Contemporary Middle Eastern Cinema

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March 4, 2011 - March 6, 2011, Varied

Eileen Norris Cinema Theatre/Frank Sinatra Hall

The School of Cinematic Arts, the Arab Film Festival and
Visions and Voices: The USC Arts & Humanities Initiative
Invite you and a guest to a special film celebration



A three-day Visions & Voices film symposium

Friday, March 4th - Sunday, March 6th, 2011
Norris Cinema Theatre/Frank Sinatra Hall

FREE ADMISSION. OPEN TO ALL.

ELECTRONIC RSVPS ARE REQUIRED FOR ALL SCREENINGS.


ABOUT THE FESTIVAL

This three-day film festival will present and explore a panorama of emerging and established cinemas from the Middle East, including recent works from Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq and Iran. The festival will highlight unifying themes in Middle Eastern cinemas, as well as delineate the complex role that filmmakers play in granting visibility to salient political and civil rights issues, often at odds with the political establishment. Filmmakers and scholars will discuss the ability for cinema to be used as a vehicle for mobilizing social change and how these films reflect and respond to their domestic cultures.

SCHEDULE OF SCREENINGS

Abbreviated Schedule (film synopses and reservation links below):

Friday, March 4th, 2011

  • 7:00 P.M. -- Opening Remarks by Alessandro Ago, SCA Director of Programming; Michel Shehadeh, Executive Director of the Arab Film Festival; and Camille Alick, Project Manager, MOST Resource and Board of Directors, Arab Film Festival.
  • 7:15 P.M. -- Outside the Law (Algeria/France/Belgium, 2010), 138 minutes
  • 9:40 P.M. -- Masquerades (Algeria/France, 2008), 92 minutes
Saturday, March 5th, 2011

  • 12:30 PM -- Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story (Egypt, 2009), 135 min.
  • 3:00 PM -- Caramel (Lebanon/France, 2007), 95 min.
  • 4:45 PM -- Slingshot Hip Hop (Palestine/U.S.A., 2008), 83 min.
  • 6:30 PM -- Panel Discussion: "Capturing the Reel Picture: Civil Rights and Social Change in the Arab World"
  • 8:00 PM -- Son of Babylon (Iraq/U.K./France/Palestine, 2009), 110 min., preceded by Paper Dress (Jordan, 2009), 7 min.
Sunday, March 6th, 2011

  • 11:00 AM -- Women Without Men (Iran/Germany/Morocco, 2009), 95 min.
  • 12:45 PM -- Offside (Iran, 2006), 93 min.
  • 2:30 PM -- About Elly (Iran, 2009), 119 min.
  • 4:45 PM -- The Green Wave (Iran/Germany, 2010), 80 min. (Due to other festival obligations, this screening will be restricted solely to current USC students, faculty and staff)
  • 6:30 PM -- Panel Discussion: "Lifting the Veil Through Media: Futbol, Dating and Revolution in Iran"
  • 7:30 PM -- Catered reception in front of the theater in Queen's Courtyard
  • 8:30 PM -- Persepolis (Iran/France/U.S.A., 2007), 96 min.

DETAILED SCHEDULE: FRIDAY, MARCH 4th:

7:00 P.M. -- Opening Remarks by Alessandro Ago, SCA Director of Programming; Michel Shehaden, Executive Director of the Arab Film Festival; and Camille Alick, Project Manager for MOST Resource.

7:15 P.M. -- Outside the Law (Algeria/France/Belgium, 2010), 138 minutes
Written and Directed by Rachid Bouchareb.

After losing their family home in Algeria, three brothers and their mother are scattered across the globe. Messaoud joins the French army fighting in Indochina; Abdelkader becomes a leader of the Algerian independence movement in France and Saïd moves to Paris to make his fortune in the shady clubs and boxing halls of Pigalle. Gradually, their interconnecting destinies reunite them in the French capital, where freedom is a battle to be fought and won.

Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2011 Academy Awards.
35mm print provided courtesy of Cohen Media.
In French and Arabic, with English subtitles.
To visit the Official Website and to view the trailer, click here.
MAKE A RESERVATION

 

9:40 P.M. -- Masquerades (Algeria/France, 2008), 92 minutes
Directed by Lyès Salem. Written by Lyès Salem and Nathalie Saugeon.


After working for much of his life as a gardener in his dusty Algerian village, Mounir dreams of improving his family's fortune and gaining a measure of respect by marrying off his narcoleptic sister, Rym, to a "real gentleman." However, Rym has other plans—she dreams of marrying Mounir's best friend, Khliffa, who has secretly courted her for years. When Mounir lashes out at village gossip with a fib that he has promised Rym to a wealthy outsider, she comes out of her sleepy stupor to embrace the rumor and press her real betrothed into action.

Beautifully brought to life by a memorable cast—including director Lyès Salem as the cocky but compassionate bumbler Mounir—this heartfelt comedy suggests that when dreams become reality, it's time to wake up.

Official Submission from Algeria for the 2009 Academy Awards.
35mm print provided courtesy of The Global Film Initiative's Globel Lens Collection.
In Arabic with English subtitles.
To visit the Official Website and view the trailer, click here.
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SATURDAY, MARCH 5th:

12:30 PM -- Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story (Egypt, 2009), 135 min.
Directed by Yousry Nasrallah. Written by Wahid Hamid.


Cairo, today. Hebba, a television show host, presents a successful political talk show on a privately owned network. Karim, her husband, is deputy editor in chief of a government-owned newspaper. His ambition is to become editor in chief. He is led to believe by the party leaders, that his wife's constant meddling with opposition politics could put his promotion in danger. Using his boyish charm and sexual prowess, he convinces Hebba to stay away from politics, and devote her program to social issues for which the government cannot be held responsible. She starts a series of talk shows around issues involving women.

She listens to the stories of resilient, strong women, who, like Scheherazade in "A Thousand and One Nights", tell their stories to stay alive. Gradually, she finds herself walking in a minefield of abuse, sexual, religious, social and political repression that lead to the break-up of her marriage.

Winner: Lina Mangiacapre Award for Yousry Nasrallah, 2009 Venice Film Festival.
35mm print provided courtesy of ArtMattan. In Arabic with English subtitles.
To visit the Official Website, click here.
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3:00 PM -- Caramel (Lebanon/France, 2007), 95 min.
Directed by Nadine Labaki
.
Written by Nadine Labaki, Rodney El Haddad and Jihad Hojeily.


This Lebanese film follows the lives and loves of five women whose paths criss-cross in Beirut. They work and play in and around a beauty parlor where their issues involve an affair with a married man, an engagement to a stubborn alpha male, and dalliances with the customers both male and female in this sweet comedy.

Winner: Audience Award, 2007 San Sebastian International Film Festival.
35mm print provided courtesy of Swank Motion Pictures.
In Arabic and French, with English subtitles.
To visit the Official Website and to view the trailer, click here.
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4:45 PM -- Slingshot Hip Hop (Palestine/U.S.A., 2008), 83 min.
Directed by Jackie Reem Salloum


Slingshot Hip Hop braids together the stories of young Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank and inside Israel as they discover Hip Hop and employ it as a tool to surmount divisions imposed by occupation and poverty. From internal checkpoints and Separation Walls to gender norms and generational differences, this is the story of young people crossing the borders that separate them.

Official Selection: 2008 Sundance Film Festival.
DigiBeta provided courtesy of Fresh Booza.
In Arabic, English and Hebrew, with English subtitles.
To visit the Official Website and view the trailer, click here.
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6:30 PM -- Panel Discussion: "Capturing the Reel Picture: Civil Rights and Social Change in the Arab World" Hosted by the Arab Film Festival and MOST Resource (Muslims on Screen and Television). Featuring: Sabine El Gemayel, Writer/Director, Niloofar; Mark LeVine, Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at UC Irvine; Amin Matalqa, Writer/Director, Captain Abu Raed; Claire Naber Matalqa, Head of Institutional Development, The Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts; Jackie Reem Salloum, Director, Slingshot Hip Hop. Moderated by Camille Alick.

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8:00 PM -- Son of Babylon (Iraq/U.K./France/Palestine, 2009), 110 min.
Directed by Mohamed Al Daradji
.
Written by Mohamed Al Daradji and Jennifer Norridge.

Northern Iraq, 2003. Two weeks after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Ahmed, a 12-year-old boy begrudgingly follows in the shadow of his grandmother. On hearing news that prisoners of war have been found alive in the South, she is determined to discover the fate of her missing son, Ahmed's father, who never returned from the Gulf war. From the mountains of Kurdistan to the sands of Babylon, they hitch rides from strangers and cross paths with fellow pilgrims, on all too similar journeys. Struggling to understand his grandmother's search, Ahmed follows in the forgotten footsteps of a father he never knew. This journey will lead the boy to come of age.


The filmmakers would like to highlight the associated 'Iraq's Missing Campaign'. Please visit their website for more information about the campaign to help reconcile the over 1,000,000 people that are currently missing in Iraq. The campaign website link is www.iraqsmissing.org

Official Submission from Iraq for the 2011 Academy Awards.
35mm print provided courtesy of Human Film.
In Arabic and Kurdish, with English subtitles.
To visit the Official Website and to view the trailer, click here.
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Son of Babylon will be preceded by Paper Dress (Jordan, 2009), 7 min.

An interpretive documentary exercise by Kasem Kharse, an Egyptian student at the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts (RSICA). Paper Dress is based on a story told by an Iranian student about her encounter with illness as a child, shot by Ali Azhari. The film was designed and created by Kasem Kharsa and a team of RSICA students. RSCIA is an MFA program for aspiring film makers of the Middle East and North Africa, founded by his Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan in partnership with the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 6th:

11:00 AM -- Women Without Men (Iran/Germany/Morocco, 2009), 95 min.
Written and Directed by Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari.

Against the tumultuous backdrop of Iran's 1953 CIA-backed coup d’etat, a cataclysmic moment in Iranian history that brought down the democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, the destinies of four women converge in a beautiful orchard, where they find independence, solace and companionship. Acclaimed photographer Shirin Neshat makes her directorial debut with this incisive and sumptuously filmed reflection on the pivotal moment in history that directly led to the Islamic revolution and the Iran we know today.  

Winner: Silver Lion for Best Director, 2009 Venice Film Festival.
35mm print provided courtesy of New Yorker Films. In Farsi, with English subtitles.
To visit the Official Website and view the trailer, click here.
MAKE A RESERVATION

 

12:45 PM -- Offside (Iran, 2006), 93 min.
Directed by Jafar Panahi
. Written by Jafar Panahi and Shadmehr Rastin.

Many Iranian girls love soccer as much as their countrymen and sport fans all over the world but, they are prevented by law from attending live soccer matches in their country. Inspired by the day when his own daughter was refused entry to a soccer stadium in Iran, Jafar Panahi's OffsideIranian girls attempting to watch their team's World Cup qualifying match against Bahrain at the stadium in Tehran. The young women, who range from timid to tomboy, are guarded by a group of naïve young soldiers who would rather be watching the game themselves, out with their girlfriends or at home looking after their sheep.

Winner: Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize, 2006 Berlin International Film Festival.
35mm print provided courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
In Farsi, with English subtitles.
To visit the Official Website and to view the trailer, click here.
MAKE A RESERVATION

 

2:30 PM -- About Elly (Iran, 2009), 119 min.
Directed by Asghar Farhadi
. Written by Asghar Farhadi and Azad Jafarian.

After many years living in Germany, Ahmad is visiting Iran. His old university friends organize a three-day break on the Caspian Sea. The joyful Sepideh plans the reunion but, unbeknownst to her colleagues, invites Elly, her daughter's nursery school teacher. Ahmad, exiting an unhappy German marriage, would like to settle down with an Iranian woman. The friends, realizing why Sepideh has invited Elly, pay her particular attention and laud her qualities. On the second day an incident occurs which leads to Elly's disappearance. The joyful atmosphere evaporates as the friends try to understand how and why she is no longer there. Panic sets in.

The friends become judgmental and try to find fault in Elly's character. The group's opinion of Elly veers from those of the first day, until at last the truth is out.

Winner: Silver Berlin Bear for Best Director, 2009 Berlin International Film Festival.
HDCam provided courtesy of Regent Releasing.
In Farsi and German, with English subtitles.
To visit the Official Website, click here.
MAKE A RESERVATION

 

4:45 PM -- The Green Wave (Iran/Germany, 2010), 80 min.
Written and Directed by Ali Samadi Ahad

Green is the color of hope. Green is the color of Islam - and Green was the symbol of recognition among the supporters of Iranian presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. This touching documentary-collage illustrates the dramatic events before and after the 2009 presidential elections in Iran, sharing the feelings of the people behind the historic Green revolution.

Official selection: 2011 Sundance Film Festival & Berlin International Film Festival.
HDCam provided courtesy of Visit Films. In English and Farsi, with English subtitles.
To visit the Official Website and to view the trailer, click here.
(Due to other festival obligations, this screening will be restricted solely to current USC students, faculty and staff)
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6:30 PM -- Panel Discussion: "Lifting the Veil Through Media: Futbol, Dating and Revolution in Iran" Hosted by the Arab Film Festival and MOST Resource (Muslims on Screen and Television). Featuring: Babak Rahimi, Islamic and Iranian Scholar; Johanna Blakley, Deputy Director, Norman Lear Center; Ellen Harrington, Director of Exhibitions and Special Events, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Moderated by Camille Alick.

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7:30 PM -- Catered reception with Mediterranean cuisine provided by Pi on Sunset in front of Norris Cinema Theatre in Queen's Courtyard.

8:30 PM -- Persepolis (Iran/France/U.S.A., 2007), 96 min.
Written and Directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi


Persepolis is the poignant story of a young girl in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. It is through the eyes of precocious and outspoken nine year old Marjane that we see a people's hopes dashed as fundamentalists take power - forcing the veil on women and imprisoning thousands. Clever and fearless, she outsmarts the "social guardians" and discovers punk, ABBA and Iron Maiden. Yet when her uncle is senselessly executed and as bombs fall around Tehran in the Iran/Iraq war, the daily fear that permeates life in Iran is palpable. At age fourteen, Marjane's parents make the difficult decision to send her to school in Austria. Vulnerable and alone in a strange land, she endures the typical ordeals of a teenager.

In addition, Marjane has to combat being equated with the religious fundamentalism and extremism she fled her country to escape. Though it means putting on the veil and living in a tyrannical society, Marjane decides to return to Iran to be close to her family.

Nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2008 Academy Awards.
35mm print provided courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
In French, English, Farsi and German, with English subtitles.
To visit the Official Website and view the trailer, click here.
MAKE A RESERVATION

 


About the Guests

"Capturing the Reel Picture: Civil Rights and Social Change in the Arab World"

Sabine El Gemayel, Writer/Director, Niloofar

After living in Iran and Lebanon for most of her life, Sabine El Gemayel moved to Canada in 1987.  She graduated from Stanislas High School, and got a B.A. in Communications Studies from Montreal’s Concordia University in 1993. Sabine wrote and directed three short films before moving to Los Angeles in 1994. Since then she has edited a number of feature films such as the award winning Palestinian feature film The Olive Harvest. Sabine marked her debut as a writer-director with Niloofar (2008), an Iraqi story dealing with arranged marriage, education and crime of honor produced by Jean Bréhat and Rachid Bouchareb (Days of Glory, Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film 2006). Currently, Anne-Dominique Toussaint (Caramel, The Hedgehog) is producing Sabine El Gemayel’s second feature film Motherhood Inc. in 2011.

Mark LeVine, Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at UC Irvine and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University

LeVine is the author and editor of more than half a dozen books, including Heavy Metal Islam (Random House 2008), Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989 (Zed Books, 2009), Overthrowing Geography: Jaffa, Tel Aviv and the Struggle for Palestine (California, 2005), and Why They Don't Hate Us (Oneworld Publications 2005). He writes frequently for the international press and is a columnist for Al-Jazeera. He is also producer of several films and albums, including Flowers in the Desert (EMI, 2010) and the documentary Heavy Metal Islam, currently in production.

Amin Matalqa, Writer/Director of the 2008 Sundance-winning Jordanian film, Captain Abu Raed

Amin Matalqa has an MFA in Directing from the American Film Institute.  With 28 international awards, his feature film debut was Jordan’s first entry into the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. Prior to that, he made 26 short films at low-to-no budget while searching for his voice as a filmmaker. Born and raised in Jordan until he was 13, Amin immigrated to the US with his family and spent 14 years in Ohio where he majored in Business Marketing at Ohio State University and had a career in telecommunications for six years before deciding to finally pursue his childhood dream of filmmaking.

Today he lives in Los Angeles with his wife Claire and their dogs, Cello and Oboe.  Amin just completed shooting his second feature film, Disney's first Arab Language production, The United.    

Claire Naber Matalqa, Head of Institutional Development – The Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts, Jordan and U.S. Liaison Officer for the Royal Film Commission of Jordan, Los Angeles

Born and raised in Jordan, Claire has worked in Amman, London and Sydney in the fields of music, marketing, radio, television and film. Her lifelong passion for writing led to a Masters Degree in Creative Writing at the University of New South Wales in Sydney in 2002. In 2006 Claire returned to her hometown of Amman, and was hired to work alongside Dean James Hindman as Project Manager and one of the founding members of the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts (RSICA); Jordan's first regional graduate film school, born from an historic collaboration between the Royal Film Commission of Jordan and the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts (USCCA).  With a team of passionate Jordanian staff, international faculty, and the invaluable support of Dean Elizabeth Daley and a team of expert consultants from USCCA, The Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts was inaugurated in September 2008, and graduated its first class of MFA students from all over the Middle East in 2010.

After continuing creative writing work on two short films and various writing projects in the past three years, Claire wrote her first feature film script, Yasmeen, in 2009. The script was awarded the Dubai Film Connection Grand Development Prize at the Dubai International Film Festival in 2009, and was selected for the semifinal shortlist of 12 scripts considered for the RAWI Middle East Screenwriter’s Lab in association with the Sundance Institute in 2010. Currently Claire is Head of Institutional Development for RSICA in Jordan, as well as U.S. Liaison Officer representing the Royal Film Commission in Los Angeles. She plans to continue writing and producing feature films, as well as collaborating on projects to build cultural bridges between East and West, empowering local talent and sharing the unique voice of a modern Middle East with the world.

Jackie Reem Salloum, Director, Slingshot Hip Hop

Jackie Reem Salloum is a New York based artist and filmmaker. Drawing on her Palestinian and Syrian roots, her pop-infused work focuses on challenging the stereotypes of Arabs in the media. She has directed several shorts exploring this issue, including Planet of the Arabs, which was an official selection in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. After receiving her MFA from New York University, Salloum began directing her first feature length documentary Slingshot Hip Hop. Five years in the making, it made its premiere at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival-Documentary Competition. Salloum’s work is also the basis of a youth education program on Palestine, and she is frequently invited to speak and lead workshops at universities and events internationally.

"Lifting the Veil Through Media: Futbol, Dating and Revolution in Iran"

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago
Email: aago@cinema.usc.edu
Phone: 213.740.2330