April 2017, arsenal cinema

8. ALFILM – Arab Film Festival Berlin

BEZNESS AS USUAL, 2016

ALFILM is presenting artistically demanding cinema from the Arab world between 31st March and 7th April, with feature and documentary films that depict new perspectives on societal challenges but also pose questions with regard to identity and personal fulfillment. There will also be a retrospective of the works and artistic influences of the Egyptian director and artist Shadi Abdel Salam (1930–1986).

The festival will open with RABIH (Tramontane, Vatche Boulghourjian, Lebanon/F/Qatar/UAE 2016, 31.3., guests: Vatche Boulghourjian & composer Cynthia Zaven) Rabih is a blind and talented musician and singer who lives in a village in Lebanon. When his chorus is invited to perform abroad, he applies for a passport. He finds out that his papers are false and his identity is not what his family had led him to believe. He travels across the country to find out more about his background, but instead of finding answers he encounters more mysteries. His search takes him to the peripheries of Lebanon, to the ghosts of the past. The more he delves into the abyss of his existence, the darker the stories of the people become until finally it seems as if Rabih is the only one who can look truth in the face.

ZAINEB HATES THE SNOW (Kaouther Ben Hania, Tunisia/France/Qatar/Lebanon/UAE 2016, 1.4.) The nine-year-old Zaineb has lost her father. As if that were not enough, her mother Wided has decided to remarry and move both children from Tunisia to Canada. This would allow Zaineb to see snow at last! But she decides that she hates snow. She is not enamored of her step-father Maher. His precocious daughter Wijdene goes to every effort to convince Zaineb that her new homeland is attractive, but is then not so willing to share her room. This light-footed long-term documentary about a very normal patchwork family observes its stubborn protagonist as she enters adulthood. It is at once a sensitive and modern tale of home and belonging.

THE LAST OF US (Ala Eddine Slim, Tunisia/Qatar/UAE 2016, 1.4.) A nameless African refugee is crossing the desert, going north. He is attacked and finds himself alone in Tunisia again, getting lost amid the masses of people and the industrial peripheries. He tries to get to Europe in a stolen boat. He gets stranded in a strange place where he is completely dependent on himself. In order to survive, he has to develop a new relationship to nature, to physical and psychological boundaries and most of all to himself. Slim's debut feature-length film about the surreal odyssey of a refugee ties in with his earlier works, including his award-winning documentary "Babylon"(2012).

THE BEACH HOUSE (Roy Dib, Lebanon 2016, 1.4., guest: Sandy Chamoun) One evening, four friends and plenty of intrigue: Every week, the enigmatic Rayya invites a selection of guests to a private concert at her family's house by the sea. One evening, Youssef and Rawad, two old university friends whom she hasn't seen for years attend a performance. She invites them both to dinner while her sister Laila introduces a sophisticated game. During the evening, the players' masks come off and their ideological, emotional and intellectual securities are called into question.

AYNY, MY SECOND EYE (Ahmad Saleh, Germany 2016, 2.4.)This stop motion animated film by the Palestinian director Ahmad Saleh was awarded the student Oscar. It tells the tale of two brothers who leave their mother's protective arms to pursue their love of the oud. Music keeps them strong and alive in the face of the horrors of war. The screening will be accompanied by a live performance by the director himself. Afterwards, there will be a networking event in cooperation with the Robert Bosch Foundation.

BEZNESS AS USUAL (Alex Pitstra, the Netherlands 2016, 2.4., guest: Alex Pitstra) The filmmaker Alex has not seen his Tunisian father since childhood. His mother Anneke, who once brought his father Mohsen back from a holiday, raised him alone in Holland. When his father seeks contact with him, Alex travels to Tunisia. He not only meets his extended family there, but also a half-sister from Basel, Jasmin. Over the next 10 years, Alex documents the cultural and social webs of deception related to "bezness", the business of exoticism and wealth that set in during the 1970s tourism boom. With sensitivity and honesty, and a grain of humor, Alex examines his family history, the disappointed hopes, the solid claims but also the intercultural challenges faced by people with mixed backgrounds.

