In order to make this a recurring event in Dubai, Cinema Akil has partnered with Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, Goethe Institut Gulf Region, and Safar Film Festival.
Cinema Akil, Dubai’s independent cinema, has announced its first-ever edition of Arab Cinema Week. The ten-day event, scheduled from October 7 and 16, has been launched as a recurring annual journey to represent stories and talent from the region.
Curated by Rabih El-Khoury, Arab Cinema Week will open with BAFTA-winning Jordanian director Bassel Ghandour’s, The Alleys and screen Arab features and shorts including Michel Kammoun’s film, Beirut Hold’em, starring Saleh Bakri. The event will also place focus on films from Algeria to reflect on 60 years of Algerian independence, productions from Somalia’s independent industry, as well as a comprehensive short film programme with films from the UAE, KSA, Qatar, Yemen and Sudan. Most of the films at the event are being screened in the UAE for the very first time.
Cinema Akil will be screening several films in the presence of their directors, giving the audience an opportunity to also meet with the creators to engage in insightful Q&As. This will include a special up-close encounter with acclaimed Palestinian actor, Saleh Bakri on October 9, in which he will conduct a master class to discuss his career and extensive collaborations with Arab filmmakers to produce authentic Arab stories.
The journey of the Arab Cinema Week starts on the narrow streets of Amman in Bassel Ghandour’s, The Alleys, followed by a Q&A with the award-winning director himself. Becoming, an omnibus film by five female Saudi directors, presents a collection of stories joined by reflections on womanhood. The film has already received critical acclaim at multiple festivals including the Red Sea Film Festival and Cairo Film Festival and will be presented by emerging talent Sara Mesffe. The programme will also screen Beirut Hold’em (Michel Kammoun), as well as Egyptian director Omar El Zohairy’s 2021 dramedy Feathers, and Khadar Ahmed’s 2021 Djibouti-set Somali feature debut, The Gravedigger’s Wife.
Curator Rabih El Khoury has also placed an Algerian focus on the event to reflect on the country’s 60 years of independence with the screening of Karim Aïnouz’s documentary Mariner of Mountains (2021), Djaffar Gacem’s historic drama Héliopolis (2021), and Salah Issaad’s contemporary Soula. The festival’s Algerian focus is set to culminate in a screening of the 1966 classic, The Battle of Algiers.
Arab Cinema Week’s short film programme addresses human bonds to bring together stories from UAE, Qatar, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Tunisia including Emirati female director, Sarah AlHashimi’s Why Is My Grandfather’s Bed In Our Living Room?.
Speaking about launching the first edition of Arab Cinema week, Butheina Kazim, Founder of Cinema Akil, said: “The first edition of Arab Cinema Week delivers on our mission of being the home of Arab independent cinema and filmmakers. With a robust lineup of speakers and filmmakers coming to Dubai for this, the programme brings together stories from 11 Arab countries, and showcases nine feature films and six shorts while also highlighting nine female directors from across the region. In the absence of a national film festival, I am proud to dedicate our platform to annually present a range in the programme that also celebrates the growing film industries in our region; giving them the attention they very much deserve. We have proudly partnered with the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, the Goethe Institut Gulf Region and the Safar Film Festival to be able to make this a recurring event for Dubai and we have no doubt that the week will be a memorable journey for movie lovers across our communities.”
Rabih El-Khoury added: “Arab Cinema Week, in addition to hosting and screening innovative works of the Arab world’s acclaimed and emerging artists, has been designed to bring together a range of themes for Arab stories with filmmakers narrating their heartbreaks, their quotidien, their victories, their struggles and their moments of personal bliss. Each of them is unique, telling, and speaking volumes about the talent our region holds. The programme has been conceived to spark conversation and encourage discussion, all of which will be made possible with the presence of creators at their respective screenings. There is an important dialogue to be held and a platform like Cinema Akil, which over the years has brought Dubai’s diverse communities together in the name of art and love of film, is the perfect setting to do this.”