29 June 2012

The Arab Film Festival (AAF) is the only regular festival in the UK that looks at the breadth and scope of cinema produced in and inspired by the Arab world.

We caught up with AFF diector Omar Kholeif to find out more about what to expect...

What are you excited about?

The Arab Film Festival! And the fact that it is back for its second iteration. I'm excited about just how different the programme is this year. In our inaugural edition in 2011, there was a real sense that we had to write so-called 'Arab' cinema into the history of what was conceived as world cinema. On this occasion, the festival is standing back and taking the time to reflect on more recent practices in filmmaking in the region.

What have you learnt since the last edition?

I've done a significant amount of work on developing networks for Arab cinema across the UK and Europe. I've curated festivals at the Cornerhouse in Manchester and with the Arab British Centre, and the ICA in London, and sat on over a dozen panels speaking on the subject. I write and read on the subject religiously and I return to Cairo and Beirut after the festival for further archival research.

What are your highlights for the festival?

The texture and tone of each screening differs greatly this year. The outdoor screening of Rania Stephan's meditation on the life of Egyptian star Soad Hosni is bound to be an 'experience' and I'm delighted that we get to return to our collaboration with Khaled El Hagar and show the UK premiere of his film, Lust. I also have a very soft spot in my heart for VHS Kahloucha, which is a documentary about a Tunisian auteur filmmaker that's also making its first UK appearance. 

AFF kicks off on Friday 6 July with a FREE outdoor screening of The Three Disapparances of Soad Hosni at the Kazimier. The festival will continue with screenings at FACT every day until 12 July. You can find the full programme here. 

Tickets can be booked online, by calling 0871 902 5737 or in person at the Box Office at FACT.

AFF is a collaboration with the long-standing Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival which includes a variety of talks, exhibitions, music and events and takes place between 6-15 July.