Shorts program "Time"(NIGHT SHIFT, ONE MINUTE, BREAD AND TEA, AND ROMEO MARRIED JULIET, FATHY DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE, LET'S BLEAT, 2.4. guests: Dina Naser & El-Mehdi Azzam) Sometimes it's just a matter of seconds, sometimes it lasts a whole lifetime. Alternating between the past, the present and the future, these shorts act, reflect and confront "time" in its different guises.

GHOST HUNTING (Raed Andoni, France/Palestine/Switzerland/Qatar 2017, 2.4.) The director Raed Andoni is fighting with the ghosts of the past - as a young man he was imprisoned in Israel's notorious Moskobiya interrogation center. Thirty years later, he gathers together a group of former prisoners who were also there. Using theatrical techniques, they reconstruct the prison's infrastructure in a disused parking lot, build cells and discuss interrogation methods. As reality and staged scenes are blurred, the men attain their physical and psychological limits, releasing long suppressed feelings.

LITTLE EAGLES (Mohamed Rashad, Egypt/Lebanon 2016, 2.4., guest: Mohamed Rashad) The filmmaker suffers from the lack of care and recognition from his father, a simple worker from Alexandria. He envies his activist friends Salma and Bassam, whose fathers were themselves left-wing activists in the 1970s, rising up against the repressive state powers. In their discussions with their parents, the interconnections between the private and the political become visible, as well as the frustrations with regard to the failed new social order that link the two generations. The filmmaker's rapprochement to his father is at once an attempt to come to terms with his own biography, as well as to understand the social mechanisms responsible for the left's failure in Egypt.

THE WAR SHOW(Andreas Dalsgaard, Obaidah Zytoon, Denmark/Finland/Syria 2016, 3.4., guest: Obaidah Zytoon) In spring 2011, the Syrian radio host Obaidah Zytoon took part in protests against the Assad regime. Aware that she was part of a historic moment, she started documenting the uprisings and struggles, as well as everyday life with her group of artist and activist friends. She also recorded intimate instants where the friends talked openly about love, art and politics. Under increasing pressure from the regime, she left Damascus and travelled around Syria, going from her hometown Zabadani to Homs to the north, where she witnessed the rise in religious extremism. As the events took their course, the friends were separated from each other. It was only when she was in exile in Turkey that Obaidah began to understand how valuable the footage on her smuggled hard disks actually was.

MIMOSAS (Oliver Laxe, Morocco/Spain/Qatar/France 2016, 3.4.) A caravan accompanies a dying sheikh across the Moroccan Atlas mountains. The man's final wish is to die among his relatives. But death is faster and the path through the inhospitable mountains is dangerous, so the journey comes to an end. Ahmed and Said, two opaque beings, promise to hand over the old man's corpse to his family. In a completely different place, Shakib is given the task of helping the caravan to reach its destination. He is deeply spiritual but also very doubtful as this is his first mission. The visually impressive tale examines questions of faith and destiny, seeking the divine between the past and the modern.

Shorts program "Water"(SUBMARINE, MARE NOSTRUM, KINDIL, THE BOY AND THE SEA, 4.4., guests: Anas Khalaf & Samer Ajouri) Like water in a tear, in the rain, in a river, in the sea, the elixir of life - with its breathtaking beauty but hidden perils - trickles from these shorts onto the screen.

OFF FRAME AKE REVOLUTION UNTIL VICTORY (Mohanad Yaqubi, Palestine/France/Qatar 2016, 4.4.) Using archives from the film departments of Palestinian resistance organizations that were once thought to have disappeared and international films of solidarity, this film creates a concentrated iconography of Palestinian resistance between 1968 and 1982. The material marks the transformation in the focalization point of Palestinian identity to active resistance within the international anti-imperialist movement, as well as the Palestinian contribution to Third Cinema. The film closes the circle of desire, reality and propaganda and asks questions with regard to representation and action.

SAMIR DANS LA POUSSIÈRE(Samir in the Dust, Mohamed Ouzine, France/Algeria/Qatar 2015, 5.4.,guest: Mohamed Ouzine) Samir makes a living smuggling gasoline to the Algerian-Moroccan border via narrow mountain passes. The pungent smell of gas lingers over the magnificent landscapes and mules are often Samir's only company for days at a time. He does not understand the filmmaker's fascination for the impressive panoramas. The mountains serve only to make his life more difficult. He dreams of a better life, a real house, perhaps a family. He and the filmmaker may have family ties, but they are worlds apart. However, as they begin to trust and know each other better, an existential dialogue about the human condition evolves against the stark backdrop of the Algerian mountains.

Shadi Abdel Salam retrospective shorts (THE ELOQUENT PEASANT, HORIZONS, ARMIES OF THE SUN, 5.4.) Inspired by some of the most important works of ancient Egyptian literature, THE ELOQUENT PEASANT (Egypt 1970) combines poetry, mythology and moral education. It was made with the same team immediately after the filmmaker's feature film "Al Mummia", one of the most important Egyptian films. It too is an attempt to derive significance for modern Egypt from the ancient Egyptian past. HORIZONS (Egypt, 1972) is a visual journey through Cairo's contemporary art and cultural scene, from classical music to theater, painting and artisanal art. In his documentary ARMIES OF THE SUN (Egypt, 1975), the director examines the 1973 October War against Israel and tries to draw a connection to Ancient Egypt.

FARAON (Pharaoh, Jerzy Kawalerowicz, Poland 1966, 6.4.) Nominated for an Oscar and based on a novel by Boleslaw Prus, this masterpiece of Polish cinema is set in Egypt during 11 BC. When his father dies, Ramses XII is bequeathed with a bitterly poor population, a corrupt elite and enemies lurking on the borders. He is young and politically inexperienced, but very ambitious. His visions of reform acquire him many powerful enemies. The high priests have both economic and military power. With its minimalist set and color concept, this visually stunning Cinemascope epic was hailed as an "intellectual monumental film" by the critics. Shadi Abdel Salam served as a history consultant and developed a close friendship with Kawalerowicz about whom he said: "He was the first to encourage me to stand behind the camera and direct one of the film shots. I learnt a lot from him." FARAON'S aesthetic influence on Abdel Salam's later work is evident.

Shorts program "Belonging"(HONEY AND OLD CHEESE, SOLO, OFFSIDE, AYNY, NYERKUK, 6.4., guests: Mohamed Kordofani & Ahmad Saleh) The protagonists of these shorts all long to belong, they all want to be part of a larger picture. The question is: Can we live without a feeling of belonging? (cj)

Thanks to the kind support of the German Foreign Office, the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Polish Institute.

arsenal cinema: 8. ALFILM – Arab Film Festival Berlin

07:00 pm Cinema 2


Samir dans la poussière

Samir dans la poussière Samir in the Dust Mohamed Ouzine
F/Algeria/Qatar 2015
DCP OV/EnS 61 min

Followed by a discussion with Mohamed Ouzine
arsenal cinema: Magical History Tour – No mans lands, parallel societies and half worlds in film

08:00 pm Cinema 1


Gilda

Gilda Charles Vidor USA 1946
With Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford
DCP OV 109 min

arsenal cinema: 8. ALFILM – Arab Film Festival Berlin

09:00 pm Cinema 2


The Eloquent Peasant

Armies of the Sun

Horizons

The Eloquent Peasant Shadi Abdel Salam Egypt 1970
35 mm OV/EnS 21 min
Armies of the Sun Shadi Abdel Salam Egypt 1975
DCP OV/EnS 38 min
Horizons Shadi Abdel Salam Egypt 1972
DCP OV/EnS 39 min

Introduced by Viola Shafik