Fri. Oct. 20, at 6:30 pm, followed by a reception sponsored by the Jordanian American Association of DC
Sun. Oct. 22, at 4:00 pm
In this sly comedy, the middle-aged, scrawny, bespectacled Ahmad doesn't belong in prison. But when the quiet contractor and father of two is charged with fraud over an unfortunate business deal, things spiral out of control. The unreliability of his cousin and would-be savior leads to a comic series of miscommunications with the police and Ahmad's lawyer, landing our hero in prison. Ironically, once behind bars, he gradually feels something that he's never felt before — liberty. Ahmad discovers that prison has its own rhythms, its own rules, and its own economies — and he begins to carve out a position for himself, learning to make good in this place where fraud isn't a crime so much as a way of life. However, he also discovers that no matter which side of the bars he's on, events are guided by forces beyond his control. –Toronto International Film Festival
Jordan, Directed by Mahmoud al Massad, 2016, 83 minutes. In Arabic with English subtitles.
Co-presented with the Jordanian American Association of DC
A Day for Women
Fri.Oct. 27, at 9:00 pm
Sat. Oct. 28, at 9:00 pm
Opening film of the Cairo International Film Festival and official selection at the BFI London Film Festival, A Day for Women is the latest Egyptian film creating international buzz. In the film, the opening of a new swimming pool is the talk of the town – particularly because Sunday has been announced as a day for women. Bringing together very different women of a small community is an unexpected equalizer – no one is more excited than Azza, who dreams of wearing a swimsuit. Shamiya (Elham Shahin), considered a ‘loose woman’, finds herself talking about her life to an inquisitive and supportive audience. Even Lula ventures along – a sign that she is beginning to confront the grief of having recently lost her son. Naturally, the men of the community can’t help but be curious and find their own colorful way of protesting against the women’s day. From the director of One-Zero (Arabian Sights, 2010) Kamla Abu Zekry’s latest film is a reflection on community, co-existence and freedom. –BFI London Film Festival
Egypt, Directed by Kamla Abu Zekry, 2016, 111 minutes. In Arabic with English subtitles.
Sat., Oct. 21, at 7:00 pm, followed by a reception sponsored by the Embassy of the Republic of Tunisia
Sun. Oct. 29, at 5:00 pm
An explosive triangle of jealousy, doubt, and attraction erupts in this fourth feature by Satin Rouge director, Raja Amari. Seeking refuge from her Islamist radical brother, whom she denounced to authorities, young Samia flees her homeland in the turbulent aftermath of the Tunisian revolution. She braves hostile seas in the crossing to France, but once there she finds that her struggles have only just begun. With no friends, no family, and — most crucially — no immigration papers, Samia must make a life and a living in a foreign land. She meets a young man, Imed (Salim Kechiouche, Blue is the Warmest Color), and soon finds work as a maid in the employ of the elegant Leila (the inimitable Hiam Abbass). As the three become more intimately acquainted and emotionally intertwined, Samia’s intuition simultaneously leads her closer to unraveling the mystery of her brother’s fate. –Various sources
Tunisia/France, Directed by Raja Amari, 2016, 92 minutes. In French and Arabic with English subtitles.
Co-presented with the Embassy of Tunisia and the Middle East Institute
I Still Hide to Smoke
Sat. Oct. 21, at 9:00 pm
Sun. Oct. 22, at 8:00 pm
A Turkish bath serves as a femme-centric refuge in an Algiers beset by car bombs and baton-waving fundamentalists. Set in the 1990s, when Algerian politics boiled over after the Islamist uprising, I Still Hide to Smoke follows a day-in-the-life of 50-year-old Fatima (Hiam Abbass), who runs a women’s bath that becomes the setting for a series of steamy, provocative and political confrontations between women of all ages, shapes and sizes. This intriguing and insightful drama breaks cultural taboos and takes us into a haven where women find respite in each other’s company at a time, and in a place, where they have few possibilities to freely express themselves. Featuring an ensemble cast, I Still Hide to Smoke won the audience award at the Thessaloniki Film Festival as well as 7 awards at the Cyprus International Film Festival. –Various sources
Algeria/France/Greece, Directed by Rayhana, 2016, 90 minutes. In Arabic and French with English subtitles.
