Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cairo International Film Festival

"The 31st Cairo International Film Festival opend the 27th of November amid controversy, seeking to retake its place as the Arab world's international cinematic meeting point after years in the wilderness.

"Competing with Morocco's Marakesh film festival -- widely seen as more creative -- and that of Dubai -- more wealthy -- the CIFF will this year highlight British films, with 15 of them being screened.

"The opener is 'Death at a Funeral,' a black comedy by British director Frank Oz, creator of the Muppet Show, described as 'putting the F U in funeral' which has caused controversy because one of its characters is a gay priest.

"Egypt's outspoken Al-Badil daily attacked "so-called liberal newspapers who only see evil in everything (and) who have launched a pre-emptive attack on the festival's choice of 'Death at a Funeral'.

" 'As usual cinema pays the price of being stuck between the Islamists on the street and a regime that is bankrupt of civilisation,' Al-Badil said in an editorial on Tuesday, slamming Egyptian society's 'Achilles heel of religion.' [...]"

Source: AFP, November 27, 2007

Bloggers want to expose torture in Egypt through videos

Egyptian bloggers, often at the forefront of exposing human rights abuses, are planning an online festival of torture videos to run alongside the 31st Cairo Film Festival, from 27 November to 7 December.

"The parallel festival is the brainchild of a blogger named Walid, The Egyptian Mail said, and will feature 'controversial acts of torture allegedly committed by the security authorities.'
"Prizes, including a 'Golden Whip,' will be awarded to the 'best' entrants.

"Egypt's blogosphere has exposed numerous incidents of police torture, including that of minibus driver Imad al-Kabir, who was shown being sodomized with a stick in a widely distributed video shot on a mobile phone. Rights groups say torture is widespread in Egyptian jails, while the Interior Ministry says torturers are punished."

Source: AFP, November 24, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Palestinian Movie on Honour Killings

"A new documentary called Maria's Grotto which premiered in Ramallah on Friday explores the issue of honor killings through the heart-breaking stories of four Palestinian women.

"Directed by Palestinian director Buthina Canaan Khoury, the 53-minute documentary is the result of two years of groundwork and filming, Reuters News Agency reported. The film begins in Maria's Grotto, the film's namesake, which is said to be the burial place of a girl called Maria, who lived in a village 20 kilometers east of Ramallah in the 1930s.

"According to a village elder, Maria's family suspected that she had an illicit affair. After they killed her in the Grotto, they examined her and found out she was virgin. 'Maria was innocent,' the old lady recounts.

"The second story is the more recent tragedy of Hayam, a 35-year-old woman who got pregnant with a Christian man from a neighboring village. When her family discovered her pregnancy in her eighth month, they forced her to take poison.

"Khoury tried in vain to get the girl's family to speak on film. But local police officers said they had to detain the Hayam's boyfriend to protect him after Hayam's family reportedly burnt down houses and a factory belonging to the man's family. Among the people interviewed, is an old woman who supports honor killing: 'Disgrace is not a simple thing. Honor is the next precious value after land,' she said.

"The movie also tells the story of a girl who miraculously survived after being stabbed seven times by her brother: 'He didn't ask me anything…he just tried to kill me,' she recalled. The brother, whose face was blurred on screen like his sister's, said he regretted his crime, but explained the social pressure he faced: 'I was devastated by people's words and looks. Everybody was asking, 'Why don't you kill her? Aren't you a man?' I wished she could have escaped while I was trying to kill her.' Although the brother turned himself in, three quarters of the police officers lauded his act as 'honorable,' the film shows.

"The Palestinian Minister of Women's Affairs Khouloud Daibes said in a press conference that honor killings are on the rise in Palestinian territories. Human rights groups said 20 to 50 women have been killed for honor reasons since the beginning of 2007 and that culprits usually get away with light sentences. [...]"

Source: Al Arabiya ( Saudi-owned, Dubai-based), November 25, 2007

Yemenis shocked by public porn display

"Porn scenes shown by mistake on a public commercial screen in downtown Sanaa has caused a stir in Yemeni society and prompted parliament to launch an official investigation, press reports said Monday.

"On Sunday, hundreds of Yemenis watched in disbelief as porn scenes played in a busy square in the center of the capital. It took a while for the company in charge to set things right, the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported.

"After receiving scores of phone calls from angry citizens, the police contacted the screen owner, Yemeni Economic Corporation, which, in turn, stopped the show and said it was the result of a technical glitch. [...]"

Source: AlArabiya (Saudi-owned, Dubai-based), November 26, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Egyptian comedian back on "indecency" blacklist

"An Islamist electronic movement placed Egyptian superstar actor Adel Emam on a blacklist of people who promote 'indecency and nudity,' citing his steadfast opposition to political Islam.

"A spokesman for Hamasna (Our Enthusiasm), which also calls itself 'The Electronic Resistance Movement,' said that Emam, 67, was back on its blacklist one year after he was removed, as a result of his family ties to a Muslim Brotherhood leader.

"The daughter of Emam – one of the most popular comedians in Egypt and the Arab world – recently married the son of prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader Nabil Moqbel.

"The marriage stirred controversy in Egyptian society because Emam, a master of political satire who often targets religious conservatives in his movies, is known for his stance against Islamists.

"One of his 100-plus movies -- Al-Erhab we Al-Kabab (Terrorism and The Kebab) from 1993 – takes direct aim at Islamist groups and terrorists.

"Hamasna's leader, Mohamed Al-Sayed, said many expected the actor's attitude to change after the marriage: 'We were hoping he would stop mocking religious symbols in his works and start using his capabilities as an actor in works that aim to serve society.' [...]

"What made things worse was Emam's visit to Coptic Pope Shenouda III to seek permission to play a priest in his new movie.

"'We didn't see him consulting Al-Azhar before making all those movies that mocked Islam,' Al-Sayed said.

"The movement has also created a "white list" of artists it deems as "respectable". It includes Saudi singer Mohamed Abdou, Egyptian singer Amr Diab, and veiled Egyptian actresses Hanan Turk and Hala Shiha. "

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

Tecom authority introduces Gulf Film Festival and competition

The Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority (TECOM) today announced a new initiative, the Gulf Film Festival (GFF), in association with Dubai Studio City. The GFF will be dedicated to the best in cinema from the Gulf countries (the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Kingdom of Bahrain, Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, Republic of Iraq and Republic of Yemen) along with select international films. The first annual edition of the festival will run from April 9 to 15, 2008.

Source: Maktoob (UAE), November 12, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Week of the Indian Film kicked off in Tunis

The National Cultural Committee organized in collaboration with the embassy of India in Tunisia, the week of the Indian film, which was held from the 12th to the 18th of November at the House of Culture Ibn Rachiq in the capital, Tunis.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Magazine's Special Issue Celebrates Saudi Cinema

"In a pioneering move, the quarterly Saudi cultural magazine, ‘Qawafil’ is celebrating Saudi film-making with an entire issue dedicated to the fledgling industry, which will also include a free DVD featuring the best of Saudi film. [...]

"In the issue, a number of articles on cinema and a filmography of Saudi films starting with 1976's Abdullah al Mohsin’s docufilm entitled ‘Assassination of a City’ [Ightiyal Medina] and ending with films released over the past summer.

"Saudi film critic Khalid Rabia al Sayed talks about the blossoming Saudi film industry, and also reviewed a number of movies particularly those that were featured in the last Jeddah Festival of Visual Art.

"In another article, Abdullah al Eyaf, who won the Special Jury Award for his film ‘A Frame’ [Idar], talked about his experience regarding directing especially during his first docufilm ‘Cinema 500km’.

"The issue also carries an interview with female Saudi film director Hayfaa al Mansour who was, as usual, frank in expressing her opinions. She believed that her experiences as well as those of Saudi cinema were still weak as there is the lack of a cinema culture and origin. She also embraced Western acceptance of her work saying, 'They (some intellectuals) are now granting awards for movies that look at the humanitarian crimes taking place in Iraq and elsewhere. In my opinion, to perceive the West as an enemy is overloaded with inferiority complexes and self-doubt.'

"In another interview, young Saudis expressed their aspirations towards this new phenomenon and their hopes in developing and establishing a film industry [in Saudi] in the future.

"The free DVD that accompanied the issue included the following films: ‘Difficult Way’ [Tariq Saaba] by Samir Aref, ‘Rebellion’ [Tammarrad] by Abdul Aziz al Najam, ‘Girl of Heaven’ [Tiflat al Samaa] by Ali al Amir, ‘Just a Day’ [Mujarid Yowm] by Nawaf Muhanna and ‘Democracy’ by Meshal al Anzi.

"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.

"Earlier this year, the first ever Saudi Arabia horror film ‘The Forgotten Village’ [Qariyat al Mansiya] was released in Egypt."
Source: Asharq Al Awsat (Saudi Arabia, based in London), November 19, 2007

Terror decade in Algeria thwarted movie creation

The Algerian movie critic and head of Geneva Arab Film Festival, Belghoul Benaouda was present at "Taghit d'or" Film Festival along with several movie critics and experts who have been invited to take part to this important cultural event. As one of numerous Algerian authors and artists living overseas, M Benaouda gave a brief interview to "Echorouk" reporter in which he talked thoroughly about today's movie industry.

Q: What is, in your opinion, asked from the new generation of movie lovers?

A: The black decade stopped the young creator's impetus in this field, but now, the emerging talents have to think anew and develop new ideas in the audiovisual field. We are living a new era controlled by the image. Europe, for instance is using picture as a weapon in cinema and TV to control the masses, the time has come for the gifted new generation to set aside the traditional vision of movie- making, they have to adapt their art to the modern standards, by and large, portray their living conditions realistically.
Source: Echorouk (Algeria), November 16, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

European Film Festival in Morocco

Since Thursday, the Moroccan northern city of Tangier is vibrating at the pace of European films as part of the 17 th film week ending on November 25 following the screening in five Moroccan cities of prize-winning films or films screened in highly renown film festivals.

Algerian short film festival the “Taghit d’or"

Algeria launched its first short film festival the “Taghit d’or”from 11-17 November. Some 30 movie makers as well as several guests pertaining to the world of culture and media took part to the first cultural event of its kind in Algeria.

Several movie screenings were slated for this occasion in various parts of the town, in addition to the organization of seminars aiming at promoting local artifacts. The “ Taghit d’or” short film festival stems from the other major Algerian film festival, “the Fenec d’or” which aims at boosting young gifted artists and give them the opportunity to shed light on their creations as well as exchanging their experiences in this field. The event coincided with the opening of the tourist season in this desert region.

Source: Echourouk (Algeria), November 5, 2007

Indian movies to be special attraction in 4th Dubai Film Festival

The fourth edition of Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), running from December 9 to 16, starts with the unveiling of 'A Celebration of Indian Cinema', a separate segment for the first time.

"This year, DIFF has created a separate programme for Indian cinema as it is a country with a vast supply of thriving and creative regional films. Its geographic size is an indication of the diversity of the films it produces year round," Festival Artistic Director Masoud Amralla Al Ali said.

Dubai International Film Festival

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) announced the conclusion of its successful ‘OneMinutesJr’ video production workshop for youth in Mumbai, with plans for future sessions in Dubai and Cairo, in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Participants at the 5-day workshops received guidance in camera skills, shot and sound choices, story development and basic editing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Anti-Iranian government movie applauded in Tunisia

The animated movie Persepolis based on the graphic novel Persepolis by Iranian author and cartoonist Marjane Satrapi was appluaded by Tunisians during the 14th European Cinema Festival.
Persepolis is the story of Marjane Satrapi's "own experiences as a rebellious young girl growing up in 1970s and 1980s Iran before being sent off 'into safety' in Europe. In her life, the growing pains of a free-spirited young girl happen to occur alongside the fall of the Shah’s rule and the Islamic Revolution. With its perfect blend of the personal and the political, Persepolis tells the parallel stories of a girl and a country trying to grow up and find out what’s right for them, though both are often taken hostage by foreign impulses".
Sources: La Presse (Tunisia), November 13, 2007

Cinema ban sparks debate in Saudi Council

"The Saudi Shura (Consultative) Council briefly debated the absence of movie theaters in the kingdom, with some members saying cinemas are inappropriate in the land of the Holy Shrines and others calling for a religiously acceptable 'way out'.

"The debate started when the Council's Culture and Media Committee presented a draft law on a memorandum of understanding between the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information and the Russian Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography, the Saudi edition of Al-Hayat reported on Tuesday.

"Council Member Azeb Al-Mesbel argued that the spiritual nature of the country that hosts the two Holy Shrines (in Mecca and Medina) should be taken into consideration when dealing with matters of art and culture.Whereas Member Ahmed al-Turki stressed the necessity to benefit from Russia's experience in cinema arts. He called on religious scholars to find a way to allow movie theaters without contradicting the principles of Islam. [...]

"Regular theatres are not allowed in Saudi Arabia because movies are considered incompatible with the teachings of Islam, as they promote the mingling of sexes and show examples of immoral behavior."

Source: Al Arabiya (Saudi-owned, Dubai-based), November 13, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Post Modern Arts Festival in Tunis

The Medina of Tunis hosted the first edition of the Post Modern Arts Festival, dubbed "Dream City", which took place on November 8, 9 and 10.

"Dream City" is an ambitious project devoted to Post Modern artistic creations, thus allowing young Tunisian artists to present works reflecting on the city of Tunis.

Thus, 26 multidisciplinary artists took part to this event which features several artistic fields such as plastic arts, choreography, music and video projections.


