

June 1st | Le Rio 18:30

During the first Intifada in the West Bank town of Beit Sahour a group of townspeople decide to buy eighteen cows and produce their own milk as a co-operative. Their venture is so successful that the collective farm becomes a landmark, and the cows local celebrities, until the Israeli army takes note and declares that the cows pose "a threat to the national security of the state of Israel." Consequently, the dairy is forced to go underground, the cows continuing to produce their "Intifada milk" with the Israeli army in relentless pursuit.

Trailer

 

YASMINA AND THE 60 NAMES OF LOVE

Nacer Kemir|Documentary|Tunisia|2013

May 29th |Le Rio 18:30

June 1st |CinéMadart 19:00

“Yasmina and the 60 names of love" is a hybrid, an unclassifiable film built on drawing a deeply personal journey with a lot of autobiographical elements. When this ancestor tells his life, the speech is raw. She speaks of suffering, of a harsh and cruel life. The viewer is mesmerized by this being in the twilight of her life. And like a litany, the names of love are listed, translated and hypnotize the ones who hears them. This film is certainly more of a philosophical research, with its share of requirement. A requirement that, according to the author, lacks in today's society and participates in its own decadence.

*Director in attendance

 

HEDI

Mohamed Ben Attia|Feature Fiction|Tunisia|2016

May 31st | Le Rio 18:30

Hedi a young man with great dream is struggling his way through social conventions in Tunisia. While his mother tries to decide his life for him, Hedi meets Rym and suddenly he discovers that his world goes beyond and above conventions. 

*Director and Producer Dora Bouchoucha  in attendance

Trailer

 

WAVES ‘98

Ely Dagher |Short Animation |Lebanon-Qatar|2015

May 31st | CineMadart 19:00

June 1st |Le Rio 18:30

Disillusioned with his life in the suburbs of segregated Beirut, Omar's discovery lures him into the depth of the city. Immersed into a world that is so close yet so isolated from his reality, he eventually loses track and finds himself struggling to keep his attachments, his sense of home.

Trailer

 

view the AFW16 brochure here


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