A series of six features and five short films will be showing in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Perth. See films from Lebanon, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Tunisia and Australia. Talented directors have created an interesting collection of films that aim to address the contemporary reality and frequent misrepresentation of Arab peoples and cultures by reflecting the complexity and diversity of the Arab experience.
AFFA - Mahbas - image supplied by Cardinal Spin
A screening of MAHBAS will launch the festival at the opening night party in Sydney, held at Riverside Theatres Parramatta, Thursday 17 August. MAHBAS is a romantic comedy about love and marriage amongst Arab neighbours. The film tells the story of Therese, a Lebanese woman who holds a decades-old grudge against Syrians, due to her brother's passing caused by a Syrian bomb. As she prepares to meet her daughter's future in-laws, she is horror-struck to discover that they are Syrian.
Joining the festival on opening night will be the Director of MAHBAS, Sophie Boutros. MAHBAS is Boutros' debut feature film and had its world premiere at the Dubai International Film Festival 2016.
Sophie Boutros - image supplied Cardinal Spin
In A Maid for Each, director Maher Abi Samra artfully dissects the disturbing treatment of female foreign domestic workers in Lebanon.
A Maid For Each - image supplied by Cardinal Spin
Maher Abi Samra - image supplied by Cardinal Spin
The eye-opening documentary provides a fly on the wall perspective on the inner workings of a Beirut agency that traffics in domestic help and exposes a system that dehumanises young women.
I Still Hide to Smoke, tells the stories of women of all ages and from walks of life through the conversations they have in a Hammam (Turkish bathhouse). At times steamy, provocative and political I Still Hide to Smoke reveals what life is like for Arab women through a powerful all-female ensemble cast and the artful direction of Rayhana Obermeyer.
Rayhana - image supplied by Cardinal Spin
Other films featuring at this year's festival include Ali's Wedding. This hilarious Australian film is based on the real-life experience of lead actor Osamah Sami. The screenplay was also written by Sami and tells a humorous, authentic and poignant tale about family life in multicultural Australia.
Co Festival Director, Mouna Zaylah adds, "The Arab Film Festival strives to bring powerful and contemporary Arab stories to diverse Australian audiences. The films come from the Arab world and the diaspora. This year we will screen an Australian film, Ali's Wedding, a light-hearted comedy that was voted audience favourite when it premiered at the Sydney Film Festival earlier this year so we're very excited to have it screening during the Sydney leg of the Arab Film Festival."
In Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim, Ali believes that his girlfriend's soul has been reincarnated into a goat and his friend Ibrahim hears phantom noises. Diagnosed by a healer as being cursed, the two men (and goat) hit the road to break the spell. This funny buddy road movie is touching tale of friendship, reconciliation, self-discovery and self-acceptance.
Gaza Surf Club is an uplifting documentary about a group of young boys and girls who indulge their passion for surfing while living in one of the world's most battle-scarred locations, the Gaza Strip. Directed by Mickey Yamine and Philip Gnadt, the film follows the young people locked between Egypt and Israel, as they try to seek meaning and perspective to their lives through surfing on the beaches of Gaza.
We are Just Fine Like This - Director: Mehdi M. Barsaoui
We are Just Fine Like This - image supplied
Baba Azizi is an old man, who has not been spared by illness. Passed around by his adult children, he finds himself at his daughter's house for a couple of days. An ordeal is expected, but things will not go as he imagines.
Train to Peace - Director: Jakob Weyde and Jost Althoff
The sound of the Berlin subway takes a stranger back to the history of his country Iraq where peace is rare and happiness only comes as a guest.
Train To Peace - image supplied
AYNY - Director: Ahmad Saleh
The danger of war through the eyes of two boys who share a love for music. Ayny won a golden Oscar at the Student Academy Awards 2016 in the foreign animation category.