Tunisia Experimantal Cinema Festival

The first meeting on experimental cinema has taken place in Sousse from 2nd to 7th November on the initiative of Youssef Bahri, artistic director in charge of the conference on experimentation in the arts, of Mohamed El Ameur, cultural delegate to general coordination within the regional commissary of the Lofti Ben Salah township.

The Festival has shown movies on chaos in the world and on alienation of young generations.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Tunis Celebrates European Cinema

"The 14th edition of the Days of the European Cinema in Tunis will be held this year from the 8th to the 22nd of November in several places in the Tunisian capital.

"Organized by the delegation of the European Commission and the embassies of the Member States of the EU in Tunisia, in collaboration with the Ministry of the Culture and the Safeguard of the Tunisian Heritage, the Days of the European Cinema in Tunis have become an important rendezvous attended by a high number of film enthusiasts in the Maghreb.

"The edition 2007 was described as “Euro Tunisian” because of the great number of Tunisian films taking part in the festival to be projected along with European movies. [...]"

Source: Al Arab online

"Billionaire fights Egyptian conservatism with TV"

"Egyptian billionaire and telecoms tycoon Naguib Sawiris plans to launch new television channels to counter what he describes as increasing social and inreligious conservatism the Arab Muslim country. Sawiris, a Coptic Christian with a $10 billion fortune according to Forbes magazine, said he would launch a movie channel early in 2008 followed by an all-news station. He already owns OTV, a 24-hour entertainment channel.

"Speaking at a dinner for journalists late on Monday, Sawiris said he was disturbed by the rising number of women wearing the Islamic headscarf. 'I am not against the headscarf because then I would be against personal freedoms,' he said. 'But when I walk in the street now I feel like I am in Iran... I feel like a stranger.' [...]

"The Egyptian billionaire, who owns a stake in Egypt's popular daily newspaper Al Masry Al Youm, launched a scathing attack on the Brotherhood, which insists that non-Muslims and women are ineligible to run for the country's presidency. 'To hell with them,' he said. 'Not a single Christian is waiting for their permission. God is just. God does not discriminate between people.'

"Sawiris, chairman of Orascom Telecom, the fourth largest Arab mobile phone operator by market value, is not known to have any political ambitions and has rarely expressed his political opinions in public. Independent media have challenged the dominance of state-run Egyptian press and television, which for decades has dictated what the public could read, watch or listen to. Privately-owned newspapers have pushed the boundaries in political reporting, attacking President Hosni Mubarak and his family. Private television, however, does not enjoy the same liberties."

Source: Reuters, November 7, 2007

On Air the documentary on Saudi King Abdullah

On November 1st, Al Arabiya launched the five part documentary " Abdullah", the fist production of its kind.

For more informations see the following post:

A movie on Palestinians escaping from Iraq

The dupes (1972, Al Makhdu'un)

Director: Tewifik Saleh
Script Writer: Ghassan Kanafani, Tewfik Saleh
Cast: Mohamed Khei-Halouani, Abderrahman Alray, Bassan Lofti, Abou Ghazala, Saleh Kholoki, Thanaa Debsi
Genre: Drama
Release Year: 1972
Country: Syria
Time: 107 min

Abou the movie: Three Palestinian men from three different generations attempt to escape their impoverished lives in Iraq by crossing the desert to Kuwait, where the promise of work and freedom awaits them. A truck driver agrees to smuggle them across the border in this film about dispossession, despair and scraps of hope. Source:

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Algeria launches its first short film festival

Algeria will launch its first short film festival the “Taghit d’or”on Monday

Preparations for the first edition of the short film festival « Taghit d’or » (Golden Taghit) due to take place in the Bechar (southern Algeria) from 11-17 November are well underway according to the organizers.
Some 30 movie makers as well as several guests pertaining to the world of culture and media will take part to the first cultural event of its kind in Algeria, the same source added. Several movie screenings are slated for this occasion in various parts of the town, in addition to the organization of seminars aiming at promoting local artifacts.
The “ Taghit d’or” short film festival stems from the other major Algerian film festival, “the Fenec d’or” which aims at boosting young gifted artists and give them the opportunity to shed light on their creations as well as exchanging their experiences in this field. The event will coincide with the opening of the tourist season in this desert region, which will lift people’s spirit and push them to shift their interest in this event.

Source: Echorouk (Algeria), November 5, 2007

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Movie on the Algerian War of Independence

Living in Paradise (1998, Al Aish Fil Jannah)

Director: Bourlem Guerdjou (Algeria)
Script Writer: Boulem Guerdjou, Olivier Lorelle, Olivier Douy
Cast: Roschdy Zem, Fadila Belkebla, Omar Bekhaled, Farida Rahouadj, Hiam Abbass
Release Year: 1998
Genre: Social
Country: France/Norway/Belgium
Time: 105 min

About the Movie: Set in France in 1961-1962, during the Algerian War, Living In Paradise is the story of Lakhdar (Roschdy Zem), an immigrant construction worker living in the Nanterre shantytown of France.

