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3 Arab films to discover at the British Film Institute Festival

Only a few weeks to go before the launch of the 61st British Film Institute Festival in London! Starting on 4 October and lasting 10 days, this event will encourage the development of film, television and cinema arts. And this year, the Arab world will be in the spotlight as the international feature films unveiled to the British public include many masterpieces from the Middle East!

This year, the long-awaited event in the cultural and artistic world has decided to present films made between 2019 and 2021, questioning stereotypes while highlighting the lyricism, humanity and poetry of everyday and contemporary Arab life.

Whether fiction, documentary, short or genre-defying, ‘The Time is New’ will bring emerging and important voices of Arab filmmakers, including a number of female directors, to the UK. Here are our favourites! 

See also

5 Arab films to watch at the Oscars

Souad by Egyptian filmmaker Ayten Amin

This is the Egyptian director’s second feature film to launch the event. 

Selected at Cannes in 2020 and at the Berlin and Tribeca Film Festivals this year, this film paints a compelling portrait of the Middle Eastern “generation Z” and deals with identity rivalries and the devastating power of social media for all young people. 

Set in a small town on the Nile Delta in Egypt, and through Souad, a 19 year old teenager, the director has defined and exposed the conflict between the religious and conservative constraints imposed by families and the secret and fantasized life that young people want to project themselves into through social networks.

The Man Who Sold His Skin by Kaouther Ben Hania

One of the five nominees for this year’s Oscars, presented in the Orizzonti section of the 2020 Venice Film Festival and then at the Bordeaux International Independent Film Festival, this film tells the story of a Syrian refugee who decides to let his back become a canvas for a famous tattoo artist in order to succeed in getting to Europe and escape the war in Lebanon. 

By transforming his body into a prestigious work of art and promptly exhibiting it in a museum, the young man comes to understand that his decision was made at the cost of his freedom.

You will die at 20 by Saudi artist Amjad Abu Alala

In this first feature film, and the eighth ever produced in Sudan, Amjad Abu Alala films existence under the weight of beliefs. 

Behind this drama lies the story of Muzamil, a child condemned to live until his 20th birthday according to the prophecy of a religious leader. Between a runaway father and a very religious mother who practically raises him in mourning, a child who decides to live his life as another child…

Through this fatalistic portrait, the artist wanted to bear witness to the weight of traditions, beliefs and superstitions, but also to denounce a society dependent on religion that is opposed to individual freedom

Interested in the event? Just get your tickets now! 

See also

Cannes Festival puts Lebanon in the spotlight

Published on 10 September 2021