Friday, January 4, 2008

Arab-American actor: Arab community should invested in its cinema to counter Arab stereotypes

"Tony Shaloub, actor and producer of hit US show Monk, [...] said it was vital that the Arab community invested in its cinema to counter Arab stereotypes in the West and presented its own stories.

"He was speaking ahead of the screening of AmericanEast, a film about Arab-Americans living in post 9/11 Los Angeles which made its Middle East premiere last night. 'There is a drought of Arab-American films,' said Shaloub. 'So many times Arab-Americans are stereotyped. We need to get some of these stories told.'

"Rather than waiting for Hollywood to make those films, he believes that the Arab and Arab-American community should begin making those movies. It was this belief that apparently pushed AmericanEast to be made. [...]"

Source: Khaleej Times (UAE), December 11, 2007

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

2007 Ten Moroccan Blockbuster Movies

  1. Les Anges de Satan (Satan's Angels), by Ahmed Boulane
  2. Nancy et le monstre (Nancy and the monster), by Mohamed Frites
  3. Parfum de mer (The Perfume of the Sea), by Abdelhai Laraki
  4. Moroccan dream, by Jamal Belmejdoud
  5. Abdou chez les Almohades (Abdou at the Ablouhades'), by Said Naciri
  6. Wake up Morocco, by Narjiss Nejjar
  7. WWW What a wonderful world, by Faouzi Bensaidi
  8. L'enfant endormi (The sleepy child), by Yasmine Kessari
  9. La Simphonie marocaine (The Moroccan Symphony), by Kamal Kamal
  10. Real Premonition, by Ahmed Ziad

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Baghdad International Film Festival

"French short film 'La Danse, l'art de la rencontre' (Dance and the Art of Encounters) won first prize at the four-day Baghdad international film festival which ended on Saturday. Domenica Hervieu's documentary, a poetic exploration of the world of dance, was followed by 'Abu Ghraib and Kilo 160', a documentary by Iraqi director M. Nafs, the president of the jury Akil Mahdi announced. The film by Nafs tells the tragic story of Iraq's 14-member taekwondo team who were kidnapped and slaughtered in the western Anbar province in 2006 as they returned from a competition in Jordan. The bodies of 13 of the team were found earlier this year

"In third place was 'Palm Whisper' by Egyptian director Shireen Shaith. Nafs was the only winner present at the awards ceremony, which was held under tight security. The festival, held at Baghdad's Palestine Hotel, screened 63 films from around the world. [...]

"The Iraqi film industry dates back to the 1940s and was at its most popular in the 1970s and 1980s, when going to the cinema became a weekly family outing.However the 1991 Gulf war and the economic sanctions that followed saw cinemas go into decline. The turmoil that followed the 2003 invasion saw many cinemas burned down."

Source: AFP, December 29, 2007

"Chaos" and "Lola": two striking movies presented at the Dubai International Film Festival

"Some of the most interesting features at the 2007 Dubai International Film Festival were noncompetition films. Among them were two movies, 'Heya Fawda' ('Chaos') and 'Whatever Lola Wants,' that are striking for their similarities and contrasts. The differences between the two films are obvious, not least the filmmakers themselves. With an output of over 40 films, 81-year-old Youssef Chahine, co-director of "Chaos," is an icon in his native Egypt and lauded worldwide.

"Nabil Ayouch, the 39-year-old writer and director of 'Lola,' is one of the rising stars of Moroccan cinema, whose two-feature portfolio - 1997's "Mektoub" and 2000's 'Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets' - are festival and art-house favorites.

" 'Chaos' and 'Lola' do have superficial similarities. Each has been deliberately set in Cairo and ambivalently received in the directors' countries of origin.

" 'Chaos' screened in Dubai, along with Chahine's 1958 classic film 'Bab al-Hadid' ("Cairo Station"), as part of the run-up to his receiving the Dubai festival's lifetime achievement award. The film's Egyptian cinematic release corresponded with the Cairo International Film Festival earlier in the month but 'Chaos' snubbed the event, screening his film a week later at the film festival in Marrakesh.

" 'Lola' did screen late at the Marrakech Film Festival, but it received its world premiere in Dubai (Marrakech's 'competition'), where - as the centerpiece of the festival's Arabian Nights program - it was given a gala screening. [...]

"A story of corruption and unrequited love, 'Chaos' has been feted in Cairo as Youssef Chahine's "return to Egypt" - that is, after helming a series of high-profile autobiographical films, this one once again takes Egyptian society as its subject. [...]