Sun.Oct. 22, at 6:00 pm
Sun.Oct. 29, at 3:00 pm
Trapped inside her home in a city under siege, a mother of three turns her flat into a safe harbor for her family and neighbors in an attempt to protect them from the war raging on the streets of Damascus. This powerful multi-award winning drama brings audiences a rare look at a conflict zone from the inside... literally. Protected only by the balcony's window lattice and a wooden deadbolt on the apartment door, little stands between the residents and the war just outside their walls. Despite a shortage of water and fresh food, household matriarch, Oum Yazan (Hiam Abbass) attempts to maintain some kind of normalcy. She does her best to impose loving order, even when that means withholding information or keeping everyone confined to the tiny kitchen. But with the seemingly endless sniper attacks just beyond the apartment's windows and imposing knocks at their bolted door, every decision could be a matter of life or death, forcing difficult moral choices in the struggle to survive. –Toronto International Film Festival
Lebanon/Belgium/France, Directed by Philippe Van Leeuw, 2017, 86 minutes. In Arabic with English subtitles.
Co-presented with the Middle East Institute
Fri. Oct. 20, at 8:30 pm
Sat. Oct. 28, at 4:45 pm
Known for its biting social criticism, My Uncle is a humorous, entertaining film that does not shy away from addressing cultural struggles in the modern world. Alia is a struggling actress living in Rabat with her two roommates. As she attempts to navigate her way in cinema – in spite of the negative perceptions of women in the acting profession – she remains diligently optimistic that she will become a famous actress. One day her Uncle Abderraouf, who she barely knows, visits her from out of town. As a result of his visit, Alia’s life is thrown into a comedic confusion of circumstances as she juggles hosting her uncle and pursuing her acting career, while facing problems with her fiancé and his family. Uncle Abderraouf is played by the beloved and legendary comic artist, 80-year old Abderrahim Tounsi, who created a Moroccan Chaplin-style character that was hugely popular in the 1970s and early 80s. –Various sources
Morocco, Directed by Nassim Abassi, 2016, 115 minutes. In Arabic with English subtitles.
Co-presented with the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco
Sat., Oct. 21, at 4:30 pm
Fri., Oct. 27, at 6:30 pm
An Egyptian box office smash hit, The Originals is the latest film from critically acclaimed director Marwan Hamed (The Yacoubian Building) and best-selling novelist Ahmed Mourad (The Blue Elephant). In this visually stunning thriller, Samir (Maged al-Kedwany) works for a bank, provides for his ever-demanding family and dreams of singing in an Egyptian talent show. When he is unexpectedly fired, Samir finds himself recruited to be part of a secret society, called The Originals, which has unlimited access to surveillance at their disposal. They have taken it upon themselves to keep an eye on every Egyptian who might be a potential threat. The Originals leads a new wave of modern cinema as it thematically and technically breaks structures of conventional Egyptian narratives. With Hamed and Mourad at the helm of an all-star cast, this trailblazing film has cemented its place in leading edge Egyptian cinema and has all the ingredients for a classic in the making. –Various Sources
Egypt, Directed by Marwan Hamed, 2017, 125 minutes. In Arabic with English subtitles.
Sat. Oct. 28, at 7:00 pm
This Filmfest DC comedy hit is back by popular demand! Therese is the wife of a mayor of a small Lebanese village. The highly anticipated visit of her daughter’s suitor’s family causes much excitement. Therese’s brother, who was killed during fighting with Syrian troops 20 years ago, still features heavily in the family’s home and looms large through photographs all around the house. Therese shares her happiness with her deceased brother—through his photographs — until she discovers that her long-awaited guests are from Syria. When Therese cannot contain her personal prejudices, the film turns increasingly farcical as she makes outlandish attempts to thwart the union. With charming performances, this film successfully balances warm-hearted laughs with timely social insight. –Various sources
Lebanon/Jordan/Egypt, Directed by Sophie Boutros, 2016, 92 minutes. In Arabic with English subtitles.
Sun.,Oct. 29 at 7:00 pm
Followed by a Closing Party, $20.00
Part social commentary, and part sheer thrill ride, The Worthy is breathless, an audacious ripping up the script of what to expect from an Arabic language film. Emirati filmmaker Ali F. Mostafa (City of Life, Arabian Sights 2010 and From A to B, Arabian Sights 2015) makes his most ambitious, mature film to date with The Worthy, a visually spectacular dystopian take on an Arab world torn apart by social disorder. A prologue shows us a truck driver picking up a hitchhiker. The man, his face hollow with distress, warns the driver to beware the black flags before he disappears into the distance. Heeding the hitchhiker’s warning, the driver moves to an abandoned warehouse with his children and a small group of survivors, seeking refuge with the only clean remaining water source in the area. When two visitors infiltrate their compound, they soon become pawns in a test for survival, where only one of them shall be chosen worthy. –BFI London Film Festival
United Arab Emirates, Directed by Ali F. Mostafa, 2017, 99 minutes. In Arabic with English subtitles.
Co-presented with the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates