2018 ARAB FILM FESTIVAL BRINGS U.S., MICHIGAN PREMIERES OF ARAB WORLD FILMS

Director talkbacks, workshops and special events amplify marginalized voices

Dearborn, Mich. (May 7, 2018) – The Arab Film Festival (AFF) returns to Cinetopia Film Festival May 31 through June 10 with an expanded short films program, director talkbacks, special events and a robust lineup of award-winning feature films from the Arab World. Films will screen in Ann Arbor (Michigan Theater and State Theater) and Dearborn (Arab American National Museum).

Presented by the Arab American National Museum (AANM), this marks the Museum’s 13th AFF and the fourth time AFF has been presented in collaboration with Cinetopia, a seven-year-old film festival featuring a curated selection of films in Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Detroit.

This year’s film program features films from the Arab World that amplify the perspective of marginalized communities — bringing often unheard voices to the forefront and giving a platform to these characters, stories and artists. These films, with few exceptions, are unlikely to reach American commercial theaters and almost all are making their Michigan premieres at AFF.

The lineup includes the U.S. premiere of several titles, including A Certain Nasser, an intimate portrait of Georges Nasser, the ‘grandfather of Lebanese cinema,’ which is paired with the first Lebanese film screened at the Cannes Film Festival, Nasser’s 1957 classic Where to? (June 10).

A critical smash at Cannes this year, Beauty and the Dogs (June 6, 7) tells the story of a young Tunisian woman’s harrowing night in which she must fight for her rights and her dignity. A talkback with The Campaign director Jenny Montasir and Amanda Ajrouche, coordinator of Domestic Violence Prevention at ACCESS, will immediately follow the film.

The short films program, a perennial festival favorite, has expanded this year to include two unique programs of award-winning shorts, all of which will make their Michigan premiere at AFF. The first shorts program focuses on Everyday Heroes from the Arab World(June 8)and the second program, Celebrating Arab Women Filmmakers (June 9),features short films exclusively directed by and starring women.

Interactive programming and special events at this year’s festival include the AFF Opening Reception (June 8), Screenwriting Workshop(June 1-3), a panel discussion, New Reflections on Arab American Representation in the Media (June 9) and an Iftar dinner following the inspiring documentary film Soufrathat follows one woman’s mission to start a food catering business in the Burj el-Barajneh refugee camp in Lebanon (June 9).

All films are presented with English subtitles.

Tickets to all AFF screenings can be purchased at http://cinetopiafestival.org/tickets/, or at the door during the festival, if available. View the full schedule at http://arabamericanmuseum.org/aff18.

The 2018 Arab Film Festival is made possible by the Kresge Foundation, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of its Knight Arts Challenge.

2018 ARAB FILM FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

Friday-Sunday, June 1-3, 2018 @ AANM

Screenwriting Workshop

Led by New York-based filmmaker Darine Hotait, this workshop is designed for those interested in gaining or sharpening screenwriting skills. It focuses on the primary elements of a screenplay: acts structure, character development and scene breakdown. Using various exercises to put all the elements into practice, participants will be guided through the process of developing a simple idea into a three-page screenplay draft. No experience necessary. In AANM’s Ebeid Library & Resource Center.

6-8 p.m. June 1

1-5 p.m. June 2

1-5 p.m. June 3

$25 Museum Members; $30 students; $50 general public

REGISTRATION: http://arabamericanmuseum.org/aff18

FRIDAY, JUNE 1, 2018 @ MICHIGAN THEATER ANN ARBOR

5:45 p.m. Friday, June 1 @ MICHIGAN THEATER ANN ARBOR

also

2 p.m. Saturday, June 9 @ MICHIGAN THEATER ANN ARBOR

1 p.m. Sunday, June 10 @ AANM

This is Home (feature) MICHIGAN PREMIERE

Dir. Alexandra Shiva

2018/Jordan, Syria, USA/91 min./PG 13

For four Syrian families resettling in Baltimore, MD, the clock starts ticking as soon as they arrive. Assistance from the International Rescue Committee assistance ends promptly after eight months, but just four months in, the Trump administration issues the Muslim ban. Suddenly, their lives, and those of all still trapped in Syria, become all the more perilous.

Winner of Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival

“…a timely reminder that humanity knows no borders.”

Screen Daily

SUNDAY, JUNE 3, 2018 @ MICHIGAN THEATER ANN ARBOR

3:45 p.m. Sunday, June 3 @ MICHIGAN THEATER ANN ARBOR

also

4 p.m. Thursday, June 7 @ MICHIGAN THEATRE ANN ARBOR

7:15 p.m. Saturday, June 9 @ AANM + Iftar Dinner

Soufra

Dir. Thomas Morgan

2017/Lebanon/73 min./PG

Soufra follows the inspirational story of intrepid social entrepreneur Mariam Shaar, a refugee who has spent her entire life in the Burl El Barajneh refugee camp south of Beirut. Follow Mariam and a diverse team of fellow refugee women as they set out to change their fate by launching a catering company and a food truck business. Together, they heal the wounds of war through the unifying power of food while taking their future into their own hands.