" 'Lola' is about as formulaic a romantic comedy as you'd find anywhere. Many of Ayouch's fans and supporters at the Dubai festival were bewildered that, after seven years in the relative anonymity of Moroccan television and film production, this gifted artist's return to the helm should produce, well, a Hollywood-style movie. [...]

Source: Daily Star (Lebanon), December 29, 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lollywood: The Pakistani Hollywood

Lollywood is the name given to the Pakistani film industry, which is based in the city of Lahore. Watch hereby a Lollywood's video:

Pakistani Movies

"[...] In the 70s and early 80s, the [Pakistani movie] industry boasted eleven studios that produced over a hundred films annually. But in the face of stiff competition via the recent spread of cable television and the influx of pirated Bollywood videos, Lollywood's annual output has dropped to forty films -- produced by a single studio. ( [...]"

A look at Pakistan Film Industry

"Pakistan's film industry is often described as hapless. Dubbed 'Lollywood' for its base in the city of Lahore, it doesn't compare with the thriving art, literature, and music scene of this cultural hot spot in the heart of Punjab Province. Funds are short, and movies are painfully formulaic. In fact, if film reflects a culture, then to outside observers Pakistan's collective psyche would seem to be fixated on love songs, dancing, and fistfights where good always defeats evil: something of a simplistic society. But in a country where poverty, illiteracy, religious fundamentalism, and population growth are all serious issues, the movie image circumvents reality. Films remain strictly escapist and stick to fun, frolic, true love, and heroism. [...]"

Source: National Geographic

Monday, December 24, 2007

Il était une fois dans l'Oued: A French-Algerian Comedy on Identity

Il était une fois dans l'Oued (Once upon a time in the Oued)

Director: Djamel Bensalah
Script Writer: Djamel Bensalah and Abdelkrim Brahmi
Cast: Julien Courbey, Sid Ahmed Agoumi, David Saracino, Karina Testa, Marilou Berry, Amina Annabi, Medy Kerouani
Release Year: 2005
Genre: Comedy
Country: Algeria-France
Time: 93 min

About the Movie: "Once Upon a Time in the Oued shows the affectionately comic side of being the French-born child of tradition-bound Algerian and Moroccan immigrants to France, ca. 1988. Narrated by a scrawny, blond-haired Christian [..] [youngster] who desperately wishes he was a Muslim [Algerian] [...].
"When handsome Yacine (David Saracino) reluctantly accompanies his family to Algeria for the summer, his irrepressible pal, Johnny Leclerc (Julien Courbey), stows away [illegally] on the ferry. On board, the two lads meet serious looker Nadia (Karina Testa) and her zaftig friend Nadege (Marilou Berry).

"[...] Humor revolves around Yacine studiously avoiding an arranged marriage; his little brother being sneak-circumcised at age 9; [...] Arab-o-centric narrative also takes pains to include a thoughtful, if brief, nod to the inherent idiocy of anti-Semitism. [...]" Source: Variaty

About the Movie Director: Djamel Bensalah is a well-known French Movie Director of Algerian origins.

Beur Blanc Rouge: A movie on Second generation Immigrants in Europe

Beur Blanc Rouge

Director: Mahmoud Zemmouri
Script Writer: Mahmoud Zemmouri
Cast: Yasmine Belmadi, Karim Belkhadra, Julien Courbey. Fatima Hellilou, Abdallag Bouzida, Chafia Boudraa, Aymen Saidi, Sabrina Maache, Biyouna, Mouss, Yacine Mesbah, Annie Savarin, Kamel Bouakkaz, Rabah Loucif
Release Year: 2006
Genre: Comedy
Country: France-Algeria
Time: 1h 28min

About the Movie: "[Beur Blanc Rouge] is a comedy about young Algerians in France. The main character is handsome, unemployed Ibrahim. He is living in anticipation of the soccer match between Algeria and France. Of course, he's rooting for Algeria, but he's never been there and he doesn't speak Arabic.
"One of the funniest scenes is his insistence on singing the Algerian national anthem at the stands before the match even though he doesn't know all the words. But when Ibrahim is stopped by a policeman because he's flying three Algerian flags on his car, he shouts back that he's French.
"He also re-discovers his Frenchness when he attempts to enter Algeria with his French passport with no visa. The film deals with Ibrahim's dual identity lightly, as befits a comedy. Ibrahim is apolitical (he refuses to go the mosque where he could get free tickets to the soccer match and free jerseys donated by Zem Zem Cola), lost, and stuck without any prospects.
"To convince him to go to Algeria, his mother yells at him at some point: 'your name is Ibrahim and you have this face and you think you will get anywhere in France?' [...]" Source:

