Arab Cinema Now: Time Travel through Short Arab Films

These recent short films culled from the International Film Festival Rotterdam move between imagined worlds from the past, present, and future. Subjects range from Bangladeshi freedom fighters in 1980s Lebanon to the current war in Syria to an imaginary sci-fi Palestine.

Arab Cinema Now: “A Magical Substance Flows Through Me”

Robert Lachmann was a German-Jewish ethnomusicologist. In the 1930s, his radio show “Oriental Music” explored the musical traditions of Palestine and included regular live performances by musicians from different ethnic and religious groups. Inspired by Lachmann’s musicological studies, Palestinian artist Jumana Manna travels through Israel and the Palestinian territories of today with recordings from the program.

Arab Cinema Now: “The Dream of Shahrazad”

Drawing on the stories known collectively as The Arabian Nights, The Dream of Shahrazad contextualizes recent upheavals across the Middle East within a broader historical and cultural legacy. A charismatic conductor uses Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade suite as a tool for political education, leading up to a final performance at Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace.

Summer Film Series: “Ghost Hunting” by Raed Andoni

In order to confront the ghosts that haunt him, Palestinian director Raed Andoni assembles an eclectic group of ex-prisoners to build a replicate of Al-Moskobiya, Israel’s main interrogation centre, where he was himself jailed at age 18.

Summer Film Series: “Off Frame, AKA Revolution Until Victory” by Mohanad Yaqubi

Off Frame, AKA Revolution Until Victory is Mohanad Yaqubi’s study of the films produced by the Palestine Film Unit of the PLO in the 1960s and 1970s. These films reflect a primary concern with self-representation for the Palestinian people and their struggles for self-determination. Unearthing films stored in archives across the world after an unprecedented search and access, the film beings with popular representations of modern Palestine and traces the works of militant filmmakers in reclaiming image and narrative through revolutionary and militant cinema.

Summer Film Series: “1948 – Creation and Catastrophe”

This documentary tells the story of the establishment of Israel as seen through the eyes of the people who lived it, with the aim of enhancing global understanding of what happened 1948. It is also the last chance to hear first-hand accounts of what took place in Haifa, Jaffa, Dayr Yasin, Acre, Jerusalem, Ramle and Lydda from the Israelis and Palestinians who personally fought in and fled from this land, including interviews with veterans, refugees, survivors and historians of the war collected in Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.

Summer Film Series: “Two Blue Lines” by Tom Hayes

Two Blue Lines provides an unswerving examination of the human and political rights situation of Palestinian people living under Israeli rule. The documentary, shot over a period of twenty five years in Israeli occupied Palestinian territory, presents Israeli narratives of the Palestinian experience from the 1930’s to the present that are seldom heard outside of Israel.

Summer Film Series: “Speed Sisters” by Amber Fares

On the surface Speed Sisters is about the first all-woman race car driving team in the Middle East, but it is about far more than that. Following the contests, friendships, and lives of the five team members, this documentary dispels many misconceptions about Palestinian social life under occupation, particularly in its portrait of the younger generation, and most importantly, in what it captures of the agency of women within this matrix.

Summer Film Series: “Cinema Palestine” by Tim Schwab

This feature-length documentary explores the concept of Palestinian cinema produced by an effectively stateless people. Cinema Palestine combines in-depth interviews with directors including Hany Abu-Assad, Azza el-Hassan, Sobhi Zobaidi, Mai Masri, Tawfik Abu Wael, Annemarie Jacir, and many more, along with excerpts from their films.