In the Western media the Arab world has been present since years. It seems already somewhat familiar. What we know about the region though is reduced to the newsworthy sectors. In cinema or TV Arab films can be seen only on rare occasions. What kind of films do Arab directors make? And what defines their works as Arab? Or as Egyptian? Or Lebanese?
Film series or short film evenings allow to deal with a country or a subject matter in a more comprehensive way and to question patterns of imagining the Arab World. By order of festivals, educational or cultural organizations I curate film programs. They can consist of short films and last only one evening, comprise different film genres and take place over some days or at regular dates over a longer period of time.
Here you find examples focusing on programs that have online references in English or Arabic. In the German version of this page the examples are far more exhaustive.
Loneliness / Unity
Aflamuna online 2022
Many posters of Arab arthouse films of the past ten years show someone from behind or leaving, sometimes looking away. In rare cases where a character is looking at the camera there is still a distance, be it created by a curtain or by the person standing far afield. When the films show in Europe, the programmers usually do not use these posters. They look for a film still with the protagonist making eye contact with the viewer as is custom for the promotion of Western movies. As a distributor of several of these films, I first found this disturbing. Don’t programmers see that the person needs protection? At the same time, didn’t the director make the film to connect with the world? Looking at older Arab film-posters, it appears that protagonists of films dealing with loneliness are less hidden. What role does loneliness play in Arab cinema, and how did it change over time? continue in English | Arabic
Glow of Memory. Retrospective of German Palestinian Coproductions
Zeughauskino in the Museum of German History Berlin 2015
The retrospective Glow of Memory gives an insight into the cooperation in the field of film between the Palestinian Liberation Organization PLO (founded 1964) and both German States. Continue in German at Zeughauskino | Program Booklet in Arabic and German (PDF)
Glow of Memory - Days of Cinema Ramallah / Bethlehem / Jerusalem - Palestine 2016
Program with the three West German film-makers who realized films with the PLO and were part of the program in Zeughauskino in Berlin.
Glow of Memory - Beirut Cinema Days / Lebanon 2017
In the framework of the program section Cinema of Exile as selection of films from Glow of Memory.
Filmweek: Focus Gaza
Filmstadt Munich / Germany 2015
In summer 2014 the news were dominated by the Gaza-war. Again. Since at least 3000 years Gaza is fought over. Since the beginning off lm history in the late 1890s moving images of the place have been dealing with war. Normally the images were recorded by the conquerors or other outsiders. What do they see in Gaza? How do they record the life in the coastal strip? Which stories do those living there tell?
program booklet online (in German)
Viva Palästina – Palestinian Insights
Palestine Days Munich / Germany 2014
Short films by Palestinian directors with introductions by Irit Neidhardt, mec film, Berlin and followed by discussion. The selected films are documents of a Palestinian film history in which the political development is mirrored: from utopia to dystopia. From the initial hopes after the PLO’s founding years in the late 1960s, via the realism of the later years, accounting with the promises of revolutionary cinema to the still stand of the present, reflected on in Sci-Fi. More (in German)
STORM! A Journey in Eight Mass Movements Through the Short 20th Century / the slot PLO
Retrospective: STORM! A Journey in Eight Mass Movements Through the Short 20th Century
Curator: Olaf Möller, Curator of the PLO slot: Irit Neidhardt; DOK.Leipzig / Germany 2013
Another anniversary: Since 1973 a PLO delegation attended the International Documentary- and Short Film Week every year. No other liberation movement and no young nation state were represented at the festival with their own productions as continuously as the PLO. Leipzig became an important platform for the cultural policy of the PLO – for years festival visitors could track the Palestinian struggle for liberation. Additionally from 1973 till 1982 the PLO awarded an own film prize at the festival. Irit Neidhardt is preparing an in-depth research about this part of international film history that is by now surrounded by myth. In this program she is presenting three films of the PLO cinema which were shown in Leipzig.
- Laysa lahum wujud / They Do Not Exist (PLO 1974; Mustafa Abu Ali)
- Watan al-Aslak al-Shaieka / Land of Barbed Wire (PLO 1980; Kais al-Zubaidi), in the presence of the director
- Born out of Death / Wulidtu min al-mawt (PLO 1981; Monica Maurer), in the presence of the director
films | photos
To Render the Own Gaze Inhabitable. Crisis and Departure in the Middle East, the film program
Curator: Aenne Quiñones, Curator film programm: Irit Neidhardt, Hebbel am Ufer Berlin / Germany 2013
Etel Adnan (*1925), the “grande dame of Middle Eastern literature,” is one of the great political artists of our time. Her work is pervaded with the past and present of colonialism, the destructive force of which can be seen in the Middle East to this day.
The uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have been dubbed the Arab Spring by western media, and have entered our consciousness as so-called Facebook revolutions. There was interest – for a brief period – mostly in young people. But the best-agers from Tahrir Square and in the innumerable assemblies, action groups, and commissions remained largely unmentioned. Continue
What’s going on? Country Focus: the Arab World
Dortmund | Cologne International Women’s Film Festival / Germany 2012
Curated by Irit Neidhardt, Betty Schiel and Sonja Hofmann
The Country Focus section at the film festival acts as a showcase for the cinematic oeuvre of women directors working in a given region. A year after the Arab Spring, the festival is pleased to organise an encounter with women film-makers based in North Africa and the Middle East whose films were made before the actual uprisings. The women's multi-layered and imaginative analyses of their societies from within offer an intriguing look at areas of conflict and levels of contradiction in the Arab world. What stories do the Arab film-makers have to tell and what are the female characters like? Continue in English
Banned and Popular: the Egyptian films
In the program Banned and Popular the Egyptian films, dOCUMENTA (13) Kassel / Germany 2012
This part of the dOCUMENTA (13) film program pairs a film banned, censored or unauthorized by its own country of origin with a film from the same time and place that achieved local acclaim, either via box-office success or through the winning of popular awards and nominations. Continue
FILM: Egypt - Popular: Al-Irhab Wal-Kabab (Terrorism and Kebab) Continue
FILM: Egypt - Banned: Al-Mohager (The Emigrant) Continue
Conflict Alt ESC. News from Bagdhad, Beirut, Jaffa & Kairo
Curator „Conflict Alt Esc“: Matthias Lilienthal; Curator of the film and discourse program: Irit Neidhardt, Hebbel am Ufer (HAU) Berlin / Germany 2011
The attention on the revolution in Cairo has waned. The Euro-crisis has pushed everything aside, we are now back to our everyday routine. Mubarak is no longer in office, but the power structures have not really changed. There have been revolts in Madrid and London, too: While in the case of London one only spoke of the “mob”, a different view of the events has evolved, and now all of a sudden the revolts point to the background of an overall lost generation.
The focus “Conflict Alt Esc” will be inaugurated with the production “Irakese Geesten/Irakische Geister” by Mokhallad Rasem (02 and 03 November). “Without the war I could not be in this show. Thanks to the war. Without the war I could not make you applaud in the end…thanks to the war.” Continue
Before the Storm. Independent Arab Film
Curator Arab Shorts: Marcel Schwierin, curator of the feature length film section: Independent Egyptian Film – Independent from What?: Irit Neidhardt, Arsenal Institut für Film und Videokunst / Germany 2011
The "Before the Storm" series focuses on independent cinema from Arab countries. Over six different evenings, the Goethe Institute will be presenting insights into the period before the "Arab Spring", showing both features and shorts about societies in the "waiting room of time".
Independent Egyptian Film – Independent from What?
Egypt is a regional power, taking a leading role in the Arab world both politically and with respect to the entertainment industry. In 1925, an important businessman had already opened the Egyptian Society for Acting and Cinemas as one of his bank's many investment sectors. This established two of the central elements of Egyptian film: its commercial character and its preeminence in the Arab region, much of which was still under colonial rule at the time. The mainstay of this Hollywood on the Nile, which was conceived as a deliberate imitation of its American counterpart, has always been the stars. They represent the risk capital of film, which is then paid back in full at the box office. This has given rise to mass-market compatible escapist works, which do not shy away from controversial issues, usually related to love, within the darkness of the cinema auditorium and in hermetically sealed cinematic textures. Continue
Forum of Berlinale 2011 (ad hoc program following Mubarak's resignation in Egypt)
A moderated program of short-films, trailers and video-letters by independent film-makers from Egypt
The current uprisings in North Africa took many by surprise. Since weeks the upheaval in Egypt dominates the news, the urgency and tremendous energy expressed by millions of Egyptians on a daily basis finds little echo in Europe though. Until a few weeks ago Tunisia and Egypt were seen as stable countries from a Western point of view. Their dictators were reliable partners to European and USA governments and their landscapes are invitingly beautiful tourist destinations. Continue Press Release (PDF) | Program Leaflet (PDF)
ART Lounge: Melting Pot Beirut
Körber Stiftung Hamburg / Germany 2010
At the ART Lounge Lebanon, film curator Irit Neidhardt introduces three short films by Sabine ElChamaa, Lina Gheibeh and Carlos Chahine. Moreover photos by Dalia Khamissy and an artist talk with the photographer. More
Focus on recent independent Arab Film-making (film program and TV conference)
Days of Independent Film Augsburg / Germany 2007
Focus on new independent film-making in the Arab World see program online
Current Affairs and Culture in Arab News Stations. Conference on Arab TV
The conference introduces issues of Arab TV on a general basis and looks into concrete examples of current affairs and cultural programmes produced for and broadcast by the two transnational news-stations. Continue