SAFAR From Home virtual film festival, which will be online from 13 – 20 September. SAFAR is the only festival in the UK dedicated to cinema from the Arab world; founded in 2012 and running biennially since then, this will be the festival’s landmark fifth edition.
The SAFAR From Home programme features 5 screenings for audiences to view online from 13 – 20 September, plus 5 live events over 5 evenings featuring leading filmmaking talent from across the Arab world and the UK. Viewers can register for all of the films and events now on the new www.safarfilmfestival.co.uk. The events programme will be accessible across the globe; film access will be restricted to the UK but with some variations. All films and events are free, with the option to donate to support the festival.
In keeping with previous editions, the SAFAR Film Festival programme has been curated around a theme.
On the programme, curator Rabih El-Khoury said: “In a year when travels became impossible, we are inviting you to travel with us to the Arab World and beyond through your screens at home. SAFAR From Home explores Arab cinema through the theme of journeys – physical, emotional, transformational.
We have Réda in Ismaël Ferroukhi’s The Great Journey, accompanying his father on a long pilgrimage to Mecca; Rabih in Vatche Boulghourjian’s Tramontane, crisscrossing his country to retrieve his true identity; and the titular character of Kaouther Ben Hania’s documentary Zeineb Hates the Snow, attempting to find a balance between her Canadian present and her Tunisian past. And while this programme is an invitation to imaginary journeys, the stories of these protagonists are rooted in the everyday: defying harsh realities, questioning bewildering surroundings, facing inconceivable challenges. Yet through courage and resilience, they all find meaning in their explorations.
Through five screenings (four features and a shorts programme), and five talks over five nights, we’re also celebrating five editions of SAFAR. We hope that you will join us in the celebrations by signing up for the programme now!”
Other films available to watch are Tamer El Said’s debut feature film from 2016, In the Last Days of the City, and a programme of shorts including Mondial 2010 by Roy Dib, A Space Exodus by Larissa Sansour and Bonboné by Rakan Mayasi.
Audiences are invited to further immerse themselves in the films by tuning into the live event programme. Events include To Palestine and Back, a discussion with directors featured in the shorts programme; A Sonic Road Trip, with Tramontane director Vatche Boulghourjian, sound designer Rana Eid and composer Cynthia Zaven, who will be exploring how they wrote and scored the role of their blind protagonist; and On Human Journeys, a conversation with Tamer El Said about In the Last Days of the City.
The final two events over the weekend offer audiences the chance to get involved in the discussion and reflect on the filmmaking landscape of the UK and Arab world. The SAFAR Social: Making Documentaries on Saturday evening brings together three documentary makers – BBC 3’s Basma Khalifa, Freedom Fields director Naziha Arebi, and Ayouni director Yasmin Fedda – for an informal discussion around life behind the camera, and the future of documentary making, with audience members also invited to share their own experiences.
The festival will conclude with SAFAR Turns 5, a celebratory discussion featuring co-founder Saeed Taji Farouky and some other special guests who will be reflecting on past festivals, and on the Arab cinema landscape today both in the UK and across the region.