With the festive season and countdown to the next decade in full swing, we’re winding down at work and snuggling up at home this winter – and what better way to spend time with family and loved ones than watching some classic movies?
More often than not at this time of year the most popular movies we indulge in from the land of Hollywood, but we’ve rounded up some classic Arabic movies for the whole family to enjoy together and perhaps learn something new about local cinema if they’re new to it…
Wadjda is the award winning film that put Saudi Arabian female filmmaker, Haifaa Al Mansour, on the international film industry’s radar, and was also the first feature length film to be shot entirely in the kingdom. The narrative of the film focuses on a young Saudi girl who wants to ride a bicycle in Saudi Arabia but is not allowed to and through this storyline, the movie touches on the representation of women in the kingdom, but through the eyes of an 11 year old girl trying to raise money for a bike. Wadjda has fast become a modern classic for today’s generation.
Bab’Aziz – The Prince That Contemplated His Soul (2005)
A fantastical film, Bab’Aziz is a Tunisian film that is part of director, NAcer Khemir’s trilogy of films entitled “Desert.” This part of the trilogy follows a blind dervish and his granddaughter Ishtar who walk through the desert together in search of a spiritual Sufi meeting that takes place once every 30 years. As they travel through the desert together, they come across a number of obstacles and other characters who also share their own stories.
Actress turned director, Nadine Labaki, made her directorial debut with this film. Caramel is a film set in a Beirut beauty salon, in which 5 women are discussing their lives and problems, which happen to intertwine, and ultimately brings them closer together. Nadine Labaki also stars in the film, and received much critical acclaim for the way in which she depicted the real issues women face.
The Last Night (1964)
Vintage Arabic cinema at its finest, The Last Night is a thriller that stars Faten Hamama as a middle aged woman who has a strange awakening as she gets up one morning to find that she is now 15 years older and married to her brother in law. All of the reasons and how she got there come to light in the 2 hour long film that was nominated at Cannes Film Festival in its hey day. The Arabic film explores topics including grief, loss and trauma.
Bab el Hadid (1958)
A love story like no other, Bab El Hadid is one of famed director, Youssef Chahine’s masterpieces. The Egyptian filmmaker is famed for some of Egyptian cinema’s most loved movies. Bab El Hadid focuses on Qinawi, a young newspaper seller at Cairo train station, who falls in love with a lemonade vendor there, Hannuma. Not a typical love story – this one is a must watch.