Alwan Film Festival

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Date/Time: 14/04/2006 12:00 am

Alwan for the Arts presents:
2006 Alwan Film Festival
April 14- April 23
$10/ Screening
Friday, April 14 – Anthology Film Archives
6:30 PM Pasolini Pa*Palestine Ayreen Anastas / Palestine / 2005 /
51 min / Mini-DV US Premiere (Director Expected to Attend)
Pasolini Pa* Palestine retraces Pasolini’s trip to Palestine seeking
locations for his 1963 film “The Gospel According to Matthew.” It
uses his script as a route map and superimposes on the current
landscape, creating contradictions and breaks between the visual and
the audible, the expected and the real. The video explores the
question of repetition. For Heidegger Wiederholung “repetition,
retrieval,” is one of the terms he uses for the appropriate attitude
towards the past. “By the Wiederholung of a basic problem we
understand the disclosure of its original, so far hidden
possibilities.” The project proposes a conversation and a
dialogue with Passolini, especially his “Poem for the Third World,”
remembering that discutere “to smash to pieces” is the Latin root of
dialogue, discussion. The piece does not criticize Pasolini, but
reveals unnoticed possibilities in his thought and works back to the
“experiences” that inspired it. In Arabic w/English S/T
Followed by:
A New Day in Old Sana’a Bader Ben Hirsi / Yemen / 2005 / 86 min /
35mm NY Premiere (Director Expected to Attend)
In this highly romantic tale, Tariq, the handsome young son of a
wealthy and respected aristocrat, is about to marry the naive Bilqis,
eldest daughter of a prominent and powerful judge. Although they have
never met, the match seems ideal and both families are overjoyed. But
when Tariq is wandering the streets late one night, he spots a
beautiful young woman wearing the lovely white dress he’d sent his
fiancée as a gift. He falls madly in love with her, assuming
she is his betrothed. But things are not quite what they seem and
soon the young groom finds himself having to make the devastating
choice between following his heart and protecting his family’s honor.
Hailed as the first feature from Yemen, this beautifully photographed
film uses the ancient city of Sana’a as its exquisite setting. Winner
of the Best Film Award at the Cairo International Film Festival. In
Arabic w/ English S/T
9:30 PM Zaina, Rider of the Atlas Bourlem Guerdjou / France /
Morocco / Algeria / 2005 / 100 min / 35mm
A winner at the Locarno International Film Festival, this mixture of
fairytale and high adventure set in the mountains of Morocco starts
with the funeral of Selma, mother of 11-year-old Zaina. Previously,
Selma had won a horse race forcing her husband Mustapha to disown
her; and, when passing through town on his way to the latest race, he
is confronted by the daughter he never knew. When Overlord Omar
el-Mansour demands custody of Zaina, Mustapha flees toward Marrakesh
gradually bonding with his daughter whilst being pursued by the evil
Omar. In Arabic and French w/ English S/T
Saturday, April 15 – Anthology Film Archives
3:00 PM Zozo Josef Fares / Lebanon / Sweden / 2005 / 103 min / 35mm
Despite the increased shelling in his hometown, life seems normal for
ten-year-old Zozo. It’s 1987 and civil war is raging in Beirut. Any
day now the proper papers will arrive for his family to leave Lebanon
and join his grandparents in Sweden. But the day the papers arrive,
Zozo’s story becomes one of survival and coming-of-age under
extraordinary circumstances. With little but his wits and his
family’s passports, Zozo makes his way to the airport. Along
the way, he befriends a chick who talks to him and a girl who
distracts him in a fantasy-like world. The likelihood of Zozo making
it out of the country is slim. “Zozo” is partly autobiographical:
Fares was born in Lebanon and moved to Sweden when he was ten. In
Arabic and Swedish w/ English S/T
5:00 PM Passion Mohamed Malas / Syria / 2005 / 98 min / 35mm NY
When her husband Adnan takes a second job as a cab driver, Iman
discovers a new love for the music of legendary Egyptian singer Umm
Kulthum. As her infatuation grows, so does her affection for those
around her, including her three children and her husband of ten
years, who becomes increasingly alarmed that something has changed in
his wife. After consulting with his male relatives, Adnan concludes
that she must in love with another man. The men meet to decide
Iman’s fate. Based on a true incident, director Mohamed Malas’
riveting new feature examines in meticulous detail the circumstances
surrounding crimes of passion and the devastation they inflict on
everyone involved. In Arabic w/English S/T
7:00 PM Waiting Rashid Masharawi / France / Palestine / 2005 / 130
min /
35mm NY Premiere
Ahmad accepts to audition actors for a project financed by the
European Union at the National Palestinian Theatre. He searches for
talent amongst the numerous refugee camps in Jordan, Syria and
Lebanon. He feels more and more that the destiny of these waiting
refugees is much the same as his own. He asks the actors to act out
what best embodies the destiny of their people, his own destiny,
waiting. In Arabic w/English S/T
9:30 PM Sex and Philosophy Mohsen Makhmalbaf / France / Iran/
Tajikstan /
2005 / 105 min / 35mm US Premiere
On his fortieth birthday, a man decides to precipitate a life crisis
by introducing his numerous mistresses to each other. The women are
shocked to discover that they have been romantically involved with
the same man. Total honesty is the only answer. One by one the
beginning of each affair is reviewed. The man and his lovers discuss
passion, possession, and time. How love blossoms from even the
smallest seed. He gives each woman a parting gift — a stopwatch
–and asks them to measure each minute of true love that they
experience. The women leave. The man is alone. Later, the fourth
woman calls him and they arrange to meet at her house, where he finds
the tables turned: he is now one of four lovers. Unable to handle the
new situation, the men argue and depart. The man is left alone again.
In Tajik w/ English S/T
Sunday, April 16 – Anthology Film Archives
3:00 PM Bab el Web Merzak Allouache / Algeria / 2004 / 99 min / 35mm
NY Premiere
Two bickering brothers, a French ingenue who is more than she ppears,
a lowlife gangster who bets on illicit ram fights, and a local
ccentric with an uncanny knack for being hit by automobiles. Anything
can happen in Algiers’ Bab el-Oued district of the Casbah, and it
often does. The action starts when a local vendor, known on the
Internet as atrix, invites his electronic chat room partner, a young
woman living in Paris, to visit him in the heart of Algiers. To his
surprise Laurence accepts, leaving him only days to prepare for her
arrival – including finding a way to get his mother and sister
out of the house for a week. He solicits his brother to raise money
to execute his scheme, but things get complicated when his guest
arrives from the north. This film is simultaneously comedy, drama,
and a compelling portrait of life in Algeria.
Outstanding acting performances and steady directing balance humor
with the tough realities of Algerian life. In Arabic and French
w/English S/
5:00 PM Tarfaya Daoud Aoulad Syad / Morocco / France / 2004 / 97 min
35mm NY Premiere
The beautifully shot, hypnotically-paced Tarfaya focuses on the
torment of North African immigrants trying to slip into Europe.
Miriam (Touria Alaoui) arrives in Tarfaya looking for the smuggler
who is supposed to ferry her to Spain. But those seeking clandestine
passage are always vulnerable, and everyone she meets seems
duplicitous and deceitful. What little money she has is stolen, and
help from the police chief (Mohamed Majd) comes at its own price.
Miriam is courted by Hassan (Mohamed Bastaoui), but blinded by the
mirage of a better life on “The
Continent,” she spurns him. Like all those seeking safe passage, she
will have to learn that much more than an expanse of water separates
the Moroccan sea port from Europe. In Arabic w/English S/T
7:00 PM Pakistan’s Double Game Sharmeen Obaid / Pakistan / 2005 / 24
min / DigiBeta
Pakistan is a frontline state in America’s war against terrorism.
September 2001, Pakistan has arrested top Al Qaeda operatives and has
launched a drive to eradicate terrorism from its soil. Reporter
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy travels across her native country of Pakistan
to gauge the reactions of ordinary citizens who feel that their
president is selling out to the west.
Followed by:
Zaman: The Man from the Reeds Amer Alwan / Iraq / 2003 / 76 min /
NY Premiere
Zaman and his wife, Najma, have built their happy life together in
their house of reeds and, though childless, adopted a boy, Yacine who
was orphaned by the 1991 Gulf War. They have lived a quiet, contented
existence until Najma falls ill. The local doctor tells them she
needs surgery or some special medicine he does not have. And so Zaman
sets off in his small boat and journeys out of the Marshes to Baghdad
in search of the precious cure. Thus begins the journey of salvation
and discovery for “Zaman, the Man from the Reeds.” This sweet and sad
story about love and devotion, hope and fear is the first film from
Iraq in fifteen years. In Arabic w/ English S/T
9:30 PM Downtown Girls Mohamed Khan / Egypt / 2005 / 92 min / 35mm
US Premiere
Menna Shalaby and Hend Sabry are Banat West El-Balad (Downtown Girls)
in Mohamed Khan’s return to mainstream cinema. In this tale about
marginalized Egyptians, Shalaby plays Yasmine, a hairdresser who
works in a downtown beauty shop. While taking the subway, she meets
Joumana (Sabry), who works around the corner, and the two instantly
become close friends. The problem is that Yasmine is a pathological
liar who can’t tell the truth about her work or family even to her
shy boyfriend Samir, played by Khaled Abul-Naga. In Arabic w/ English
Monday, April 17 – Anthology Film Archives
7:00 PM The Miseducation of Pakistan Sayid Ali Nasir / Pakistan / 30
min / DVD US Premiere
This short film offers a controversial probe into the corruption and
nepotism of the education system in Pakistan. In Urdu w/ English S/T
Followed by:
The Gaze Nour-Eddine Lakhmari / Morocco / Norway / 2005 / 87 min /
NY Premiere
Preparing a retrospective at a fashionable gallery, 70-year-old Tueis
realizes that something is missing in the exhibition. He returns to
Morocco where as a 19-year-old soldier and photographer for the
French army, he witnessed atrocities committed by the troops. He took
photos, but has never before dared to publish them. “Le Regard” is
primarily a journey in the landscape of one person’s guilt, passivity
and powerlessness, touching all those involved: Aida in Morocco, with
a son born out of wedlock; Reda, who has wasted away his life; the
villagers, who accept a salary from the factory which is slowly
killing them; the French soldiers, who first committed and later
concealed their crimes; and especially Albert, who ultimately failed
to perform his moral duty. In Arabic and French w/ English S/T
9:30 PM Earth and Ashes Atiq Rahimi Afghanistan / France / 2004 / 103
min / 35mm NY Premiere
Dastaguir sits on the side of the road, his young grandson, Yassin,
at his side. A desolate Afghan landscape stretches out around him – a
half-demolished bridge, a dry riverbed below and a dusty road that
reaches its vanishing point on the horizon. That road leads to a
far-off coalmine, Dastaguir’s dreaded destination. He is on a painful
journey to see his son, the child’s father, who works in the mine. He
must tell him that their village has been bombed and his entire
family killed. The old man is torn between his own remorse, his
unbearable solitude and codes of honor deeply engrained in the Afghan
soul. As he struggles with so many conflicting emotions, Dastaguir
encounters several strangers along the way. There’s the sentry house
guard, the philosophical roadside merchant, the mysterious veiled
woman who waits endlessly, and other victims of this nameless war
that goes on somewhere off-screen. In Pashtu w/ English S/T
Tuesday, April 18 – Anthology Film Archives
7:00 PM Yasmin’s Song Najwa Najjar / Palestine / 2006 /19 min /
US Premiere
Ziyad is a young Palestinian man who sells flowers in the nearby
village. He is in love with Yasmine, a young Palestinian girl from
the village. At night they meet in secret away from eyes of
disapproving villagers; and while Yasmine’s parents are busy
arranging her future, an unexpected happening changes everyone’s
lives. In Arabic w/English S/T
Followed by:
State of Love Saad Hendawi / Egypt / 2005 / 90 min / 35 mm US
(Director Expected to Attend)
A box-office hit in its native Egypt, “State of Love” is a post 9/11
love story looking at Arabs in the West, and is a successful
depiction of the dilemmas and challenges facing a generation all too
often lost in translation amidst all the talk of dialogues between
two civilizations. In Arabic w/ English S/T
9:30 PM Lust Sayid Ali Nasir / Pakistan / 3 min / DVD US Premiere
A chilling confession by Pakistan’s most notorious serial killer and
pedophile over a collage of stills give a glimpse into the man’s life
in Lahore.
Pariah Sehban Zaidi / USA / Pakistan / 2004 / 13 min/ Mini-DV
US Premiere
A US soldier stumbles on a Pakistani man in a frozen tundra. The two
lost men and their interactions symbolize the state of the world.
Followed by:
Ahlaam Mohamed Al-Daradji / Iraq / United Kingdom / Netherlands / 108
min / 35mm (Director Expected to Attend)
Set one day before and after the fall of Baghdad, ‘ahlaam’ (the
dream) tells the story of a young girl brutally damaged at the hands
of the regime and her experiences of the chaos and wonder of
post-Saddam Iraq. Ahlaam is confined to a mental institute after
witnessing the violent arrest of her soon-to-be husband on their
wedding day and lives her confined existence in a state of delusion
and abuse. After her hospital is destroyed by a bomb, she is
liberated and roams the streets and rubble at the mercy of looting
crowds and opportunists. All the while, her family with help from a
young doctor from the mental institute, seek the escaped patient
amidst the turmoil of a city in anarchy. In Arabic w/English S/T
Wednesday, April 19 – Tribeca Cinemas
6:30 PM Your Dark Hair Ihsan Tala Hadid / USA / Morocco / 2005 / 13
min / Beta
A man returns to his native city to rediscover his past and themother
he lost as a child. In Arabic w/English S/T
Marjoun and the Flying Headscarf Susan Youssef / USA / 2005 / 10 min
/ Beta
An Arab-American girl must come to terms with her sexuality while
balancing the mores of two different cultures. The narrative explores
veiling, spirituality, and domestic violence.
Followed by:
Heads and Tails Kamla Abu Zikri / Egypt / 2005 / 86 min / 35mm US
Helmed by Kamla Abou-Zekry, Heads and Tails stars Hend Sabry who
appears as a girl called Hend. She dreams of becoming a star and ends
up falling in love with her tough acting coach, played by Mahmoud
Hemeida. The latter is still recovering from the discovery of his
wife’s infidelity. In Arabic w/ English S/T
9:00 PM Where To Karim Fanous / Egypt / US / 2005 / 12 min / DVD
A middle-aged New York cab driver from Egypt picks up a fellow
Egyptian, arriving in the city for the first time in pursuit of the
“American Dream.” They have a conversation that will help each
of them come to a realization about their life choices. In Arabic
w/English S/T
Followed by:
The Sleeping Child Yasmine Kasseri / Belgium / Morocco / 2005 / 95
min / 35mm
NY Premiere
A day after their wedding in the countryside of north-eastern
Morocco, a young bride, Zainab is left alone by her husband as he
joins his country-men to work clandestinely in Europe. Zainab
discovers that she is pregnant. Not wanting her baby to be born
before her husband’s return, she prolongs pregnancy. Time
passes; her husband does not return. In French, Berber, and Arabic w/
English S/T
Thursday, April 20 – Tribeca Cinemas
6:30 PM Under the Ceiling Nidal El Dibs / Syria / 2005 / 95 min /
NY Premiere (Mohamed Al-Ahmed, President of the Syrian Film
Organization, Expected to Attend)
Marwan shares his Damascus apartment with his friend, an author, who
dies beneath the apartment’s leaky ceiling. Beneath that same
ceiling, the day before, Marwan’s love for the author’s young wife
Lina came to life. Now that Lina’s husband is gone, she and Marwan
begin making plans for their own future, only to find that the past
is difficult to overcome. Events of long ago interrupt the couple’s
present hopes as a stream of friends and relatives wander into the
apartment. Unsuccessful at their attempts to re-invent time, Lina and
Marwan remain trapped under the apartment ceiling. With a challenging
chronological randomness and a largely atmospheric feel, “Under the
Ceiling” marks an impressive writing and directorial debut for
Nidal al-Dibs. In Arabic w/English S/T
8:30 PM We Are All Fine Bijan Mirbagheri / Iran / 2005 / 90 min /
NY Premiere
Director Bijan Mirbagheri seems to have taken a cue from American
independents in this tale of a dysfunctional, middle-class family
whose private animosities explode when a video camera comes into
their midst. Oldest son Jamshid has been abroad for six years,
leaving his parents, siblings, wife and young daughter adrift. When
Jamshid sends word that he would like his family to prepare a video
tape for him, their initial attempts at cheer soon devolve into
bitter arguments and secret confessions. Dexterous cutting between
video and 35mm as well as a powerful ensemble cast fuel this moving
exploration of the consequences of emigration for the people left
behind. In Farsi w/English S/T
Friday, April 21 – Tribeca Cinemas
6:00 PM When All Were Asleep Fereydoun Hasanpour / Iran / 2006 / 84
min / 35mm US Premiere
After waiting for so many years, Bibi Salimeh, the village’s midwife,
is getting ready for her pilgrimage to Mecca. But as she is bidding
the villagers farewell, the bad news arrives that she is not allowed
to go. No one wants to tell her, except two children who decide to
take her on a picturesque voyage to realize her dream. In Farsi
w/English S/T
8:00 PM Yasmin Kenny Glenaan / United Kingdom / Pakistan / 2004 /
87 min / 35mm
Scripted by Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty, The Darkest Light) after
months of research and workshops with the Muslim community in the
North of England, Yasmin’s story explores what it means to be Asian,
Muslim and British. Having rebelled against her Pakistani upbringing
as a teenager, the sparkly, confident Yasmin (Archie Panjabi of Bend
It Like Beckham) has grown adept at juggling her Westernized working
and social life with her more traditional culture at home. But after
the attacks of 9/11 she finds herself ostracized at work, and
increasingly subject to overt Islamophobia. When her husband is
snatched by the police and held without charge, she finds herself
forced to re-evaluate her faith, her culture and her relationships.
The harsh realities of prejudice and discrimination in a climate of
poverty and fear are never trivialized, but are treated with a
refreshing degree of humor, irony, and understatement.
8:30 PM Dinner Gala – Alwan
Saturday, April 22 – NYU Cantor Film Center
2:30 PM Bosta Philippe Aractingi / Lebanon / 2005 / 142 min / 35mm
“Bosta” (the name of a bus) features some of the most popular actors,
dancers, and choreographers in the Arab world. It is the first
post-war Lebanese musical with contemporary Middle East, and more
precisely Lebanese rhythms, such as the Debke dance, which is at the
foreground of Lebanese national folklore. It is also the first film
to be funded entirely by private Lebanese investors, representing a
breakthrough in terms of production, because Lebanese films, as in
many Middle East and African countries, rely on western cultural
funds. The music of “Bosta” has also been a great challenge. It joins
the talents of local composers, such as Ali el Khatib, and the Afro
Celt Sound System, a British group from Peter Gabriel’s label “Real
World”. Such collaboration is the first in a local film production.
In Arabic w/English S/T
5:30 PM Gazelle’s Blood Mohamed Yasin / Egypt / 2005 / 110 min / 35
World Premiere (Lead Actress Youssra Expected to Attend)
Written and produced by the acclaimed Wahid Hamed and directed by
Mohammed Yasin, this drama gathers Mona Zaki with veteran stars Nour
El-Sherif and Youssra. The film offers portraits of characters from a
cross-section of Egyptian society and traces the roots of social
upheaval by shedding light on the reasons that drive an unemployed
young man (Amr Waked) to join a radical organization. El-Sherif plays
the role of ex-con artist Gaber, who tries to pay his dues by helping
poor people, while Youssra depicts an aristocratic woman isolated
from the problems of the quotidien. In Arabic w/ English S/T
8:00 PM Public Relations Samir Zikra / Syria / 2005 / 140 min / 35mm
World Premiere (Director Expected to Attend)
A special relationship between a woman and two men: the woman is a
tourist guide who takes tourist groups from different countries to
Syria’s archaeological sites. One of the two men is an
influential businessman who is secretly married to the tourist guide
and wants her to get an abortion. The other man is the one whom the
guide has met during one of her tours. She falls in love with him as
he appears witty, modest, and friendly. But she later finds out that
he is only a caricature image of her secret businessman husband. This
special relationship between the woman and the two men highlights
privacy in our society and its contradictions, the interaction of
interests and passions, producing a special ambience which controls
the action and movements of the characters. In Arabic w/ English S/T
Sunday, April 23 – NYU Cantor Film Center
2:00 Since We Left Mohamed Bakri / Palestine / 2005 / 58 min / Beta
US Premiere (Director Expected to Attend)
A docu-drama that is at once biographical and political recounting
through interviews and footage (including very rare and personal ones
of Emil Habibi) that go back 30 years, the travails and hardships,
dreams and hopes that engross the Palestinian filmmaker, Mohammed
Bakri. This film essay moves between life amidst the conflict in his
own land, the effects of experiences of the Gulf War and September
11, as well as the surge in religious discourse discourse on the
surrounding reality.
3:30 PM Angel’s Fall Semih Kaplanoglu / Turkey / Greece / 2005 / 98
35 mm NY Premiere
Zeynep’s days are spent working as a hotel housekeeper. Her nights
are hellish due to her father’s inappropriate behavior. The only
person with whom she can build a relationship is Mustafa, a young man
who works at the same hotel and who is interested in Zeynep. Though
she never responds to the interest of this younger man, she does not
put him off either. Zeynep is trying to escape from the vicious
circle in which she finds herself. In another part of the city,
Selcuk, a sound technician, is struggling with the guilt he feels
over the recent death of his wife. The suitcase that contains
Selcuk’s wife’s clothes will change Zeynep’s fate
in a most unexpected manner. In Turkish w/English S/T
5:45 PM Bab’Aziz Nacer Khemir Tunisia/ Iran/ France / 2005 / 96 min /
35mm US Premiere (Director Expected to Attend)
Two figures are lost in an ocean of sand: Ishtar, a lively little
girl, and her grandfather Bab’Aziz, a blind dervish. Their goal is to
find the great reunion of dervishes that takes place every thirty
years. As they cross the endless expanse of burning-freezing sand,
they encounter other people. Osman, aching for the beautiful young
women he found at the bottom of a well; Zaid, whose singing seduced a
ravishing beauty he has lost; the Prince, who gives up his realm to
become a dervish. The desert is the dervish’s friend; however, in due
time it unlocks its secret to Bab’Aziz: the gathering place. The
elderly man kisses his granddaughter one last time before sending her
off with Zaid into the wild colors and bewitching sounds of the
gathering. For Bab’Aziz, time has come to f use with the sand,
to become part of the many stories and legends that swirl through the
desert like a dream within another dream, as infinite as the grains of
sand. In Arabic w/English S/T
8:15 PM The Embassy in the Building Amr Arafa / Egypt / 2005 / 111
min / 35 mm US Premiere (Lead Actor Adel Imam Expected to Attend)
The film revolves around a petrol engineer, who has lived in Dubai
for a quarter of a century and finally returns home to Egypt only to
discover that the Israeli Embassy is located right next door to his
In Arabic w/English S/T
Anthology Film Archive
32 2nd Ave at 2nd St.
F to 2nd Avenue
6 to Astor Place
R, W to 8 St.
Tribeca Cinemas
54 Varick St. at Laight St.
1,9, A,C,E to Canal St.
Cantor Film Center
36 East 8 St.
6 to Astor Place
R, W to 8 St.A,C,E to West 4 St.
Gala Reception at Alwan
R.S.V.P to mfreij01@yahoo.com and cdayash@yahoo.com
Major Sponsors
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
Mosaic Foundation
Columbia University Middle East Institute
Egyptian Film Center
Syrian National Film Organization
Third I
Persian Cultural Foundation
Rush Graphics
Persian Mirror
Iranian American Society of New York
Afghan Communicator
Damascus Bakery
Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate
Council for the National Interest
Dreams of a Nation

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