Monday, April 15, 2013

Arabian Film Days in Oslo April 19 - 21

The Films from the South Foundation are soon to host their 3rd Annual Arabian Film Days Festival. If you want to explore another culture, both movies, food and music, Cinemateket at Filmens Hus is the place to be on the Weekend of 19th- 21st of April.

The Attack [Screen Dump from Trailer]

The Foundation: Films from the South

The Films from the South Foundation is one who focuses on movies and filmmakers from Asia, Africa and Latin-America. Although the "Films from the South"-festival has been the main festival arranged by the Foundation, the Arabian Film Days has grown quickly. This year they've expanded it by including Friday in the schedule, making it a 3-day happening. The opening movie this year is a thriller/drama from Lebanon, 'The Attack'. 

The Films

There seems to be quite a nice variety of movies in this years program, ranging from a short film-double, documentaries, animation (the Disney-classic 'Aladdin') and drama. Also showing is the movie 'When I Saw You', whose plot and inclusion of a very young actor might make one draw parallels to the recently Oscar-nominated movie 'War Witch' (which was screened last year at the Films from the South-festival). Here's a quick look at some of the movies you can catch at this years Arabian Film Fest in Oslo, Norway.

A World Not Ours

A documentary about life in a refugee-camp, the movie is described as having a somewhat humorous approach to a serious topic. Variety wrote: "A doc that flips storytelling and Mideast-Arab cliches on their heads, while weaving an irresistible mood of amused melancholy." The story takes place in a refugee-camp in Southern Lebanon, and is directed by Mahdi Fleifel. "This film has been around for as long as I've been around", he told David Walsh in an interview during the Toronto International Film Festival. The documentary is a personal tale of his relatives and friends, namely his grandfather, one of his uncles and one of his friends. Having visisted the refugee camp almost every year as a child, director Fleifel - who had his adolescent days in Denmark - revisits the refugee camp in 2010 and shows another side of refugee camps then one might expect from a documentary.

Screenings at 21:15 on Friday and 12:30 on Sunday at Cinemateket.

Trailer for the movie: 


Wadjda [Screen Dump from Trailer]

Interestingly enough, the first movie shot (in its entirety) in Saudi-Arabia is a film from a female director. Haifaa Al Mansour's movie has been described as an "overtly feminist film", not suprisingly maybe, considering it's focus on a young girls dreams and ambitions of buying a green bike. Although this wouldn't have made for a very good story had it taken place in countries such as Norway, England or Italy for instance, the social situation and position of women in Saudi Arabia obviously makes for a movie with a certain social comment. The young lead role, Wadjda, has her mind set on a bike, and unlike the (slightly-more-pressed-for-time) protagonist in the Italian classic "The Bicycle Thieves", she decides to save up the money needed for it. It has won numerous awards at various international film-festivals, including the Venice Film Festival. Described as a "feelgood"-movie, don't miss out on this movie at the Arabian Film Days. 

Screenings at 20:15 on Saturday and 15:15 on Sunday at Cinemateket.

Horses of God

Winner of the François Chalais Award at the Cannes Film Festival, where it also premiered in 2012.
It has received great reviews, and could well be one of the highlights of the Arabian Film Days. In stead of focusing so much on terrorist attacks in itself, director Nabil Ayouch focuses on how violent islamism can occur. He does this by focusing on children growing up in the outskirts of Casablanca. Deborah Young of the Hollywood Reporter wrote of the movie: "Nabil Ayouch's film is an intimate portrait of boys growing up in a toxic environment", whilst calling the movie an "engrossing, realistic study of a Moroccan slum and how it becomes a breeding ground for young terrorists".

Screenings at 13:00 on Saturday and 21:00 on Sunday at Cinemateket. 

Trailer for the movie: 

The Attack

"Although the subject of Arab-Israeli tensions is almost a staple at film festivals, The Attack manages to find a unique and compelling slant on a well-worn theme", wrote Stephen Farber of the movie. The movie starts of in Tel Aviv, where a successful surgeon is thrown in at the deep-end after learning his wife is the prime suspect of a suicide bombing that killed 17 people. Ali Suliman plays the lead role as the man who then goes on to look for answers to why his late wife, wanting to clear her name of the wrongdoings. Director Ziad Douieri is an accomplished filmmaker, and has won numerous awards for his previous two feature films, 'West Beirut' and 'Lila Says'. For 'West Beirut' he won the François Chalais Award at the Cannes Film Festival, just as Nabil Ayouch did last year for 'Horses of God'. Prior to his directorial debut in 1998 he worked as a first camera assistant for Quentin Tarantino on the influential directors first movies, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown. Ziad Douieri will be present at the Arabian Film Fest, and there will be a conversation with him after the screening. 

Screenings at 18:00 on Friday and 17:45 on Saturday at Cinemateket.

