07  08  2008

Caravan screens 20 new Arab docos in ParisFestival

Caravan screens 20 new Arab docos in Paris

From 17 to 21 September 2008, the Caravan of Euro-Arab Cinema is organising an event entitled “La Caravane du documentaire euro arabe à Paris” aimed at showcasing 20 new Arab documentaries produced between 2007 and 2008 at the World Arab Institute. This is the final activity scheduled for France by the Caravan, an EU-funded programme within the Euromed Audiovisual programme.

The documentaries presented in this competition are testament to the development of a film genre that has often been marginalised in the Arab world. Produced in difficult conditions, far from any official audiovisual support structures or coproduced with European producers, these films reflect the emancipation of Arab film directors and the emergence of an Arab art-house documentary film scene.

Through the various issues explored and particularly the cinematic writing style utilised in a great number of these documentaries, an image is drawn of an Arab world that is prey to its own fears and hopes, its generational and identity conflicts, its regional wars and sometimes even its own infighting. The films bring us face-to-face with what haunts the Arab male and female, both within and beyond traditional geographic borders.

The directors of these documentaries cast an enlightening and uncompromising glance at their society, in films such as Maria’s Grotto by Palestinian Buthina Canan Khoury; Gharsallah, la semence de Dieu by Tunisian Kamel Laaridi; Salata Baladi by the Egyptian Nadia Kamel; dealing with identity crisis; and Made in Egypt by the French-Egyptian Karim Goury. Even simple if unsettling themes are explored in films such as L’ombre de l’absence by Palestinian Nasri Hajjaj, which delves into the relationship with death of diaspora Palestinians; Ouled Lenine by French-Tunisian Nadia El Fani, which looks at the memory of fathers, their struggles and their political engagement; and Mémoires du 8 Mai 1945 by Algerian Mariem Hamidat.

But ordinary stories of modern-day Arab society are also told, such as in films like Six histoires ordinaires by Syrian Meyer El Roumi; Joue à l’ombre by Algerian Mohamed Lakhdar Tati; yet more familiar stories in Palestinian Nahed Awwad’s A 5 minutes de chez moi; Take me home by Jordanian Mais Darwazah; Le tableau by Moroccan Brahim Fritah; and yet another Algerian film, Elodie Wattiaux and Sihem Merad’s Premier Plas, Algérie, un cinéma à tout cri.

The competition will see as many films presented as eclectic views on societies that are close yet at the same time distant - films which aim to ensure that the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean get to know each other in the hope that they might live together better as neighbours.