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

Official Movie Web Site:

Read about other Movies by Mahmoud Zemmouri:
100% Arabica

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Marock: A Moroccan Movie against Obscurantism


Director: Laila Marrakchi
Script Writer: Laila Marrakchi
Cast: Morjana Alaoui, Matthieu Boujenah, Razika Simozrag, Assad Bouad, Fatim Layachi, Rachid Benhaissan, Khalid Maadur, Michael Souda
Release Year: 2005
Genre: Drama/Romance
Country: Morocco
Time: 100 min

About the Movie: "[...] The movie "Marock" - a word play on Maroc (French for Morocco ) and rock music - by young film director Leila Marrakshi. The movie brings to light the division within Moroccan society - which is in a way reflected in the wider Arab and Muslim worlds - between modernism and obscurantism, between liberals and Islamists, and between pluralism of religion and the prevention of it. The plot of 'Marock' publicly breaks many of Moroccan society's taboos. Rita, the protagonist, is a 17-year-old girl who has just finished high school. She wants to enjoy the summer with her friends, hanging around in the city of Casablanca, drinking alcohol - like many Moroccans do, as wine is available in many supermarkets - and looking for guys. She has all the dreams and frustrations of any normal teenager. [...]" Source: Daily Star (Lebanon), by Anna Mahjar-Barducci, October 17, 2006

About the Director: Born in Casablanca in 1975. She has received international accolades for her short films that focus on a wide variety of aspects of Moroccan life. In her feature film debut, ‘Marock’, she reflects upon memories of her own schooldays at the end of the 1990’s. Previously produced ‘L’Horizon perdu’ (2000), ‘Deux cents dirhams’ (2002), ‘Momo Mambo’ (2003). Source:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Egyptian actress opens café for women off-limits to unveiled and Christian females

"An Egyptian veiled actress has stirred waves of anger, especially among Egyptian Copts, after opening a posh café for women that is off-limits to unveiled and Christian females.

"Several Egyptian Internet forums and chat rooms have launched a campaign against the actress Hanan Turk, accusing her of damaging the country’s national unity and supporting claims of maltreatment to the Christian minority, according to Kuwaiti daily al-Nihar Tuesday December 18. Some blogs are calling for stand-in protests in front of the 'Girls’ Café' located at the Helioples neighborhood, east of the Egyptian Capital. Anti-hijab websites and blogs also took the chance to assert their claim 'the so-called Islamic dress code for women is a sort of business'.

"One of the blogs accused Turk outright of stirring a sectarian strife and emphasizing the gap among the poor and rich in the biggest Arab country, in a reference to the skyrocketing prices of the clothes and accessories of veiled women. Turk has campaigned for her café with an e-mail sent out to mail groups in Egypt, a copy of which was received by an Egyptian journalist with the daily Rozalyoussef. The e-mail goes: “Now there is a café where Muslim girls and women can go out to. Girls’ Café is a beautiful place where you can find food, drinks but no music or movies. It is not allowed for women without hijab to come in, so it is a safe place for 'munaqqabat' (Arabic word for completely covered women). In Girls Café, you have a chance to meet Hanan Turk! Please, do not bring Christian girls along as they are not allowed!' [...]".

Source: Al Arabiya (Saudi-owned, Dubai-based), December 18, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A new Moroccan cinema built on broken taboos

"There are still plenty of taboos in Arab societies and most of them have to do with women. [...]

"The strength of Latif Lahlou's latest film, 'Samira fi Dayaa (Samira's Garden),' lies in the manner with which the veteran director, who also co-wrote the screenplay, takes one obvious taboo and coils another one inside of it. The film breaks the first one quite easily, and acknowledges that it was already critically cracked long ago. But once those pieces fall open, viewers are left with a second taboo - a man's refusal to deal with the fact that his own sexual agency has failed him - that proves more difficult to dismantle.

" Samira's Garden screened at the Marrakesh International Film Festival on Sunday and is the only Moroccan movie being fielded in the competition. (It already scooped a critics' guild prize at this year's Films of the World Festival in Montreal, along with two acting awards at the Moroccan National Film Festival in Tangier two months ago). To hang the weight of a country's burgeoning cinema scene on a film about impotency would seem a daring move, but fortuitously Lahlou's is a daring film. [...]"

Source: Daily Star (Lebanon), December 14, 2007