This Friday, the Dublin Arabic Film Festival begins once again the Irish Film Institute. a celebration of the best of contemporary Arabic cinema, providing a window into Arabic people, culture and politics. The festival, organised by president and director Jim Sheridan and Zahara Moufid respectively, will show 5 films from October 6th to 8th showcasing filmmaking from the Arabic region.
Women’s role in Arabic society has emerged as a key theme at this year’s festival, with two of the selected films being directed by women: the Opening Night presentation the comedy of manners, Solitaire, from Lebanon and Beauty and the Dogs, a provocative and technically impressive film from Tunisia. With the IFI’s recent implementation of the F-Rating for films made by women, this makes for good programming, the kinds of films that catch the eye of our own #52Fridays. Other films in the programme include Gaza Surf Club explores a new generation of young Palestinian surfers, while the mad sounding Egyptian film Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim will provide some comic relief.
Solitaire Friday Oct 6, 8pm
The Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner template works to winning effect in Sophie Boutros’ comedy-drama that casts a shrewd eye over the tensions between Syria and Lebanon.
Therese, the wife of the mayor of a Lebanese village, is preparing to meet her daughter’s suitor and family, who are, unbeknownst to Theresa, Syrian. Therese still mourns for her brother who was killed in a Syrian bombing some twenty years ago and has been outspoken in her prejudice towards the neighbouring country ever since. Her prejudices will, however, be confronted over an exceedingly uncomfortable dinner party.
Tramontane Saturday Oct 7 2pm
The life of young blind Lebanese musician Rabih (real life musician Barakat Jabbour) is thrown into uncertainty when he applies for a passport to go on a European tour with his band.
When doubt is cast upon the authenticity of his documentation, it leads the confused and frustrated Rabih on a quest into rural Lebanon to uncover the true nature of his identity. Through the poetic figure of a rootless blind musician, director Boulghourjian subtly reflects on the collective disorientation and amnesia of a nation damaged by years of conflict and unrest.
Gaza Surf Club Saturday Oct 7 4.15pm
Despite the harsh conditions endured by the population of Gaza, everyday life continues. As a result of the restrictions placed upon them, the younger generation must be inventive in finding physical outlets and creating entertainment.
For one small group, including 15-year-old Sabah, who learned the sport as a girl, but is now no longer allowed to practice in public, relief comes from surfing the Mediterranean, on surfboards gathered with great difficulty. Although the film celebrates this group, the backdrop against which it is set infuses it with an undeniable melancholy.
Ali, the Goat and Ibrahim Sunday Oct 8 4pm
Ali is in love with a (possibly psychic) goat, called Nada. Ibrahim works at a recording studio and suffers from terrifying voices in his head. Ali yields to his mother’s wish that he visit a healer’s clinic where he meets Ibrahim.
The healer diagnoses both as ‘cursed’ and prescribes a solution to break the spell: they must throw three stones into Egypt’s three water bodies. Ali, Ibrahim and Nada head off on a picaresque adventure that takes them to the Mediterranean, the Red Sea and the Nile in this touching tale of friendship, reconciliation and self-discovery.
Beauty and the Dogs Sunday 8 Oct, 6.10pm
An innocent night out clubbing with her friends descends into a hellish ordeal for 21-year-old Mariam (Mariam Al Ferjani) in the provocative Beauty and the Dogs.
Focusing on the aftermath of her rape by two policemen, the film unflinchingly depicts the Kafkaesque bureaucracy Mariam is subjected to over the course of one long dark night. The directors present her experiences at the hands of shockingly indifferent doctors, policemen and administrators though a series of long, unbroken shots, displaying great technical virtuosity, whilst lending the material an appropriate air of in-the-moment urgency.