AALA KAF IFRIT (Beauty and the Dogs, Kaouther Ben Hania, F/Tunisia/Sweden/Norway/Lebanon/Switzerland/Qatar 2017, 11.4., guest: Mariam Al Ferjani) will open 9. ALFILM. The attractive Mariam (Mariam Al Ferjani) meets Youssef at a party, which they leave together. A tour de force follows for the young woman who has to fight for her rights and dignity. Based on a true story, the film paints an atmospheric picture of post-revolution Tunisia, where the old power structures remain, and Mariam’s struggle for justice becomes a show of assertion against the system. In cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
The SPOTLIGHT will open with ROOM FOR A MAN (Anthony Chidiac, Lebanon/USA 2017, 12.4., guest: Anthony Chidiac) From the vantage of a room decorated in baroque fashion, a camera observes the exterior world - another room - and thus the possibility of another world. In this autobiographical exploration of the concepts of masculinity and belonging, the camera is a mediator and an accomplice for the filmmaker. Amid a domineering mother, an absent father and the Syrian construction workers renovating Anthony’s room, the reconstruction of a queer identity located between Argentina and Lebanon begins.
A MEMORY IN KHAKI (Alfoz Tanjour, Qatar 2016, 12.4.) Starting out from his own history, the director traces the biographies of fellow Syrians who had to leave their home for political reasons - many of them long before the events of 2011. He finds a binding symbol of oppression by the regime and the militarization of the society in the color khaki. This award-winning film distills a daily atmosphere of fear and terror from the memories of the protagonists, putting the events of the past years in context.
WAJIB (Annemarie Jacir, Palestine//F/Colombia/G/UAE/Qatar/Norway, 12.4.) It is a wajib – a religious duty – that brings Shadi (Saleh Bakri) back from Rome to his hometown Nazareth. His sister Amal is about to get married and according to tradition he has to personally hand the invitations to the guests at the side of his divorced father Abu Shadi (Saleh Bakri’s father Mohammad Bakri). The personal and political conflicts of the two men come to the fore when they are on the road, but the director’s take on the idiosyncrasies of this Christian environment where family secrets are discussed as little as politics is humorous.
DES MOUTONS ET DES HOMMES (Of Sheep and Men, Karim Sayad, F/Switzerland/Algeria 2017, 12.4.) Habib is 16 and dreams of becoming a vet. Since he has no schooling, however, his immediate goal is to lead his ram to victory three times in a sheep fighting competition. Samir, who is 42, has already accepted the reality of life - he hopes to sell his sheep for a profit and the upcoming Eid celebrations offer him a good opportunity. The relationships between men and sheep, fighting and trading reveal an unusual everyday portrait of Algeria, where the cracks between the classes as well as between the past and the present are far from healed.
MEIN PARADIES (My Paradise, Ekrem Heydo, G/Kurdistan-Syria 2016, 13.4., guest: Ekrem Heydo) An old school photo leads the director back to his home Serê Kaniyê (Ras el-Ain) in the Kurdish part of northern Syria, 25 years later. The photo depicts a multi-ethnic society of Arabs, Kurds, Chechens and Armenians, a society which has been split into different ethnic and confessional camps since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria. Ekrem Heydo does not find all his schoolfriends - one was killed, others were forced to flee, leaving behind property and friends. This journey into the past becomes a quest for the foundations of a co-existence in a politically unstable region.
MAYYEL YA GHZAYYEL (Those Who Remain, Eliane Raheb, Lebanon 2016, 13.4., guest: Eliane Raheb) In northern Lebanon, dangerously close to the Syrian border, the middle-aged farmer Haykal runs a restaurant using the produce from his farm and builds his family home alone. But this seemingly idyllic rural life is deceptive. The civil war has divided the Christian, Sunni and Shi’a communities who live so closely together Despite economic stagnation, the unstable situation and the annoying daily columns of trucks, Haykal refuses to give up his fight for his home and a peaceful co-existence.
“Unknown Distances” short film program: (A DROWNING MAN, FIFTEEN, LAND OF OUR FATHERS, BONBONÉ, LAW OF THE LAMB, 13.4.) Immersed in life’s hectic nature but separated from the self: The films observe loss, confinement, loneliness and displacement not only as physical distances but also as the unknown within one’s inner self.
VENT DU NORD (Northern Wind, Walid Mattar, Belgium/F/Tunisia 2017, 13.4.) A shoe factory in the north of France closes down and the machines are moved to a new location in Tunisia. Hervé is left with little more than to try to earn a living from fishing. He also tries to drum a little business sense into his good-for-nothing son. In an industrial park in Tunisia, Foad stands at a punching press to make enough money to buy urgently needed medicine for his mother and to win over his attractive colleague Karima. In his feature-length debut, Kamar uses black humor to observe the movement of capital and people along the north-south axis between France and Tunisia.
“Lebanon: Wild at Heart” short film program: (THE SHIELD THAT I CARRY, SALAMAT FROM GERMANY, MISSED FORTUNES, CLEANING SCHAERBEEK, THE PRESIDENT’S VISIT, 14.4.) Deceit, gossip, lies and traps: Stories of wild Lebanese people who behave completely wrongly and discover the bare truth about themselves and their society.
SPOTLIGHT: OMAR GATLATO (Merzak Allouache, Algeria 1976, 14.4., guest: Merzak Allouache) A classic of Arab cinema, whose restored version is being screened in Germany for the first time. Masculinity and machismo are central elements in the life of the loud-mouthed Omar, the main protagonist. He and his friends roam through the city’s streets and watch romantic Bollywood films in the cinema. Omar’s real passion is music and his tape collection is sacred. His real encounters with the opposite sex make him feel insecure until the voice of the mysterious Selma on a used cassette enchants him. Allouache’s first feature-length film humorously reflects the reality of Algerian youth, caught between universal dreams and very real borders.
SPOTLIGHT: SAKEN (Sandra Madi, Jordan/Palestine 2014, 14.4.) In 1980, Ibrahim Salameh joins the Palestinian resistance in Lebanon. Two years later, he is seriously injured in a raid and lies paralyzed in a PLO hospital in Amman. He is looked after by Walid, who had to leave his family behind in Egypt to make a living in Jordan. While Ibrahim wallows in the past glory of his identity as a fighter, Walid carries out the necessary care. The imbalance of power between the two and Walid’s homesickness jeopardize their friendship.
SPOTLIGHT double feature: MAJNOUNAK: ON MEN, SEX AND THE CITY (Akram Zaatari, Lebanon 1997/2016, 14.4.) In 1997, the filmmaker interviewed men on the coast of Beirut and asked them to talk about a special sexual experience that they had had. The portraits of male sexuality were re-arranged and edited in 2016. CINEMA FOUAD (Mohammed Soueid, Lebanon 1994, 14.4., guest: Mohammed Soueid) Soueid’s intimate portrait of the Syrian transsexual Khaled El Kurdi draws an arc from everyday scenes to the protagonist’s work as a dancer in a Beirut nightclub and his participation as a fighter in the Lebanon civil war.
“(De-)Constructed Realities” short film program (TSHWEESH, LAST DAYS OF THE MAN OF TOMORROW, STREET OF DEATH, 15.4. guest: Feyrouz Serhal, Fadi Baki, Karam Ghossein) How much of truth is fiction and how much of fiction is truth? Based on real events, these short films put time, space and characters together to reveal new realities. With the support of the Robert Bosch Foundation.
NIHAYAT SAIDA (Happily Ever After, Nada Riyadh, Ayman El Amir, Egypt 2016, 15.4., guest: Nada Riyadh) In the midst of the political upheavals of the “Arab Spring” the filmmaker Nada falls in love with Ayman. When he wants to leave the country because of the increasingly difficult social and political situation, she is unsure of what to do. Can she persuade him to stay? She openly confronts her fears and doubts and tries to cling on to her love and hope for her country. This intimate documentary depicts the uncertainty of a whole generation of young Egyptians who suffer from their parents’ political legacy but want to shape their own present. In cooperation with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.
SPOTLIGHT: AKHDAR YABES (Withered Green, Mohammed Hammad, Egypt 2016, 15.4., guest: Mohammed Hammad) After the death of their parents, Iman and her younger sister Noha live alone in Cairo. Caught between everyday worries and the inexplicable changes in her body, Iman who is in her mid-30s seems to be as brittle as the cacti that she cultivates. Her moody sister’s engagement could free her from her duties but tradition calls for a male relative to attend the ceremony. Because the sisters are not very close to their family, Iman has to come up with something while the test results from a visit to the doctor loom and risk throwing her off track.
SPOTLIGHT: MADAME COURAGE (Merzak Allouache, Algeria/F 2015, 15.4., guest: Merzak Allouache) An unsparing portrait of a lost generation, marked by poverty, violence and drugs. Omar is unemployed and makes ends meet with petty theft. His single mother bullies him with outbreaks of violence, his sister prostitutes herself and he himself suffers from his own failure to act. He numbs himself regularly with “Madame Courage” a synthetic drug that gives him the feeling of being invincible. When he meets the young Selma on a thieving spree, a shimmer of hope appears.
SPOTLIGHT: AL ABWAB AL MOGHLAKA (The Closed Doors, Atef Hetata, Egypt 1999, 16.4.) Atef Hetata’s feature film debut is set in Egypt during the First Gulf War. Hamada is a shy teenager who lives alone with his divorced mother Fatma (Sawsan Badr), a maid for a rich family in Cairo. He confronts the challenges of the society and his sexual development by becoming increasingly religious and fundamentalist. This has an impact on the oedipal relationship with his mother. This multifaceted film tells the story of a teenager who does not have any male role models apart from the traditional cliched figures provided by a a patriarchal society.
AL-MANAM (The Dream, Mohamad Malas, Syria 1987, 16.4.) To mark 70 years since the Nakba: Daily life in the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon in 1981, people talk of their dreams, the radio plays music. A surreal picture of reality emerges. The film was made in 1987 with the help of GDR television: Malas no longer wanted to work on the pictures after the 1982 massacres because many of the people depicted were no longer alive.
PALESTINE IN SIGHT: HANI JAWHARIYA (Mustafa Abu Ali, Palestine 1976, 16.4.) A tribute to Hani Jawhariya, a cameraman in PLO’s Palestine Film Unit who contributed significantly to the films of the Palestinian resistance. He died while shooting a film in Lebanon. With the support of the League of Arab States.
17 (Widad Shafakoj, Jordan 2017, 17.4.) The film accompanies the Jordanian U-17 women’s team ahead of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup that took place in Jordan in 2016. The players have different social and sports backgrounds and are passionate about the preparations. The biggest challenge lies before them: They will be playing against the best teams in the world. The film is a sensitive tribute to the girls’ willpower and devotion to their sport in a traditional society dominated by men.
THE ROOF (Kamal Aljafari, Palestine 2006, 17.4.) To mark 70 years since the Nakba: The filmmaker returns to his family in Jaffa. With long shots, conversations with the family and research into the fragmented geography of his home, Aljafari reveals the transformation of public space and its social and historical structures by the Israeli state. There is no roof on house that the family moved into in 1948. It once belonged to another Palestinian family, which was also forced to leave. (cj)