BBC Arabic Festival returns to London for its fifth year, from 22-27 March, celebrating the most exciting talent in Arab film and journalism with a series of free screenings, Q&As, talks and events. ( Image: Still What Walaa Wants (Sunday 24 March)
Full programme here; trailers available for most films.
The programme of 18 films includes four feature documentaries, nine short films and five short documentaries which explore themes ranging from sexuality and the drug trade, to conflict and displacement. Many of the films have received recognition on the international festival circuit.
To complement the screenings, there will be a programme of events, including a presentation and panel discussion on recent ground-breaking research into the role that digital technology can play in cultural preservation. Panellists include historian and broadcaster, Bettany Hughes, and Sarah Nankivell from Turner-nominated Forensic Architecture.
Highlights of the free festival include:
- In the last few years, Arab cinema has seen a new wave of female filmmakers. The festival reflects this development, showcasing the work of seven female directors and tells the story of female experiences in the Arab world. These films include Amal (Monday 25 March) tells the coming-of-age story of a feisty 14-year-old in post-revolutionary Egypt, while What Walaa Wants (Sunday 24 March) charts the teenage protagonist’s journey to try to become one of the few women in the Palestinian Security Forces.
- Several of the films have a satirical, often surreal edge. In the multi-award-winning The President’s Visit (Saturday 23 March), a Lebanese village learns that the president is planning to visit its soap factory as part of his campaign to clean up the nation. Manivelle: Last Days of the Man of Tomorrow (Saturday 23 March) is a Lebanese mockumentary about a man-robot whose ups and downs reflect those of the country.
- Other highlights include Anthony Chidiac’s Room for a Man (Saturday 23 March), an autobiographical account of being gay in Beirut today, and Survivors of Firdos Square (Sunday 24 March), about the sculptor who created the iconic metalwork that replaced Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad.