Arab film festival opens on August 10

28 de julho de 2016

São Paulo – The 11th Arab World Film Festival begins on August 10 in São Paulo. It will feature 30 films divided into five different categories. A new addition this year is an animated film-only category with productions from Iraq and Palestine.

“We will show three short animations – two by Iraqis and one by a Palestinian. The films are based on children’s drawings,” says festival curator Geraldo Adriano Godoy de Campos. The animated section is called “Little Gazes” and will feature Children of War, Drawing for Better Dreams and The Iraqi Superman. Animations will be included in other sections of the festival as well.

The event is held by the Institute of Arab Culture (Icarabe) in a partnership with Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil and the Social Service of Commerce (Sesc). The Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce is one of the festival’s sponsors.

“The festival has been a success year after year. There hasn’t been a year that it wasn’t better than in the last one,” says Icarabe president José Farhat on the event’s success over the past decade. “These are films of the highest level, films that were successful at international competitions. This edition will be a success, just like the last ones,” he bets.

The festival will open at Cinesesc-São Paulo at 8pm with Men of Clay, a Moroccan film co-produced with Belgium and France. “During World War II, the French went to their colonies to recruit people to fight the Nazis. Some 950,000 people from North Africa joined the fight against Germany, and this is their story,” Campos says of the 2015 production. The film’s director, Morocco’s Mourad Boucif, will be there.

Campos also highlights the showing of yet another animated film, The Prophet, which is based on the Lebanese writer Khalil Gibran’s book, and will be shown as part of the “Arab World Overview” section, which features new releases from the Middle East and North Africa.

The film tells the tale of a friendship, set in the imaginary island of Orphalese, between eight-year old Almitra and Mustafa, a political prisoner serving a house arrest sentence. The film will be discussed afterwards in a debate featuring Jamil Iskandar, a Philosophy professor at the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp).

Another animated highlight is the Lebanese-Qatari production Waves 98. The film portrays the story of Omar and is set in a recovering, post-war, 1990s Beirut. For Omar, growing up in the suburb meant spending his teenage years on the fringes, without ever having gone to some of the city’s areas. “It won best short film at Cannes last year,” Campos points out.

Other featured genres will include thrillers, dramas, documentaries, adventure movies and comedies. Other festival sections will be Palestinian Cinema, Arab-Latin Dialogues and Image, Time and Memory, including short and feature films.

A highlight drama piece is the Palestinian-made Hail Mary. Nominated for a 2016 Academy Award for Best Short Film, it portrays everyday life in a small religious community in the West Bank desert whose residents made a vow of silence. Their lives change as a family of Israeli settlers wreck their car on the wall of the local convent.

This year, the festival will also encourage dialogue between Brazilian and Arab filmmakers. Campos invited three local directors to attend and comment screening sessions – Marcelo Masagão, Thiago Mendonça, and Luiz Bolognesi. They will discuss issues relating to some of the movies on show, such as time and memory.

After the event opens, the films will be shown from August 11 through 28 at venues Cinesesc-SP, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo Cultural Center, Casa das Rosas and the Mário de Andrade Library.

Quick facts

11th Arab World Film Festival
Opening on August 10 at 8pm
Where: Cinesesc-SP – Rua Augusta, 2075
The festival will run from August 11 to 28
Full program will be out soon. Keep track of the festival’s Facebook page here:

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum