5 July 2007

Ahlaam (The Dream) was filmed in Baghdad in the aftermath of the US invasion. Its director, Mohamad Al Daradji, will take part in a special Q&A after the screening, chaired by Alice Morrison, Chief Executive of Northwest Vision + Media.

With parts of the Arab world continuing to dominate the news, our understanding of the region and its cultures is invariably framed and limited by images of war and conflict. Yet the Middle East is a region extraordinarily rich in music, dance, literature and film. And this years' Arabic Arts Festival will offer a flavour of just what the Arab world has to offer.

Alice Morrison says The Dream promises to be a thought-provoking feature. "I think it's a tremendously important film, bringing us a previously unseen insight into post-Saddam Iraq," says Alice, who speaks fluent Arabic, and spent several years working as a journalist in the Middle East, producing the BBC's first foreign language TV channel.

The Dream traces the paths of three characters whose lives are marked by the brutality of the Baa'thist regime, in what becomes an increasingly nightmarish odyssey. It's a voyeuristic tale, travelling from past to present. Throughout filming in Baghdad, which took place immediately after the US invasion, The Dream's cast and crew were subject to the threat of kidnapping from both sides. The reality of their precarious situation is apparent throughout the film.

The Dream is just one of twenty events taking place across Liverpool, during the Arabic Arts Festival. Now in its sixth year, the festival is the only one of its kind in the UK and the 2007 programme has lined up a spectacular two-week calendar, showcasing and celebrating cultural achievements from across the Arab world. The Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival (July 1-15) provides a platform for international, national and local artists and communities and is expected to attract audiences, not just from Merseyside, but from across the UK and beyond.

Festival Manager Ngozi Ikoku says, "This year we have artistic representation from Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Palestine, France, America and Britain. We hope that the people from Liverpool and beyond will delight in this rich celebration of Arab arts and culture."