The annual Rotterdam Arab Film Festival is back, bringing its vibrant celebration of Arab cinema to the artistic and multicultural landscape of the Dutch city. Running until September 10th, this cultural extravaganza is set to captivate audiences with a diverse array of films and thought-provoking discussions.
The festival proudly showcases a curated selection of films hailing from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Tunisia. A total of 28 carefully picked films will make up this cinematic journey; each one will challenge preconceived notions about the Arab world and delve into its many facets, including its politics, society, culture, and artistic expression.
One noteworthy highlight is the representation of Saudi Arabian cinema, featuring three compelling films: the record-breaking hit comedy-drama "Sattar," the short film "Yallah, Yallah, Beenah" directed by Mohammed Hammad, and the groundbreaking "Valley Road," Saudi Arabia's inaugural musical film.
Beyond the silver screen, the festival offers a rich tapestry of events, including discussions and workshops involving directors, actors, industry experts, and cinephiles. The overarching goal is to strengthen Arab cinema and filmmakers while nurturing cross-cultural exchange between the Arab world and Europe.
Throughout the festival's duration, specific attention will be dedicated to key themes, such as the pivotal role of Arab music pioneers, the evolving role of women in Arab cinema, and the development of Iraqi filmmaking over the past three decades. The festival kicks off with a concert celebrating Arabic music, paying homage to Sayid Darwish, a luminary in Egyptian pop music, who bridged traditional Egyptian beats with Western elements.
The spotlight on women in contemporary Arab cinema is particularly illuminating. Under the theme "Spotlight on Women in Arab Cinema," the festival will present five films, host a panel discussion, and offer a masterclass to delve into the transformative narratives. Esteemed figures from the Arab film industry, including Hana Shiha, Dalia El-Behery, and Nisrin Erradi, will interact with the audience in an open forum.
Iraqi cinema also receives its due recognition with a seminar titled "The Guardian of the National Memory." Distinguished Iraqi film director Kassem Hawal will explore topics such as the influence of the political climate on the creation of films and the communal memories present in Iraqi cinema.
All screenings and related activities will take place in Rotterdam's renowned cinemas, including LantarenVenster and Pathe Schouwburgplein, as well as the cultural hub Verhalenhuis Belvedere. Tickets can be obtained at www.arabfilmfestival.nl