Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A New Moroccan Movie on Relations between Muslims and Jews

Adieu Mères (Goodbye Mothers): A movie by Mohamed Ismail

Movie's Official Web Site:

"Mohamed Ismail’s Goodbye Mothers, dares to depict the peaceful co-existence in 1960s Casablanca of two families – one Muslim and one Jewish – at a time historically when many Jews were faced with the dilemma of whether or not to emigrate to Israel.

"Two years ago in Morocco, writer-director Laila Marrakchi’s romance Marock, about a Jewish man’s love affair with a Muslim woman [...] , caused a great deal of controversy among critics and the public, [...]. Maya Film, producers of Goodbye Mothers, expect the same kind of reaction to their film, which, following its festival premiere, is slated to hit movie theaters in Tangiers and other parts of the country by the end of the year.

"Ismail is perhaps best known for his 2002 film Et Après? which featured Victoria Abril and depicted life in Morocco through the eyes of a young male chauvinist, happy to avail himself of European female company but weary of his sister venturing out of the house. [...]

"The film festivals launched in Casablanca, as well as those of Tangiers and Marrakesh, has played a critical role in buttressing indigenous cinema to the next level. And with artistic expression and expansion comes the inevitable spot fires of controversy."

Libya: Colonel Qaddafi to fund movie on Italian colonialism

"A movie about the Italian occupation of Libya from 1911 to 1943 is being made by Syrian filmmaker Najdat Anzour with the help of Libya's president Muammar Qaddafi, who will finance the film and contribute to the screenplay.

"'Dhulm: Years of Torment' will feature for the first time first-hand accounts by international and local witnesses of the Italian colonial period. [...]"

Source: Adnkronos

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

9th Edition of the Moroccan National Fim Festival in Tangier

The 9th Edition of the Tangier National Film Festival tackeled identity problems, the exodus of Moroccan Jews, masculine impotence and the new trend of young rockers accused of "satanism".

The Festival took place in the Moroccan city of Tangier from the 18th til the 27th of October with the precence of the new Moroccan Minister for Culture, the actress Touria Jabrane.

3rd Edition of the Casablanca Film Festival


The third Edition of CASA CINE, the Casablanca Film Festical, is going to start the 31st of October until the 6th of November.

To Know more go visit the official Web Site of the Festival:

Marrakesh Film Festival

2007 Marrakech Film Festival to pay tribute to Egyptian cinema

"The Marrakech International Film Festival (FIFM), will pay special tribute to the Egyptian cinema in its 7th edition, slated for December 7-15, said Noureddine Sail, Vice President of the FIFM Foundation and Chairman of the Centre Cinématographique Marocain (CCM).

"Some 90 Egyptian directors will attend this year's festival edition, which coincides with the centenary of Egyptian cinema, said Mr. Sail who was on a two-day visit to Egypt to coordinate with the Egyptian officials the preparations for the festival.
The Marrakech festival is due to screen 40 major Egyptian movies, including (hymn of hope), which was shot in the 30s starring Diva Oum khaltoum, and 'Imarat Yacoubian' 'the Yacoubian building' featuring famous Egyptian actor Adel Imam. [...]"

Source: (Morocco), October 10, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

First Libyan Horror Movie

Drops of Horror: First Horror Movie to be Produced in Libya

"In the midst of murder and mystery an intricate tale of horror holds audiences in suspense. Entitled: Drops of Horror, its producers have affirmed that this is the first horror film to be produced in Libya.

"Drops of Horror being true to its name is played by nine young talented first time actors, Housam Shghaifa, Mohamed Farekash, Adam Bargathy, Ahmed Sewi, Hamza Osman, Nada Alrahaibi, Suaad Alnasify, Rewada Mohamed Said and Mowada Bushnaf. Most of them are students at Al Fateh Centre for the Gifted in Benghazi.

"Twenty-three-year-old Maye Bushnaf director and cameraman said: 'It’s a unique first, a Libyan horror film produced by locally talented actors. The story line is set over two days of suspense with an intriguing twist and an Islamic moral to the story.'

"'Drops of Horror' was filmed in 2005 over a period of two months at the Al Fateh centre for the Gifted. It is a low budget production film of 49 minutes duration that was finally finished for release in November of 2006. [...]"
Source: Tripoli Post, August 4, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Perspective on Casablanca

À Casablanca les Anges Ne Volent Pas (In Casablanca Angels don't fly, 2004)

Director: Mohamed Asli
Script Writer: Mohamed Asli
Cast: Abdessamed Miftah El Kheir, Abderrazak el Badaoui, Rachid El Hazmir, Leila El Ahyani, Abdelaziz Essghyr
Release year: 2004, Cannes Film Festival
Genre: Drama
Country: Morocco/Italy
Time: 94 min.

About the movie:
The experiences of a trio of migrant workers in a Casablanca café are sympathetically explored in this accomplished debut feature from Moroccan director Mohamed Asli. Regularly sending money back to their families in the countryside, the men refuse to give up on their dreams, even in the face of the harsh realities of both urban and rural life. The result is an imaginative, credible work whose comic touches don’t obscure the suffering endured by its characters and the remote communities they’ve left behind.

About the Director: Born in 1957, the Moroccan director Mohamed Asli entered outstandingly in the universe of the features with "A Casablanca, les angels ne volent pas". Source:

New Documentary Movie on Illegal Car Racing Phenomenon in Saudi Arabia

The French Channel, France 24, recently reported on a new movie-documnetary on the growing car racing's phenomenon among youngster in Saudi Arabia by young director Taoufic Al Ziyadi.

Usually, young Saudis are recording themselves while illegally car racing and uploading their videos on You Tube website:

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Tunisian Quentin Tarantino

VHS Kahloucha (2006)

Director: Nejib Belkadhi
Script Writer: Nejib Belkadhi
Cast: Moncef Kahloucha
Release Date: December 2006
Genre: Documentary
Country: Tunisia
Time: 80 min.

About the Movie:
"Tunisia is not a country renowned for its film industry. [...] Apparently no one told this to Moncef Kahloucha. A charismatic, impassioned house painter, Kahloucha has always harbored a great love for cinema, especially 1970s genre cinema.
"Armed with his VHS Panasonic 3500, Kahloucha has made a battery of homage pieces including I Had No Money and Now I'm Loaded and Misery to Get Rid of the Booze. Deep in production on his latest feature, Tarzan of the Arabs, Kahloucha is endearingly painted in this astounding documentary.

Tunisino, VHS Kahloucha's Soundtrack

"Watch as Tunisia's Quentin Tarantino employs the help of local acting talent to stage intense chases, well-choreographed fight sequences and fantastical plotlines, and wait until you see to what lengths Kahloucha will go to get the perfect shot.
"Nejib Belkadhi's entertaining portrait captures not only the ray of light that Kahloucha shines into the mundane lives of his cast, crew and viewers, but also a personal side of the filmmaker as he reveals his secret love for his favorite lead actress, a sultry senior citizen who is at constant odds with her spouse about her role in the films. For anyone who has ever dreamed of making a movie, Kahloucha's story is an inspirational revelation." Source:

About the Director: Nejib Belkadhi is a Tunisian film director

Movie's Official Website:

"Shi'a Echoes from Lebanon"

"True to its title, Hady Zaccak's 'Shi'a Echoes from Lebanon' sets out to capture the shades of political opinion held by Lebanese Shiites.

"To do this, the director profiles three young people who have 'Shiite' stamped in their Lebanese identity papers. This minimum requirement is necessary. Lebanon's political system may subordinate the rights of its citizens to the privileges of its religious communities (their leadership, that is), but many Lebanese prefer to see themselves as individuals.

"Marwan Hamdan is an aspiring filmmaker and a member of Lebanon's Democratic Left Movement (the only secular leftist organization in the governing 14 March coalition).

"Fuad Kreiss supports the Amal Movement of Speaker Nabih Berri.

"Israa Aoudeh follows Hizbullah.

"By way of background, Zaccak introduces us to his informants' parents. Hamdan's father joined the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP) in 1974 and was an LCP official in the southern suburb of Haret Hreik throughout the Civil War. Kreiss' father says he went into business because he despises politics.

"The heavily veiled Aoudeh says her parents were religious but did not force her to take the hijab. 'I have a biological father who raised me," she says, ' but I also have a political father in Hassan Nasrallah ... and my spiritual guide is [Iranian supreme leader] Ali Khamenei.' [...]"

Source: Daily Star (Lebanon), September 28, 2007

"Qataris flock to watch controversial movie"

"Hundreds of Qataris are flocking to movie theatres in the night to watch The Kingdom, an American movie set in Saudi Arabia that has been banned in Kuwait and Bahrain. [...]"

Source: Gulf News (UAE), Octrober 25, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Moroccan movie on drug dealing business

La Vague blanche (The white wave, 2006)

Director: Mohammed Ali Majboud
Script Writer: Mohammed Ali Majboud
Cast: Aissam Bou Ali, Mohammed Qatib, Aliaa Reggab
Release Date: December 7, 2006 (Cairo Film Festival)
Genre: Drama
Country: Morocco
Time: 90 min.

About the movie: Mostafa Adib, 30, has just finished a prison sentence of five years or drug smuggling. One night on the beach he meets Nasser, who comes from a good family. Nasser asks him for help in getting out a package he found in the water. They discover that it contains dozens of kilogrammes of cocaine and they decide to sell it. Mostafa contributes with his connections in the drug dealing business, while Nasser puts his car and apartment in the service of the transaction. Eventually they find an interested buyer, but he turns out to be a peril to both men. Based on true events which took place in the summer of 1996 in Casablanca. Source:

About the Director: Mohammed Ali Majboud is a Morrocan director

A Tunisian movie on a failed indoctrination by Islamists

Making off (2006)

Director: Nouri Bouzid
Script Writer: Nouri Bouzid
Cast: Lofti Abdell, Afef Ben Mahmoud, Fatima Ben Saïdane, Foued Litaiem.
Release Date: November 14, 2006 (Tunisia)

Genre: Drama
Country: Tunisia
Time: 115 min

About the Movie: "Twenty-five-year-old Bahta (Lotfi Abdelli) has no job, no degree and no prospects. His one passion is breakdancing, but even that outlet is regularly and violently repressed by the cops.

"His cab driver father disapproves of his idle ways and even his mother's (Fatma Ben Saidane) fierce love seemingly cannot bestow self-worth on him. His girlfriend Souad (Afef Ben Mahmoud), fed up with Bahta's shenanigans, is pursuing a singing career or another man or both.

"The American war in Iraq [...] closes the door to Europe, the traditional escape hatch for disenfranchised Tunisians. [...]

"Bahta's latest rebellious stunt, stealing his cousin's police uniform and theatrically lording it over patrons at a cafe, concludes with him on the run from real cops. The incident brings him to the attention of fundamentalists led by a funerary engraver (Lotfi Dziri), who offers the overgrown boy acceptance and advice in the form of misogynistic diatribes and tirades against 'sinful' song, dance and art. [...]

"'Making off' is the story of a failed indoctrination. [...]" Source:

About the Director: Nouri Bouzid is a Tunisian director. In "Making off", Nouri Bouzid wanted to show how radical Islamists turn youths into suicide bombers, and why some young Muslims are attracted to the idea of violence.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A movie on the Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca)

Le Grand Voyage (2004)

Director: Ismael Ferroukhi
Script Writer: Ismael Ferroukhi
Cast: Nicolas Cazale, Mohammed Majd, Jacky Nercessian, Ghina Ognianova, Kamel Belghazi, Atik Mohammed, Malika Mesrar El Hadaoui
Release Date: Septembre 7, 2004 (Venice Film Festival)
Genre: Drama
Country: France, Morocco
Time: 108 min

About the movie: A few weeks before his college entrance exams, Reda (Nicolas Cazale), a young man who lives in the south of France, finds himself obligated to drive his father to Mecca.
From the start, the journey looks to be difficult: Reda and his father (Mohamed Majd) have nothing in common. The wide cultural and generational gap between the two is worsened by the lack of communication between the two. Reda finds it hard to accommodate his father, who demands respect for himself and his pilgrimage.
From France, through Italy, Serbia, Turkey, Syria, Jordan to Saudi Arabia- the two will embark on a road trip to Mecca that will change their lives. Source:

About the movie director: Ismael Ferroukhi is a French-Moroccan director, born in Kenitra (Morocco).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

First film about Saudi king on Al-Arabiya Nov. 1

"In an unprecedented move in the Middle East, Al-Arabiya TV will on November 1, 2007, air a 5-part documentary about the life of Saudi king Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, revealing new dimensions of the king's personal life and most significant political stances.

"His dispute with U.S. President George W. Bush, the attempt on his life, and the way he handled the Saudi economic crisis a few years ago will figure high on the 5-episode film.

"The documentary reveals the reform and foreign policy challenges the king faced in the past 10 years. The film also sheds light on the life and achievements of 'The king of humaneness', as people call him.

"One of the parts will be about the critical rift between Riyadh and Washington due to American bias towards Israel during the second Palestinian intifida (uprising). Secretary-General of the National Security Council Prince Bandar bin Sultan recounts the fury of the then crown prince, and the harsh letter he sent to Bush.

"After this letter, Bandar goes on, Bush promised to recognize two co-existing states for the first time in the history of the White House. However, king Abdullah demanded a written commitment. From there, king Abdullah launched the Arab peace initiative.

"In an interview for the film, Bush said king Abdullah is not just a friend: 'He is a friend whose opinion matters. Although we disagree sometimes, I respect him and his policies very much'."


Source: Al-Arabiya (Saudi owned, based in Dubai), October 23, 2007

Lebanese "Ecological" Movie

Movie about Sidon dump wins first prize at ecological film festival in France

"Lebanese director Mohammad Sarji won first prize at the International Ecological Film Festival in the French region of Bourges for his film "La Montagne de Saida" (Sidon Mountain). [...]

"The 15-minute film sheds light on the catastrophic impact of Sidon's notorious garbage dump on the area's environment. [...]

"In the film, Julia Hammoud, a 7-year-old girl from Sidon, relates the story of the trash heap, highlighting its dangers and negative effects on the health of residents, particularly children. Sidon's children suffer from asthma more than children anywhere else in Lebanon. [...]"

Source: Daily Star (Lebanon)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A fascinating Egyptian movie dealing with Terrorism

Al Irhabi (The Terrorist, 1994)

Director: Nader Galal
Script Writer: Lenine El-Ramli
Cast: Adel Imam, Ahmed Rateb, Hanan Shawki, Sherine Ibrahim, Youssraoussri, Mahida Youssri, Zalah Zolfaka

About the movie: "Al-Irhabi was produced in 1994 with private funding [...]

"In the movie, Imam plays a terrorist who, during the confusion of a bungled attack, ends up recovering on the couch of the kind of bourgeois, secular family who he most hates. He realizes that he was wrong about them, and bonds with the family over the Egyptian national football team [...].

"After he's exposed, he tries to return to the family to plead his case and demonstrate that he's changed, but his terrorist ex-colleagues murder him. [...]"

About the director: Nadel Galal is an Egyptian director son of actress and movie producer Ms Queeny, born in Lebanon.

Egyptian movie "Free time" fills cinema houses

" [...] The first Egyptian movie goes back as far as the early twenties, which means it came at the same time that the international cinema was starting in different parts of the world like France and the United States of America.

"According to the London daily Elaph, Egyptian cinema started producing films long before international film festivals were created, which means that the Egyptian cinema was a major and independent element and not dependent. It continued moving toward perfection, because it was making at least 10 movies every year back then and it was nominated to win awards in the international cinema festivals. Even though Egyptian cinema stands in the dark side now, it still holds the base and the ability to bring out good productions that was inherited through generations.

"An independent movie done by young people called “Awqat Faragh” (Free Time) is considered among the low movies, which was produced in the mid of 2006 and many movie theaters are showing it on their screens. The scenario writer is young 19 years old ‘Omar Jamal’ and production is by Muhammad Mustafa. The entire film casts are young and it was their first experience in front of a camera excluding the actress “Randa Al Behairi” who had minor roles in a number of movies. [...]

"The main characters in the movie are ‘Hazem’ a rich young man that the whole group ‘his friends’ rely on, then comes ‘Ahmad’ comes from a very poor family who lives on a dream that one day things will get better for him and he falls in love with ‘May’.

"On the other hand ‘May’ is realistic and tries to be stable with her thoughts and behavior. The other characters are ‘Tareq’ who lives an easy life with his divorced mother and ‘Mina’ who lives a conflicting life styles for instance one day she put the ‘Hijab’ (Muslim women head cover) and another where she’s laying in her lover’s arms looking for lost affections. [...]

"One of the best things in the movie is the song “Dawayer” (Circles), written by the poet Abed Al Rahman Al Abnodi and composed and sang by the Lebanese singer Marwan Khouri.

"The movie is considered with all its positive and negative views as the one of the best experiences of young writers and actors, because it holds a real view of how cinema should be made. It also attempts to be realist in their views and in bringing real life experiences. It is needless to say that the Egyptian cinema critics nominated the movie as the best film of 2006".

Source: (Jordan)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Forgotten Village: Saudi’s First Horror Movie

The Forgotten Village

"In 2006, Saudi cinema was brought to the fore when two feature films, namely ‘Dhilal al Samt’ [Shadow of Silence] and ‘Keif al Haal’ [How are you?] were released, both raising controversy amongst film critics and the public. Today, however, a new feature film, entitled ‘The Forgotten Village’ [Qariyat al Mansiya] that has been released in Egypt, will bring Saudi cinema back into the limelight.

"‘The Forgotten Village’ is a horror film based on the novel by Tarik al Dakhiel and directed by Abdullah Abo Talib. It features Mohammed Hashim, Hamed al Ghamdi, Baraa Alaf and Egyptian media figure, Shaymaa al Fadal in addition to other young stars from France, Canada and America.

"The plot of the film is based on group of young Arabs who meet some foreign tourists and forced by circumstance to stay in an isolated village, the residents of which believe that it is haunted by spirits and evil beings that appear only at night. The film looks at the phenomena of superstition and mythology amongst the people of the Gulf. [...]

So why produce a horror film?
Abo Talib highlighted that he is fully aware that Egyptian cinema is famous for its comedies that are very popular in Egypt and the Arab world. For this reason, Abo Talib wanted to test the waters and try something that not many others [in the region] had tried before him, because he wants commercial success for his film as well as critical acclaim. [...]"
Source: Asharq Al Awsat (Saudi owned, based in London), September 6 , 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Banning Hollywood movie ‘The Kingdom’ Is Counterproductive, Say Experts

"The banning of the new Hollywood movie “The Kingdom” by Bahrain and Kuwait this week was deemed counterproductive and largely symbolic by a cross-section of experts interviewed by Arab News. [...]

"Saudi Arabia has not yet announced a ban on the movie. While the Kingdom has no movie theaters, DVD films (both licensed and pirated copies) are widely available. A ban would mean the film would only be available as pirated copies sold on the street.

"'The Kingdom' is already being screened in the United Arab Emirates and was to be screened during Eid Al-Fitr in Qatar. [...]"

Source: Arab News (Saudi Arabia), October 12, 2007

Algerian Movie against Terrorism

Rachida (2002)

Director: Yasmina Bachir
Script Writer: Yasmina Bachir
Cast: Ibtissem Djouadi, Bahia Rachedi, Rachida Messaoui En, hamid Remas, Zaki Boulenafed, Amel Choukh, Abdelkader Belmokadem, Azzedine Bougherra
Release Date: May 21, 2002 (Cannes Film Festival)
Genre: Drama
Country: Algeria
Time: 100 min

About the Movie: "Rachida, a young and self-assured teacher at an elementary school, becomes the target of terrorists when she refuses to place a bomb in her classroom. This acclaimed debut feature offers a unique glimpse into the lives of ordinary citizens in Algeria, where terrorism was commonplace during the civil conflict of the 1990s. [...]
"This moving film makes no concessions to the criminals and not even tries to give any lessons or make judgments: The director testifies on a society that sinks in violence but she does not forget to show all the 'anonymous' people whose acts of bravery and courage saved the country from the reign of terror. [...]
"The film reminds us that life, joy and hope never left Algerian society. During that difficult time in the past, our children continued to go to school, women lived, worked, organised feasts and encouraged men to resist terror through any way they could." Source:

About the Director: Yasmina Bachir is a French-Algerian Director

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Arab leading newspaper on Hollywood movie "The Kingdom"

"The Kingdom: Where Hollywood Movie Making and Saudi Realities Meet"

"Prior to watching a private screening of 'The Kingdom', I was under the preconceived notion that it would depict Arabs and Muslims in a negative light.

“'This will be another one of those films which portrays us as terrorists, and Americans, as usual, will come to save the day,' I thought to myself as I prepared to watch this new Hollywood blockbuster, the plot of which centers around a terrorist attack that hits a Western compound in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and the retaliation of a team of FBI agents who make a secret trip to Saudi Arabia to find those accountable.

"I sat there holding my notebook, ready to pounce at the first inaccuracy however; despite some aspects which might be perceived by some as negative, many might be pleasantly surprised after watching this film, bearing in mind that Arabs have for a long time been among Hollywood's favorite villains. [...]

"In all cases, the film is definitely action-packed, and perhaps Saudis and Arabs may enjoy it more than Americans, as events are depicted as taking place in the Saudi capital…and it is not every day that you watch a Hollywood-style car chase happening on the streets of Riyadh. For Westerners, the movie might be an interesting 'insight' to a culture that is very different to their own, but most importantly it builds on the similarities between moderates in the West and in the Middle East, and the lingering threat of terrorism to both worlds."
Source: Asharq Al-Awsat (Saudi owned, based in London), By Faisal Abbas

Friday, October 12, 2007

"Coptic Church gives go-ahead signal: Egyptian movie tackles Christian extremism"

"Egypt’s megastar Adel Imam said the Coptic Church has given its approval to a new film where he plays a priest under threats from Christian extremists. The top comedian also highlighted a meeting with Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Shenouda III over the same topic.

"Imam further stressed that his meeting with Shenouda III addressed all thorny issues the movie is expected to trigger, according to UAE’s daily Al-Bayan. Imam is Egypt’s lead comedian and he is not unfamiliar with films that target extremism in the biggest Arab country.

"His film 'The Terrorist' (Al-Irhaby, in Arabic) in the mid 1990s tackled the issue of Islamists and extremism, but Imam received threats to his life from some fanatics believing the feature tarnished Islamist groups, in favor of the regime.

"In the new film, the priest, to be played by Imam, also receives death threats from Christian fanatics. He then escapes incognito to Alexandria, where the picture sheds light on the 2005 sectarian clashes in the coastal city and Egypt’s second largest. In late 2005 and early 2006, Alexandria was plagued by some Muslim-Christian feuding that took many lives and threatened a spill over through the country.

"The clashes erupted over a play performed at a church which Muslims considered derogatory.The film’s goal, according to Imam, seeks to bring the sectarian strife to the fore. Shooting is to start after Eid al-Fitr (the Muslim holiday marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan). The director and the rest of the actors are yet to be chosen. The movie depicts the relationship between the priest and a sheikh. They share the same plight: each is targeted by fundamentalists of his religion. They are both on the run and undercover.

"The priest escapes an attempt on his life for advocating national unity. The frame, like all Imam’s films, is a comic one, and doctrine is not expected to be addressed directly, according to the film crew.Imam thinks this movie will get him into "the wasp nest," but he insists on tackling such a sensitive issue: 'This is a threat to our national security, and we can't stand still.' Imam recently starred 'The Embassy is in the building' which tackled normalization with Israel, still considered the enemy by the overwhelming majority of Egyptians despite the peace treaty signed almost three decades ago."

Source: (Saudi owned, based in Dubai), October 12, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Abu Dhabi launches first film festival: Hopes to become Hollywood of the Gulf

Abu Dhabi launches its first film festival and fund this month in a bid to grow a movie industry in a Gulf region often seen as a cultural desert and where films are often heavily censored. Running from October 14-19, the Middle East International Film Festival aims to encourage home-grown talent and emerging film makers both with cash and the Black Pearl Awards trophies. [...]

The festival is the latest in a series of projects Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, hopes will mark it out as the cultural heart of the region competing with Egypt, which celebrates 100 years of Arab cinema this year. The Gulf has produced few films of world repute and cinemas are banned in the conservative Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia, cutting film makers off from their biggest audience. Problems are compounded by the censorship of movies in the Gulf.

However, organizers say the festival films will not be censored. [...] Several films dealing with sensitive issues will be shown. They include Egyptian documentary "Salata Baladi", or Local Salad, which looks at the prickly issue of interreligious marriage and is partly shot in Israel. Also showing is Brian De Palma's "Redacted", which recreates the real-life rape and murder of a teenage Iraqi girl by U.S. troops, and shocked audiences at the Venice festival last month. The festival will show a range of Hollywood, Bollywood and Arab films, and the Black Pearl Awards will go to fiction, documentary and short films selected by a jury. The festival will showcase Arab film in its Middle East Spotlight section, and includes a section dedicated to Arab female directors. Also on is a retrospective of Gulf films including the region's first feature film, "The Cruel Sea" by Kuwaiti Director Khalid al-Siddiq, made in 1972. To support homegrown talent, the Abu Dhabi Media Company will sponsor a $100,000 cash prize for Emirati film-makers and the festival will give the first ever screening for a UAE feature film; "Jumaa and the Sea" by Hany al-Shaibany.

Source: (Saudi owned, based in Dubai), October 10, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Al Daly: An Egyptian Ramadan Serie reminding of Hariri's assassination

Al Daly

Yousif Sharaf Al Deen
TV Channel: LBC (Lebanese channel)
Cast: Noor Al-Sharif (known Egyptian actor), Sawsan Bader, Mahmoud Al Jundi, Salah Abdullah, Salah Rashwan, Muhammad Metwali, Osama Abas, Wafa Salim
Genre: Drama

About the TV Serie: The series is about the changing of political, social and economic issues between the years 1979 and 1992. The drama stars prominent Egyptian actor Noor El Sharif, who plays the role of a well-known politician that faces assassination. There is a great deal of speculation around who could be this Sa’ed Al Daly representing in real life. [...]
The character Sa’ed Al Daly is thought to represent the late engineer Othman Ahmad Othman, the founder of the company “Arab Distributors” and the Minster of housing during the late Egyptian president term Anwar Al Sadat. But many believe that the character in fact is more similar to that of the late Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafiq El Hariri. However, both assumption may be true and the character could be portraying other well-know political personalities in the Arab world. [...]

Source: (Jordan)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Ramadan TV Comedy

Ghashamsham 2

Ayman Shykhany (Syrian director)
TV Channel: Dubai TV
Cast: Fahd Al-Hayyan (Saudi Actor)
Genre: Comedy

About the TV Serie:
Slapstick comedy at its regional finest. In the first series our ‘hero’ was away from home experiencing the world. In this second series, we catch up with Rasheed Al Hoierish back in his village, where little has changed other than himself. The juxtaposition of his naivety and bad luck against the know how of other people place him in everyday situations that lead to hilarious mishaps and misunderstandings with a lesson of life to be learned from each episode.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Saudi Theater Grows, but Women are Still Sidelined

"An official of the Ministry of Culture and Information said that the ministry is pushing to have theatrical plays year-round instead of just during Eid and other special occasions. But some are pointing out that Saudi theater is still a predominantly man’s world. [...]

"Riyadh and other cities host cultural events for Eid for which plays are a large part of the programs. But for the rest of the year, plays are few and far between, despite the demand. 'Saudis will drive 100 miles to attend a play', said Mohammed Alahmed, deputy director at King Saud University’s College of Fine Arts, which performs 15 to 20 plays each year. [...]

"Saudi theater was born in 1960 with the play 'Fateh Makkah' ('Capturing Makkah'), but for the most part the art form has, like many fine arts in the Kingdom, been sidelined despite the social demand. And unlike movie theaters, plays are more or less socially acceptable, even among the most conservative members of society — provided of course that the themes and dialogue are acceptable and in deference to male audience members and gender segregation is upheld.

"Abdullah Alamer, producer of the women’s play 'Newsan Net', which is showing at King Fahd cultural Center this Eid, said to Arab News that plays for women are increasing. ('Newsan Net' revolves around the theme of women using the Internet as a venue for social interactions.) 'The plays receive remarkable response among women', said Alamer, adding that the success of these plays reflects Saudi women’s hunger to see their issues played out on stage.

"Saudi actress Agadeer Alsaead believes women need more venues for acting and attending. 'Our goal is to talk to women', she said, underscoring the point that as of yet women are still not given equal chances to perform to attend theatrical performances. For example, out of the 10 plays being scheduled in Riyadh for Eid, seven are for men only and two are being performed for children. Only one of the plays is for women."

Source: Arab News (Saudi Arabia), October 9, 2007 by Najah Alosaimi

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The first ever Saudi movie

Keif Al Hal (How is it going?, 2006)

Director: Izidore K. Musallam
Script Writer: Bilal Fadl
Cast: Hesham El Haweesh, Mees Hamdan, Khaled Samy, Turky El Youssef
Release Date: November 9, 2006
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Country: Saudi Arabia
Time: 95 min

About the Movie: Keif Al Hal, produced by the Rotana Group, is a comedy-drama depicting the tension between moderates and conservatives in the Kingdom and the conflict experienced by the young as they try to embrace globalization, while retaining cherished Islamic values. Source: Arab News (Saudi Arabia)
Read Also:
About the Director: Izidore K. Musallam, born in Haifa, now lives and works in Toronto, Canada. He graduated with a BFA in film production from York University in Toronto and has written, produced and directed a number of feature films.

Saudi Filmmakers Explore Film Genres

"SAUDIS now want to be part of the region’s filmmaking industry. Those who have achieved something have proved they are tough, reliable and strong enough to stay and welcome others as they develop.

The passion for filmmaking among Saudis has spread, especially in the past four years. It probably began when Haifa Al-Mansour, the first-ever Saudi filmmaker, produced a seven-minute short film entitled 'Who'.

Following her debut, the old belief that filming in Saudi Arabia had no future began to die. Advertising agencies started to support and nurture young talent and now the Saudi film industry is growing. This summer has been witness to the birth of three films that have been produced, directed and played by Saudis.

The movie — 'The Forgotten Village' — is a horror movie by Abdullah Abu Talib. It premiered in Cairo on Aug. 21. The documentary on Saudis in the US by Fahmi Farahat debutted on Sept. 8 in Los Angeles. The short film, entitled 'Stick With It' premiered in Jeddah and has been directed by Anggi Makki."

Source: Arab News (Saudi Arabia), August 30, 2007 by Razan Baker

Friday, October 5, 2007

Arab movies awarded at San Sebastian Film Festival

Arab directors took the biggest share of interest at San Sebastian Film Festival. The organizers awarded the Palestinian movie “Salt of this sea” to his director Anne Marie Jacir along with the Jordan’s “Recycle” to Mahmoud Al Massad. Both directors shared the Cinema in Movement award. As result of this award, both directors will have the opportunity to make final touches to their cinematographic projects. As concerned the Palestinian’s “Salt of this sea”, a consistent help will be given by the Moroccan Cinematographic center in addition to a financial aid amounting to (21,150 US dollars).
On the other Hand, the Jordanian “Recycle” will receive the same amount of money in addition to a technical help dealing with post- production work at the National Center of French Cinematography. His director expressed his joy for this personal achievement “The “I am very honored to have received this award," said Al Massad”. The Cinema in Movement award was open to works from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Portuguese-speaking African countries and offered jointly by the San Sebastian, Freiburg, Amiens and Tarifa film festivals. The aim is to "produce unfinished films and act as an effective bridge between professionals, firms and institutions" in these countries, and those in Europe and Latin America.
Source: (Algeria)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Sensual, Touching and Sophisticated movie from Lebanon

Caramel (Original title Sukar Banat, 2007)

Director: Nadine Labaki
Script Writer: Rodney El Haddad, Jihad Hojeily, Nadine Labaki
Cast: Nadia Labaki (Layale), Yasmine Al masri (Nisrine), Joanna Moukarzel (Rima), Gisele Aouad (Jamale), Adel Karam (Youssef), Siham Haddad (Rose), Aziza Semaan (Lili), Fatme Safa (Siham),Dimitri Stancofski (Charles), Fadia Stella (Christine), Ismail Antar (Bassam).
Release Date: Premiered on March 20 during the 2007 Cannes Film Festival
Genre: Drama
Country: Lebanon
Time: 95 min
Music: Mouzanar
Movies' Official website:

About the Movie: In the title of Caramel, Labaki refers to an epilation method used in the Middle east and North Africa to wax the body, using heated sugar, water and lemon juice.

"Caramel is the first feature from director-cum-actor Nadine Labaki, is a film about the lives and loves of six Lebanese women. As the title suggests, it's a sweet-natured romantic comedy, one centered on a Beirut beauty parlor, the three twentysomething women who work there and three somewhat-older ladies who are part of their circle.

"After setting the ambiance of the salon itself, each character becomes the center of her own story, all related to matters of the heart. The main character, Layale (Labaki) is struggling through an affair with a married man. Nisrine (Yasmine al-Masri), the film's designated Muslim character, is happily (evidently chastely) engaged but, as you eventually learn, is also worried because she isn't a virgin. Indifferent to men, Rima (Joanna Moukarzel) is beginning to awaken to her fondness for women, thanks to a customer (played by Fatme Safa) whose name is kept from you.

"One of the salon's incessant clients, Jamale (Gisele Aouad) is a fretfully aging mother trying to launch a career in television. The seamstress who lives near the salon, Rose (Sihame Haddad), has chosen spinsterhood in order to take care of her batty older sister Lili (Aziza Semaan). Herself a piece of romantic wreckage, Lili once had a relationship with a French soldier during the Mandate era, but all his letters were kept from her, so she wanders around the quarter collecting bits of paper as if trying to recover them.

"Rounding out the cast is a trio of male caricatures, love interests for each of the six women. The only man who is allotted some screen time (if not depth exactly) is Youssef (Adel Karam), an awkward, mustachioed cop who is particularly attentive in enforcing the law around Layale. [...]" Source: Jim Quilty, 'Caramel' delves into Lebanon's matters of the heart, The Daily Star (Lebanon), August 9, 2007

About the Director: Nadine Labaki, born in 1974, a well-known Lebanese acress and director. To know more about her:

Nostalgic Ramadan serial about Egyptian expatriates in America

Hanan Wa Haneen (Tenderness and Compassion)

Director: Inas Bakr
Tv Channel: Orbit (Orbit Satellite Television and Radio Network,
Cast: Omar Sharif, Sawsan Badr, Ahmed Ramzi
Genre: Drama
About the TV Serie: Starring Hollywood legend, Omar Sharif; contemporary drama about an engineer who emigrates to the US to build a successful career after suffering a severe emotional breakdown in his home country. However, the nostalgia and love of his home country follows him until the end. The film was shot between Cairo, Alexandria and New York. Source:

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Cartoon for all Seasons

Freej (Neighbourhood)

Created by: Mohammed Saeed Harib
TV Channel: Dubai TV
Characters: Um Saloom, Um Khammas, Um Saeed, Um Allawi
About the cartoon: "Freej, the Middle East’s first 3D animated series is the brainchild of Mohammed Saeed Harib [...]. Freej is the tale of four old national women living in a secluded neighborhood in modern day Dubai. The show’s main characters; Um Saeed, Um Saloom, Um Allawi and Um Khammas try to live a peaceful life in the midst of the ever-expanding city around them, but the city’s boom unveils new social issues every day that they would have to tackle solve in their own simple way. For those four old women, there is no issue too hard to crack with a good cup of coffee at Um Saeed’s house. [...]" Source:
Official Website:

Monday, October 1, 2007

Egyptian Ramadan serie dealing with sexual abuse

Qadeyat Ra'i A'am (A case of public opinion)

Director: Mohamed Azizia
TV Channel: Dubai TV
Cast: Youssra (famous and beautiful Egyptian actress), Samir Sabri, Gamal Ismail, Sami El Adl
Genre: Drama
About the TV Serie: "Youssra plays Abla Abdel-Rahman, head of the pediatric department at Qasr Al Aini Hospital, the perfect wife and mother of two, who is kidnapped and raped while driving home with a fellow female physician and a pregnant nurse.

"The hospital from which they have set off is distant, they are late; and the three armed rapists find it relatively easy to accomplish their task. When the nightmare is over the women return to their lives - only to realise they have an even worse nightmare ahead of them: the very, very complicated task of how to deal with what happened.

"The storyline recounts how each goes about resolving the dilemma of whether to report the incident and take on the incumbent shame or to keep it a secret and suffer the psychological damage in isolation. But when the nurse loses her child and goes into a coma as a result, Abdel-Rahman decides to broach the issue.

"Bad move, apparently: her decision to report the incident to the police instantly stigmatises Abdel-Rahman, whose very husband - a fellow doctor who is happy to perform miscarriages illegally but won't accept the shame of his wife's body having been violated - can no longer live with her. Initially he gives her the choice of directing him back to where the rape took place or separating, but then he decides the sheer humiliation she has brought upon him and the children is unbearable." [...]
Source: Al Ahram Weekly Online, September 20-26, 2007

MBC cancelled a sensitive TV serie on "temporary marriage" after Kuwaiti ban

Lil Khataya Thaman (Sins have a Price)

Before the beginning of the month of Ramadan MBC announced Monday that it would "cancel a controversial TV series scheduled to air in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan after Kuwaiti authorities banned the program.The new series, 'Lil Khataya Thaman' or (Sins have a Price), is based on the sensitive issue of "temporary marriage" - a practice unique to Shiite Islam. [...]

"But MBC – the parent company of Al Arabiya News Channel – said the series did not contain any offensive content and did not mean to insult any religious sect. The company also said the series was attacked before it was screened. [...]

"Kuwaiti newspapers had earlier hinted at the upcoming ban, saying some Shiites viewed the series as a direct insult to their beliefs in the way it portrayed the issue of temporary marriage ('zawaaj al-mutaa'). But the show's producer, Nayef Al Rashed, said the series was simply misunderstood.'We discuss the way temporary marriage, permitted under the Jafaari [Shiite] sect, is misused, but we also present examples of people who use it in the right way', Rashed said.

"Al Rashed said he in no way meant to insult the Jafaari beliefs and insisted he would never raise issues that would trigger sectarian strife or social unrest. According to Al Rashed, Sins have a Price is a social drama that profiles the lives of men and women who misunderstand Islam, and tackles a variety of topical issues such as civil marriage, disobedience of parents, and other behaviors that he described as 'intrusions into Gulf society'. [...]"

See MBC Videos on the TV Serie in You Tube:

Source: , September 10, 2007

Popular MBC Ramadan TV series

Read the article "Ramadan: On the Small Screen" by Hussein Shobokshi
in Asharq Al Awsat newspaper.

Baini we Beinak (Between Us)

Director: Saed Al Huwari
TV Channel: MBC (Saudi-run comapny broadcasting, headquartered in the United Arab Emirates,
Cast: Rashed Al Shamrani, Fayez Malki and Hasan Aseeri
Genre: Comedy
About the TV serie: A Comedy series that tells the story of three men, each leading a different lifestyle. Mifreh, who lives in a small village, enjoys the normal and quiet life. Miz’al, on the other hand, lives a miserable life in the dessert. He lives in poverty and has to deal with his horrible wife. As for Tarek, he lives the life of the city. Source:

Tash Ma Tash 15

TV Channel: MBC
Cast: Nasser Al Qasabi, Abdullah Al Sadhan
Genre: Comedy
About the TV serie: Tash ma Tash is a satire comedy series [aired for 15 years] that covers various social matters in the Saudi community. In each episode, the two stars of the show, Abdullah Al Sadhan and Naser Al Qasabi, presents different characters facing different issues from the Saudi community. Source:

Bab El Hara (The Neighborhood’s Gate)

Director: Basam Al Mula
TV Channel: MBC
Cast: Abbas El Nouri, Mona Wassef
Genre: Drama
About the TV Serie: The events of this series take place in 1929 in a small neighborhood called Al Dabe’ located in the City of Al Sham in Syria. After a theft incident that takes place in the neighborhood, many dramatic incidents follow like murders, accusations and injust in that once peaceful village. Source:

Al Malik Farouq (King Farouq)

Director: Hatem Ali
TV Channel: MBC
Cast: Tim Hassan, Mineh Al Fadali, Izat Abu Aouf, Wafa’ Amer, Mahmoud Juneidi
Genre: History/ Drama
About the TV Serie: This series tells the story of the last king of Egypt (Farouq I) starting from the day he was born till his burial that took place in Egypt. Source: