4 July 2012

Once again, FACT brings to its audience in this season of Arab Film a selection of feature and documentary films which celebrate the ongoing cultural and artistic explosion in the Arab world today. Indeed, the Arab revolutions and uprisings will continue to advance this phenomenal cultural production in seasons to come!

This year's Festival starts off on 6 July with the Lebanese director Rania Stephan's groundbreaking film The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni at the Kazimier. The film is a personal as well as an artistic exploration of the cinematic journey of the Egyptian legendary actress Soad Hosni throughout her career which lasted for more than three decades. Stephan reconstructs Hosni's tale as "the Cinderella of the Arab Screen" as she was referred to, through her long cinematic journey which in turn reflects many aspects of the changing socio-political events in Egypt from the late 1950s to the early 1990s. Here we see how Hosni's films mirror Egyptian society, particularly the position and role of women in Egypt. Hosni's powerful cinematic image and her ability to play all kinds of roles (comedy, tragedy, melodrama, thriller, and so on) made her an icon of the Arab screen.

On 9 July, FACT brings its audience the double bill Nomad's Home by Iman Kamel, and From Palestine with Love by Mahasen Nasser-Eldin and Camilla Magid, two documentaries which explore the trajectory of women in the Sinai Peninsula and the Palestinian Occupied Territories. The filmmakers here follow the tales of their women protagonists in search of their dreams and aspirations for a better life for themselves and their communities at large. The two films indicate how lives of women in the Arab world intersect, even as they live in different territories and belong to different social backgrounds.

Okay, Enough, Goodbye by directors Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia screened on 12 July, take us to Tripoli, Lebanon in an exploration of a coming of age tale of their protagonist, an archetype of a lonely man in his forties, living in a traditional Lebanese community. The ground shakes beneath his feet when his elderly mother leaves him for a few days to visit her friends in Beirut. He is left behind to mange his life in a city which he begins to explore for the first time in his life. He encounters a number of exciting characters who each bring to his life a knowledge of the world which he never thought of before. This witty, dark-humored comedy is fascinating on many levels. This special screening will be introduced by internationally acclaimed writer and editor, Malu Halasa.

The festival also features a UK Premiere of Egyptian filmmaker Khaled al-Hagar's important film El Shooq (Lust) starring the well-known Egyptian actress Sawsan Badr. The film is set in a neighborhood in Alexandria before the 2011 Egyptian revolution, and portrays many gender, religious, and class complexities in the lives of its characters. The film can be perceived as part of a body of work which have been set in Alexandria in a attempt to investigate the changes which have befallen this city over the past decade or so.

Other experimental and exciting films also screening in this season are VHS Kahloucha, which tells the kitsch and campy story of one of Tunisia's underground film icons, Moncef Kahloucha; and Axis of Light, Pia Getty's third film project and features the artists Jananne Al-Ani, Ayman Balbaaki, Mona Saudi, Mona Hatoum, Etel Adnan, Youssef Nabil, Rachid Koraichi and Shirin Neshat, in an attempt to capture the ever developing contemporary art scene in the context of the wider "Middle East".

To sum up, this outstanding selection of films from and on the Arab world introduces some fascinating developments to the genres of feature and documentary filmmaking by Arab directors or foreign directors filming the Arab world today.

AFF kicks off on Friday 6 July with the 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.