15 Powerful Muhr Arab Documentaries Explore Women’s Lives and Society Post Arab Spring…

Wed Nov 21,2012

Dubai, November 20th, 2012 – Eight World Premieres, Two International Premieres and five Middle East Premieres form the outstanding line-up for the 2012 Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) Muhr Arab Documentary Awards. Themes among the 15 films contending for the top honours at the Festival range from the complex realities of family bonds and survival against the odds, to the shift in societal norms and a struggle for freedom; all set against the background of an evolving Arab landscape.

DIFF Artistic Director, Masoud Amralla Al Ali commented, “Muhr Arab Documentaries empowers emerging and established filmmakers alike to tell compelling, hard hitting and true-to-life stories in this ever changing society. This year’s documentaries explore the struggle between what is static and what is changing and the effects this has on those living in the Arab world, particularly women.”

Sleepless Nights, which was selected as the winning film for the Cinema in Motion Award at the San Sebastian Festival in 2011, explores war wounds through the eyes of an ex high-ranking leader in the Christian militia—responsible for many killings in the Lebanese Civil War. Directed by Eliane Raheb from Lebanon the film will make its Middle East Premiere at DIFF.

From Yemen, Khadijah Al-Salami’s The Scream focuses on women’s activism within the context of Yemeni society, while women’s roles are severely proscribed; they nevertheless took to the streets to depose former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Considered the first female producer in Yemen Khadija Al Salami will present the World Premiere of The Scream at DIFF.

In its Middle East Premire, the accomplished documentary Dance of Outlaws by Mohamed El Aboudi, which received an award at Locarno International Film Festival, profiles a Moroccan woman who does not officially exist because she was abused and deprived by her shamed family as a teenager. She is a pawn in the great political change sweeping across the Arab world but refuses to give up her dream of dignity, motherhood and love.

The World Premiere of Lebanese director Farah Kassem’s My Father Looks like Abdel Nasser will take place during DIFF. The poignant film explores the unspoken bond between father and daughter, the wisdom of parents and the stories belonging to a past generation.

Additional films being showcased in the category include the World Premiere of Doaa…Aziza, by Egyptian director Saad Hendawy, which explores the timeless question: is the grass really is greener on the other side? In its World Premiere, Karim Goury’s documentary The Man Inside, a son revisits the last place his father was seen alive, twenty-two years ago in Kuwait City.

The ongoing Palestinian situation is the subject of two powerful documentaries both World Premieres. Gaza Calling, by Nahed Awad, two men are forced to be “infiltrators” in their own country originally from Gaza, they work and live in Ramallah in the West Bank. The film demonstrates the impact on Palestinian families of the draconian siege maintained by Israeli authorities. Khaled Jarrar’s Infiltrators documents a series of “adventures,” ingenious courses of action taken by ordinary Palestinians to overcome the obstacles presented by the Israeli Wall. Land of the Story by Rashed Masharawi another World Premiere deals with the hardships of those struggling to disconnect from their homeland land.

Several films struggle with issues of memory, loss and redemption: in The Turtle’s Rage, German-Palestinian filmmaker Pary El-Qalqili travels with her father to their native Palestine in an attempt to discover why he has cut the family off after a failed attempt to become a freedom fighter in Palestine years ago. The film will make its’ Middle East Premiere at DIFF along with Amal’s Garden, a documentary by experimental filmmaker and musician Nida Shihab, is a hopeful portrait of an elderly couple who decide to renovate their home after a decade of war.

Revolution is in the air throughout the Muhr Arab Documentary selections: in Hinde Boujemaa’s It was Better Tomorrow, homeless Kaabi and her son Faouzi live hand to mouth, squatting in apartments left empty by fleeing multinationals. This will make its Middle East Premiere at DIFF following excellent reviews at both Venice International Film Festival and Stockholm Int. Film Festival. The documentary True Story of Love, Life Death and Sometimes Revolution, an International Premiere by Nidal Hassan, gathers the views and testimonies of Syrian women during the upheaval, fear and hope of the Syrian revolution.

Meanwhile Lamine Ammar Khodja’s diary of homecoming Ask Your Shadow mixes the existential questions of a prodigal Algerian with the political events sweeping the region. Khodj’s first feature documentary and Middle East Premiere was also selected in FID Marseille 2012 and received the First Film Prize.  Finally, in its International Premiere the creative documentary Family Albums questions Mahmoud Darwish’s sentence: “Identity is our legacy and not our inheritance; our invention and not our memory.” Four film-makers draw up a sensitive portrait of the Arab world composed of their daily lives in four different places.

Erfan Rashid, Director Arab Programme, commented; “Set against the turbulent background of the current Arab world the selection of Documentaries in this year’s category represents the real-life stories the public want to see. These inspiring and emotive documentaries show the true value of storytelling and, for those who experience them, I’m sure they will evoke a need and understanding for the diverse and complex cultures surrounding us.”

The Festival will showcase features, documentaries and shorts by Arab filmmakers for the Muhr Arab Awards, which are judged by an international jury comprising eminent filmmakers and professionals.

“Friends of the Festival” packages are now available for the upcoming 9th edition of DIFF. Film enthusiasts can select from any of the six exclusive tiers - DIFF Platinum Partner, DIFF Gold Circle, Patron of DIFF, DIFF Supporter, DIFF Genre and DIFF 10 and 25 ticket deals. In return, patrons will receive insider access to the Festival as an acknowledgement of their support for one of the most anticipated events on the UAE’s cultural calendar. For full details on each package and ticket purchases please visit, contact or the call centre 363-3456.

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