Trailer for the movie: 

When I Saw You

When I Saw You [Screen Dump from Trailer]

Just like 'Wadjda' and 'Horses of God', this movie features a young character in a lead role, and Mahmoud Asfa has recieved praise for his job in the movie. The story takes place in 1967, just after the end of the Six Day War between Israel and it's neighboring countries Jordan, Syria and United Arab Republic (now Egypt). Young Tariq is one of many Palestinian refugees, and the movie follows his journey as he leaves the refugee camp, and ends up with a group of rebels together with his mother. Although comparisons can be made with one of last years movies at the Films from the South-festival 'War Witch', scratching beneath the surface of the movie quickly dissolves this comparison. Whilst both movies include young kids ending up at the hands of rebels, in 'When I Saw You', Tariq is treated as an equal and essentially find a "home" with the rebels. In 'War Witch', there is a much more grim portrait of child soldiers, something which is not at all the basis of this movie, directed by Annemarie Jacir. Jacir won a lot of praise and awards for her debut feature film Salt of this Sea in 2008.

Screenings at 20:20 on Saturday and 19:00 on Sunday at Cinemateket. 

In Search of Oil and Sand

Co-directed by Philippe Dib and Wael Omar, this documentary takes an interesting look at the collapse of the Egyptian monarchy in 1952. Producer Mahmoud Sabit is one of the last living members of the Egyptian Royal Family, and having found an old film roll, he discovers that the Egyptian Royal Family were actually making a fiction film about a military coup. "Mahmoud reconstructs the strange story of the film production and its array of real-life players, as well as their subsequent fates in a post-monarchial Egypt as the Cold War begins", writes Mark Adams in his review. One of the directors of the movie, Wael Omar, says this about how he came to make documentaries:

I'd love to direct more fiction, especially that I have theater background. At the same time, I just can't resist an interesting subject. I think the difference is that with fiction, you have to tell the stories that you know, and with documentaries you tell stories that you are still in the middle of discovering - [from an interview by Vanessa McMahon, November 2012]
There will be held a conversation with producer Mahmoud Sabit after the screening.

Screenings at 18:00 on Saturday and 17:15 on Sunday at Cinemateket.

Mahmoud Sabit

Also showing at the Festival is Aladdin (USA, 1992), Powerless (Lebanon, 2012) and this years choice for classic movie Silence of the Palace (Tunisia, 1994), as well as the short film The Secret Capital (Egypt, 2013) and Shorts from the Gulf (United Arab Emirates & Saudi Arabia, 2012). The latter being a double-feature, both focusing on the challenges of being a woman in a patriarchal society. 


1. Who becomes Violent Islamists?

In addition to the films being shown, there will also be held debates during the Arabian Film Fest. On Saturday April 20th at 15:00, the first one takes place. This debate asks the question of "Who becomes a violent islamists?". This debate will be held directly after the screening of 'Horses of God', and attendance to the debate requires a ticket to this film. Participants in the debate are as follows:

Beverly Milton Edwards, Professor of Politics at Queens University in Belfast. She is internationally known for her work revolving violent islamism, with her main focus on the Israel-Palestina conflict.

Laila Bokhari, Norwegian-Pakistani writer/political analyst, with knowledge of islamism. She has, amongst other things, worked for the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, as well as the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment. Follow her on twitter here.

Samuel Schielke, anthropologist at Freie Universität in Berlin. His main focus has been islamic movements, especially focusing on Egypt.

Leading the debate is Sindre Bangstad - anthrolopologist and author.

2. Can the Palestinian refugee problem be solved?

At 14:00 on Sunday April 21st, the second debate takes place, in connection with the movie 'A World Not Ours'. The debate will raise questions in direct link with the movie, such as what will happen with the refugees next. Can they be incorporated in their new surroundings? Can they ever return to Palestina? What will happen to the Israel we know today? The Debate is held in cooperation with 'Norwegian People's Aid', a humanitarian organisation for solidarity. As with the debate on Saturday, this debate also requires a ticket to the movie is it held in connection to, and is held straight after the screening. Both debates are set to last for about 45-60 minutes. Participants to this debate are as follows:

Are Knudsen, Senior Researcher at CMI, a development research institute. He is a social anthropologist focusing on peace and conflict, and is known for his work involving palestinian refugee identity and affiliation in Lebanon.

Trude Falch - Senior Advisor for Norwegian People's Aid for the Middle East. Lebanon, Syria and Iraq are her main areas of focus.

Akram Attallah - Researcher at Fafo's office in Betlehem. Fafo is an independent research foundation that does research on social welfare, migration and integration and living conditions, amongst other things. He has participated in research projects focusing on the situations of palestinian refugees in various countries.

Leading the debate is Gjermund Granlund, Project Leader of the Arabian Film Fest.

How to attend. Tickets and info

For info on how to get a festival pass, or tickets to single screenings, check out this page. 

Where is the festival taking place? Check out this page for address and directions.

Feel free to leave comments in the comments sections. Also feel free to use it if you have questions regarding directions or what-not.

For the full program, see this page.

In the words of the late Roger Ebert, see you at the movies!

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