Unhappy living alone in France, he brings his wife and children from Southern Algeria to be with him, but the family struggles to make ends meet. In this clip Hiam Abbas plays an Algerian nationalist struggling to stir her compatriots into action.

Here she succeeds, gathering many of the residents of the shantytown to participate in a demonstration in support of Algerian independence and the National Liberation Front (FLN). Lakhdar is reluctant to participate, but he eventually goes along and is beaten when French riot police try to break up the demonstration by force. Though fictional, the film underlies the important role played by the large immigrant community in France during the independence movement, as well as the role of women in the movement. Source:

About the Director: Bourlem Guerdjou studied at the Florent drama school in 1982-­1983, and won a directing award from the Fondation de la Vocation. He has also acted in various films, plays and made-for-TV movies. He directed three short films, including the award-winning "Ring" (1996), plus two documentaries. "Living in Paradise" is his first feature film. Source:

1st of November: Anniversary of the Start of the Algerian Revolution against Colonialism in 1954

Chronicle of the Years of Embers (1975, Waqai Sanawat Al-Djamr)
Winner of Palme d’Or – Cannes 1975

Director: Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina (Algeria)
Script Writer: Rachid Boujedra, Tewfik Fares and others
Cast: Yorgo Voyagis, Mohammed, Lakhdar-Hamina, Leila Shenna, Cheikh Nourredine, François Maistre
Release Date: 26 November 1975 (France)
Genre: Drama
Country: Algeria
Time: 175 min

About the Movie: Chronicle of the Year of Embers portrays Algeria's struggle for Independence from French colonial rule. The story follows a peasant's migration from his drought-stricken village to his eventual participation with the Algerian resistance movement, just prior to the outbreak of the Algerian War of Independence. Source:

About the Director: Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina is an Algerian director and actor.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A Movie on Music as a tool against bigotry and violence

100% Arabica (1997)

Director: Mahmoud Zemmouri (Algeria)
Script Writer: Marie Laurence Attias, Mahmoud Zemmouri
Cast: Cheb Khaled, Cheb Mami
Release Date: 5 November 1997 (France)
Genre: Musical Comedy
Country: France/Belgium/Switzerland
Time: 85 min

About the Movie: "In this light-hearted musical comedy with a message, a North African pop group called Rap Oriental uses music to triumph over the bigotry and violence in their housing project on the outskirts of Paris. The band and their devoted fans are pitted against religiously conservative elders who want to stop the music. The film features Khaled and Cheb Mami, two real-life stars of Rai music - a combination of North African sounds and western-style rap. The pair offers a message with a beat as they rock, groove, and ultimately soothe their 'hood with their unique sound." Source: African Diaspora Fil Festival

About the Director:
Mahmoud Zemmouri is a well-known Algerian movie Director, living in France.

A Tunisian Movie on poverty and violence

Tender is the worlf (2006, Ors El Dhab)

Jilani Saadi
Script Writer: Jilani Saadi
Cast: Abdelmoumen Chouiette, Anissa Daoud, Atef Ben Hessin, Habib Ben Mbarek, Mohamed Graya
Release Year: 2006
Genre: Drama
Country: Tunisia
Time: 83 min

About the Movie:
"[...] Tender Is the Wolf is a sensitive but bleak drama which shows the tumultuous consequences of a crime committed by the group of outcasts a Tunisian man hangs out with. Unemployed and directionless, the gentle, lumbering Stoufa (Mohamed Hassine Graya) meets up with his three pals on a corner one cold winter night in Tunis to drink and hang out. It is there that they encounter Salousa, a willful, talkative young prostitute they know. Conversation leads to confrontation, and the friends impulsively gang rape the woman as she hopelessly tries to stop the assault. The next day the woman enlists her thuggish brother to track down her attackers and deal with them. Stoufa, though not having participated, is nonetheless violently beaten. Yet, with something still troubling him, he meets with the woman and a tentative, unusual relationship develops between them. This dark, unsettling urban drama [...] explore a cold urban world of poverty and violence. Source:

About the Director:
Jilani Saadi was born in Bizerte, Tunisia in 1962. After film studies in Paris, he made his first short film in 1994 and then a medium length film, Café-Hôtel de l’Avenir, in 1997, and the feature films Khorma, le Crieur de Nouvelles in 2003 and Ors El Dhib in 2006.