“A stirring tale of empowerment…shows how societal change can begin with small steps.”

-The New York Times

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6, 2018 @ AANM

6:45 p.m. Wednesday, June 6 @ AANM + discussion

also

9:30 p.m. Thursday, June 7 @ STATE THEATER ANN ARBOR

The Campaign (short) MICHIGAN PREMIERE

Dir. Jenny Montasir

2017/Egypt/17 min.

According to the United Nations, 99% of women in Egypt have experienced harassment. HarassMap, which has been working to combat sexual harassment since 2010, decides to create a major anti-harassment TV campaign. The Campaign follows HarassMap’s journey and challenges including a potentially unresponsive public. Followed by discussion with director Jenny Montasir and Amanda Ajrouche of ACCESS’ Domestic Violence Prevention program.

+

Beauty and the Dogs/Aala Kaf Ifrit (feature) MICHIGAN PREMIERE

Dir. Kaouther Ben Hania

2017/Tunisia/100 min./R

A critical smash at Cannes, this is a gripping moral conundrum featuring two young Tunisians. When Mariam is raped after leaving a party, she is propelled into a harrowing night in which she must fight for her rights and her dignity. Based on a true story, this film tells an urgent, unapologetic and important tale head on.

“A crescendo of humiliation, anxiety and abuse…a horror movie where every choice is a Catch-22 and every door a trap.”

The New York Times

THURSDAY, JUNE 7, 2018 @ AANM; MICHIGAN THEATER + STATE THEATER, ANN ARBOR

4 p.m. Thursday, June 7 @ MICHIGAN THEATRE ANN ARBOR

Soufra

Dir. Thomas Morgan

2017/Lebanon/73 min./PG

See description 3:45 p.m. Sunday, June 3

6 p.m. Thursday, June 7 @ AANM

Wajib MICHIGAN PREMIERE

Dir. Annemarie Jacir

2017/Palestine/96 min./PG 13

After years abroad in Italy, Shadi (Saleh Bakri) returns to his hometown of Nazareth to begrudgingly hand-deliver invitations to his sister’s wedding, with this father, Abu Shadi (Mohammad Bakri), per local Palestinian tradition. Directed by the brilliant Annemarie Jacir and with the talent of Saleh and Mohammad Bakri (father and son both onscreen and off), Wajib is a powerful yet subtle look into the complexities of tradition, power and family.

Palestine’s official entry in the 2018 Academy Awards; winner of Muhr Award for Best Fiction Feature Film & Best Actor at Dubai IFF.

“An intimate, well-played disquisition on what it means to be a Palestinian abroad versus a Palestinian at home.”

-Variety

9:30 p.m. Thursday, June 7 @ STATE THEATER ANN ARBOR

and

6:45 p.m. Wednesday, June 6 @ AANM

Beauty and the Dogs/Aala Kaf Ifrit (feature) MICHIGAN PREMIERE

Dir. Kaouther Ben Hania

2017/Tunisia/100 min./R

See description 6:45 p.m. June 6

FRIDAY, JUNE 8, 2018 @ AANM

4:30 p.m. Friday, June 8 @ AANM

Mr. Gay Syria MICHIGAN PREMIERE

Dir. Ayse Toprak

2017/Syria, Turkey/84 min./PG 13

Mr. Gay Syria gives us an intimate look into the complex lives of several gay Syrian refugees living in Istanbul. Mahmoud, founder of Syria’s LGBTQ movement; Husein, a barber; and Omar, a love-struck chef, all dream of Syrian representation and awareness of their situation at the Mr. Gay World competition. Battling multiple factors, including a conservative society and the refugee crisis, will they reach their dreams or be shattered by the harsh reality of their surroundings?

Silver Hugo Award for Best Documentary at Chicago IFF

“The instances of oppression and homophobia are outnumbered by scenes depicting matter-of-factly the lives of these resilient men.”

The Guardian

6:45 p.m. Friday, June 8 @ AANM

Everyday Heroes (shorts)

98 min./films rated PG, PG 13 and R

These short films feature the unlikely individuals who raise their voices, keep us safe and give us hope. Several are Michigan or U.S. premieres.

Language/Lugha

Dir. Mortada Gzar

2017/Iraq/12 min./PG

Last Days of the Man of Tomorrow/ Akher Ayam Rajoul El Ghad

Dir. Fadi Baki

2017/Lebanon, Germany/29 min./R

Caravan

Dir. Suzanne Mirghani

2016/Qatar/6 min./PG

Sabeya

Dir. Dhyaa Joda

2017/Iraq/17 min./PG 13

Silence/Samt

Dir. Chadi Aoun

2017/Lebanon/15 min./PG 13

The President’s Visit

Dir. Cyril Aris

2017/Lebanon/19 min./PG 13

9-11 p.m. Friday, June 8 @ AANM

AFF Reception

Includes refreshments, music, dancing, networking under the stars on AANM’s rooftop terrace. Free and open to the public.

SATURDAY, JUNE 9, 2018 @ AANM + MICHIGAN THEATER ANN ARBOR

11 a.m. Saturday, June 9 @ AANM

Nile Hilton Incident

Dir. Tarik Saleh

2017/Egypt, Sweden, Denmark, Germany/107 min./R

A political thriller based on a true story. Weeks before the 2011 Egyptian revolution, a police officer in Cairo’s corrupt system investigates the murder of a famous club singer at the Nile Hilton Hotel. What initially seems to be a crime of passion turns into something that concerns the power elite of Egypt. The officer decides to break the rules to obtain justice, colliding not only with the system but also with himself.

Winner – Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival

“…transplants the dark, cynical heart of film noir to the streets of Cairo.”

Variety

2 p.m. Saturday, June 9 @ AANM

Celebrating Arab Women Filmmakers (shorts)

91 min.

Shorts directed by established Arab and Arab American women, each with a strong female lead.

Aya

Dir. Moufida Fedhila

2017/Tunisia/24 min./PG 13

Unspoken

Dir. Samia Badih

2017/UAE/11 min./PG 13

In White

Dir. Dania Bdeir

2017/Lebanon/18 min./PG

Lollipop/Halawa

Dir. Hanaa Saleh Alfassi

2017/Saudi Arabia, Morocco, UAE, USA/13 min./PG 13

Like Salt

Dir. Darine Hotait

2018/USA/25 min./PG 13

2 p.m. Saturday, June 9 @ MICHIGAN THEATER ANN ARBOR

also

1 p.m. Sunday, June 10 @ AANM

This is Home (feature) MICHIGAN PREMIERE

Dir. Alexandra Shiva

2018/Jordan, Syria, USA/91 min./PG 13

For four Syrian families resettling in Baltimore, MD, the clock starts ticking as soon as they arrive. Assistance from the International Rescue Committee assistance ends promptly after eight months, but just four months in, the Trump administration issues the Muslim ban. Suddenly, their lives, and those of all still trapped in Syria, become all the more perilous.

Winner of Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival

“…a timely reminder that humanity knows no borders.”

Screen Daily

4:30-6 p.m. Saturday, June 9 @ AANM

New Reflections on Arab American Representation in Media (panel discussion)

The Arab American struggle to receive accurate representation in film, television and other media is as old as the mediums themselves. Join talented artists, media creators and filmmakers who have taken matters into their own hands to discuss pressing questions: Whom are we bringing to the table to represent the robust and diverse Arab American community? What are the new, unique challenges facing Arab American media producers today? What successes can inspire us? Panelists include Ali Abbas, Maha Chehlaoui and Darine Hotait. Free and open to the public.

7:15 p.m. Saturday, June 9 @ AANM

Soufra

Dir. Thomas Morgan

2017/Lebanon/73 min./PG

+ Iftar Dinner + talkback

See description 3:45 p.m. Sunday, June 3. This screening includes a post-film iftar dinner and talkback.

SUNDAY, JUNE 10, 2018 @ AANM + MICHIGAN THEATER ANN ARBOR

1 p.m. Sunday, June 10 @ AANM

The Dead Die Once (short) WORLD PREMIERE

Dir. Max McGillivray, Alex Morelli

2018/USA/9 min.

After settling into her new life in America, a Syrian refugee receives a visit from her past. Based on a story by Syrian writer and refugee Jehan Sayed Issa.

+

This is Home (feature) MICHIGAN PREMIERE

Dir. Alexandra Shiva

2018/Jordan, Syria, USA/91 min./PG 13

+ panel discussion

See description 2 p.m. Saturday, June 9 @ MICHIGAN THEATER ANN ARBOR. This screening includes a panel discussion.

3:30 p.m. Sunday, June 10 @ AANM

Borders Crossed

Dir. Firas Allouch

2017/Lebanon, USA/7 min./G

Using the awesome power of virtual reality, an elderly Arab American visits his hometown in Lebanon from the comfort of his front porch. The director will introduce his film.

+

Where To?/Ila Ayn? NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

Dir. Georges Nasser

1957/Lebanon/81 min.

The first Lebanese film entered in the Cannes Film Festival and directed by the grandfather of Lebanese film, Where To? tells the story of a poor family living in a village in the Lebanese mountains, barely able to make ends meet. Wanting to make a better life for his family, the father leaves for Brazil, never to be heard from again. The mother raises her two sons to the best of her ability. As the boys grow up and decide which paths in life to take, a mysterious man arrives in the village.

+

A Certain Nasser/Un Certain Nasser NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

Dir. Antoine Waked, Badih Massaad

2017/Lebanon/65 min./PG

An intimate portrait of pioneering Lebanese filmmaker Georges Nasser, the grandfather of Lebanese cinema who directed some of Lebanon’s biggest films before there was a film industry in the country. Nasser discusses his three biggest works in great detail and gives the audience a unique look at the struggles and triumphs of filmmaking in the 1950s and 1960s.

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