Film Synopses

Film synopses as provided by filmmakers

Article 212 a film by Karim Eishenawy (Egypt, 2010)

The film is mainly about how Egyptians perceive The Egyptian Constitution. Do they really believe in it? Do they even know about it, or they have their own street constitution! The film is based on a book under the same name.

AUC in the Seventies: An Audio Documentary by Jasmin Bauomy (Egypt, 2010)

The 70s stand for the Hippie movement, the music, the fashion, international politics and a change in the way people were thinking. The most significant symbols were the Beatles, bell bottom pants, tight shirts, mini skirts, the Vietnam War, student activism and free love. But how was the Middle East experiencing that time? What was Egypt, the opinion leading nation of the region, going through. This audio documentary takes a look at one of the most significant institutions of Egypt: The American University in Cairo (AUC). Interviewees include Mahmoud El Lozy, Samia Mehrez and Louis Greiss. Tune in and find out, what exactly campus life was like in the 70s and how students dealt with the '73 war.

Beit Sha'ar/Nomad's Home a film by Iman Kamel (Egypt, 2010)

An Egyptian filmmaker's journey to the remote regions of a militarized Sinai Peninsula sparks an intimate dialog when she encounters a Bedouin social entrepreneur in a tiny village in the shadow of Moses Mountain. In this harsh desert terrain, where water is scarce and the eyes of the army watch the Bedouin closely, Selema the Bedouin struggles against patriarchal traditions to bring economic prosperity and education to the girls and women of her tribe. As filmmaker Iman Kamel is invited into the tribeswomen's inner circles, she discovers that even though she and Selema were born of entirely different social and cultural circumstances within Egypt, their lives are more connected than might appear on the surface.

Camelrama a film by Carolyn Macartney (Tunisia, 2001)

A road trip through the Sahara desert, without the road or the car. Beginning in the desert, we ponder the camels and dunes. Then filming in undercrank, we traverse the vast sands of the Sahara at high speed atop a camel. We proceed with the jittery fast motion through the mysterious winding alleys of Netta, rarely encountering another human. Exploring the entire time, we pause only for the camel handlers and a scarab beetle. Shot on location in Tunisia, the film explores the desert and deserted places through the experience of motion.

Coffee Futures a film by Zeynep Devrim Giirsel (Turkey, 2009)

Coffee Futures weaves individual fortunes with the story of Turkey's decades-long attempt to become a member of the European Union. Promises and predictions made by politicians, both foreign and domestic, are juxtaposed with the rhetoric and practices of coffee fortune telling.

The widespread custom of coffee fortune telling in Turkey is an everyday communication tool. Coffee fortunes are a way of dealing with hopes, fears and worries, as well as a method of indirectly voicing matters usually left unspoken. Like any language,this narrative form has its protocols, rules and tropes; yet each fortune bears distinct marks of the teller's personal style and the individual fortune seeker's condition.

Thus, the filmmaker sets out to seek her fortune and flip her cup for a couple dozen people, both friends and strangers. These amateur fortune tellers all read her individual fortune as they might any other day, except that she also asks for their opinions on the future of Turkey and Europe.

July 31,2009 marked the 50th year anniversary of Turkey's application to apply to the elusive European Union (maiden name: European Economic Community). On this seemingly endless path, Turkey's future is continually invoked and described, yet not quite within reach.

Touching upon the psychology of collective waiting and anticipating a national future, Coffee Futures attempts to render the emotional texture of a society whose fate has been nationally and internationally debated - often in relation to its "Europeanness" - for a long, long time.

Degrees of Incarceration a film by Amahl Bishara and Nidal AI-Azraq (Palestine, 2010)
photo credit - Michael Kennedy

How do Palestinian refugees manage the heavy toll political prison takes on young and old under Israeli occupation? Teenagers are arrested in the middle of the night for participating in protests. Parents make arduous journeys to visit imprisoned sons. Yet, this is not centrally a story of Palestinian suffering. A youth organization led by former prisoners produces a play to teach teenagers how to cope with interrogation. It also channels youth into activities that support their community, but diminish risk of arrest. Through observational footage and interviews filmed over six years in Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem, Degrees of Incarceration introduces a community of Palestinians - mothers, teenagers, children, community leaders - as they strive to support each other in the enduring shadow of political prison.

Duvarlar-Mauern-Walls a Film by Can Candan (Turkey, 2000)

A trilingual (Turkish, German, English) documentary about a moment in the history of the largest minority in re-unified, post-Wall Berlin: the immigrant community from Turkey, as witnessed by a Turkish filmmaker from the USA. In the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of the two Germanys, 1991 was the year when anti-foreigner violence in Germany was becoming too visible to ignore. 1991 was also the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the migration from Turkey to Germany. In this film, Berliners from Turkey talk about their past, present, and possible future, reflecting on what the fall of the Wall and the subsequent unification means for them and how increasing hostilities are affecting their sense of identity and belonging in the new Germany. Duvarlar-Mauern-Walls, is a personal view from the periphery by a filmmaker, who is simultaneously an insider and an outsider.

Fashioning Faith a film by Yasmin Moll (USA, 2010)

Muslim clothing designers in New York City struggle to combine high fashion with a high sense of piety. Their designs aim to stay true to Islamic principles of feminine modesty while attempting to break into a fashion scene marked more by exposed shoulders than covered hair. In the process these young women designers are redefining what it means to be a modern Muslim in contemporary America.

I am George a film by Mohsen Abdelghany (Egypt, 2010)

A day in the life of a young Egyptian christian amateur actor. In the throngs of events and conflicting emotions, trying to preserve his dream... and his name.

Imperial Outposts: the Secret History of the US Military Presence in Turkey a film by Amy Kristine Holmes (Turkey, US, Egypt, 2010)

With over 1,000 bases on foreign soil , the US has erected what some call an empire of bases . This is the first film that provides a glimpse into this little-known world, by taking a close look at the American military presence in Turkey from 1945 until the present. The film addresses the rise of opposition to the US presence as part of the larger democratization process. In the 1960s this opposition ranged from non- violent demonstrations against the Navy's port visits to Istanbul, to strikes by unionized base workers, to kidnappings of American soldiers.The Iraq War in 2003 triggered another upsurge of social protest, which resulted in Ankara denying basing access for the invasion . This set an example for the Iraqi parliament which passed a resolution demanding the full withdrawal of all US troops and bases from Iraq by the end of 2011, highlighting the Achilles ' heel of the basing network.

Inscriptions on Rosewater a film by Salah ElMur (Sudan, 2010)
The camera follows Nubian women in north Sudan while plastering and decorating their houses on a ceremonial atmosphere.
The process starts with the preparation and fermentation of the plastering mixture with the help of friends. relatives and neighbors While singing, making Henna tattoos similar to those decorations on their houses

Iran: Voices of the Unheard a film by Davoud Geramifard (Iran, 2009)

A thousand kilometers south of Tehran, a nomadic tribe struggles to survive surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of stark Persian desert and mountain landscapes. In Shiraz, an aging revolutionary subverts a system that betrayed the dreams of an entire generation of radicals. And in Tehran, a young intellectual fights the soul-crushing ennui of a daily existence without true freedom.

Shot secretly without the permission of the Iranian government, Iran: Voices of the Unheard is a tribute to the lives of those living under the scrutiny of a repressive regime, forever silenced by their elected representatives. The film examines a day in the life of three very distinct groups, all of whom share a sense of alienation and despair, shedding light on the upheavals triggered by the June 2009 elections, and culminating in disturbing footage of those bloody street protests that shocked the world.

Jerusalem, the Adulterous Wife a film by Matthias De Groof (Palestine/Israel 2010)

The film Jerusalem , the adulterous wife is an urban symphony on Jerusalem , inspired on the text of Ezekiel 16 of the same name. The city's actual complex relation to politics and religion is brought into perspective by historical images and an historical text. In that manner, the cinematic approach to the city is not only historicized, but the text and images are also actualized. This archeological approach is visualized both by the use of archive footage (mostly propaganda films) and by what these footage represents (namely excavations). The archeological approach cuts though historical layers en depths of the city in order to give a diachronic view on the conflict that is persisting in Jerusalem. Under the surface, Jerusalem, the adulterous wife reflects the difficulty of approach towards Jerusalem and the adultery of images.

Living in the Nile a film by Mohamad Al Wassify (Egypt, 2010)

The Nile is the home, the family and everything.

Mafrouza - Oh night! a film by Emmanuelle Demoris (Egypt, 2007)

An archeologist guides our first visit to Mafrouza, for the houses of this neighbourhood of Alexandria have been built by its inhabitants upon the remains of a Greco-Roman necropolis. But a wedding feast suddenly plunges us into the present life of the area, into its tense and joyous frenzy. Once we have passed this entry rite, we go further on in the neighbourhood and meet several persons, discovering the daily struggle of each one. Abu Hosny, a solitary old man who scoops water out of his flooded house. Om Bassiouni, a strong countrywoman, who bakes her bread under the winter rain. The Chenabous, muslim ragpickers who pray to Saint George for protection. Adel and Ghada, a young loving couple who tells the story of their marriage with an astonishing freedom of speech on the subject of love. This first journey in Mafrouza is the time of astonishment, which leaves way to the singular emotion of first exchanges .

Next Year in Bombay a film by Jonas Pariente and Mathias Mangin (India 2010)

The Jewish community 'Bene Israel' settled in India 2000 years ago. Although they never faced anti- Semitism, most of them moved to Israel in the 1950's and today they are 4000 in Bombay and its region. The Bene Israel story, however, may come to an end. Since the community is so small, the Indian Jewish culture could evaporate within one generation. Many families are afraid they will have to choose between staying in India and being Jewish. This story raises the question whether the creation of Israel, in an odd trick of history, hasn't actually threatened a unique Jewish culture. The last two educators of this community, Sharon and Sharona, were trained in a yeshiva in Jerusalem and have relentlessly been working towards a better Indian Jewish life. As their daughters are growing older, they have to decide whether they will stay with their shrinking community or if they will fly to Israel in order to provide their children with a better Jewish life.

Of Flesh and Blood a film by Azza Shaaban (Egypt/Palestine, 2010)

During an intense journey through Gaza, the director explores the lives of Gazan people who live under a brutal multi-lateral siege and their determination to bring normality and dignity to their day to day lives. Inevitably the director encounters and acknowledges the involvement of her country - Egypt - in this situation.
The director sneaks through the border into the besieged Gaza Strip alone without a crew or any equipment except a small camera.

Plastic Flowers Never Die a film by Roxanne Varzi (Iran, 2008)
The Iran-Iraq War was the largest mobilization of the Iranian population, achieved primarily by producing and promoting a culture of martyrdom based on religious themes found in Shii Islam. Martyrdom became state policy. Khomeini made it clear the war was a spiritual one that the people, and not a professional army, would fight. It would be a sacred defense; a war of good against evil, of spirit against military might, where a human wave of believers would form a wall of defense against the Iraqis. Over 800,000 people died.

Anthropologist, writer and filmmaker Roxanne Varzi spent twelve years researching and writing about post- Revolution public culture in Iran. As an Iranian-American who was born in Iran and left shortly after the Revolution she found that even though she had missed the war with Iraq it was omnipresent. She spent a year in Iran without a film permit speaking to ideologically driven mural painters, museum curators, war vets and other cultural producers alongside the secular youth who were meant to consume the culture created by the government. The result is an experimental documentary and meditation on the aftermath of the war and the mourning after.

Plastic Flowers Never Die is an essential item to view for an understanding of war, memory, and martyrdom. - Jack David Eller, Anthropology Review Database

Sifinja-The Iron Bride a film by Valerie Haensch (Sudan, 2009)

A film about mobility , human creativity, and technology in a Sudanese truck community. The English Bedford-Lorry was introduced to Sudan in the late 1960ies. Since then , local craftsmen technically modify the truck into an ideal vehicle, adequate for traveling off-road and for performing customers' expectations. The craftsmen and drivers call the lorry "Sifinja" because it is soft and comfortable like the plastic slippers it is named after. In different places in Sudan the carpenters and blacksmiths not only create a shiny iron bride, but they change the whole structure of the lorry through a highly unorthodox performance. Following closely the daily work, art and history of truck-modding on the Nile, a fascinating way of Africa creativity dealing with global commodities - the automobiles - is opened up.

Still a film by Alana Kakoyiannis (Cyprus, 2009)

A poetic documentary reflecting on the notion of home through the lens of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot displacement on the divided island of Cyprus. The testimonies of two female voices living on opposing sides of the Green Line combined with the filmmaker's own observations of the present day, capture the potency of the political conflict through personal perspectives.

 Stories of Al Fagallah a film by Mohamed Abdel Bary (Egypt, 2011)

Al Fagallah is a neighborhood at the heart of Cairo, off Ramsis street. The modern Fagallah started when Khediwy Ismail established “Seket Al Fagallah” in the middle of the ninetieth century. Since then, Al Fagallah was the gateway to modernity, with theatres, print houses, and a flourishing cultural life.

In the 20th century, Al fagallah witnessed the establishment of film studios, and the residency of Great artists and writers, like Khalil Mutran and Farid Al atresh. Al Fagallah also witnessed strong ethnic diversities, as Armenian, Iranian, Syrian, Lebanese, Christian, Italian, and Jewish families lived in it.

The deterioration of Egypt in the last part of the century got reflected on Al Fagallah. Since then the cultural life started to vanish, getting replaced by a commercial one of sanitary ware and ceramic. The bourgeoisies nature of Al Fagallah was a replaced by a low-income one.

Like many low-income neighborhoods in Cairo, its people are marginalized and suffer from poor education conditions.
"Folk Arts: Stories of Faggala" in Al Ahram

Sturm: Ahmonseto a film by Philip Rizk (Egypt, 2010)
In the Ahmonseto factory capitalism cuts to the bone and the workers paid the price

Sturm: Fayoum a film by Philip Rizk (Egypt, 2010)

In Fayoum capitalism cuts to the bone and some villagers get no water.

Sura a film by Yasser Alwan (Egypt, 2010)

Sura presents a series of photographs of the average women and men during the last thirty years of life in Egypt. These are the people who inherited the worst aspects of Mubarak's policies and are the faces of the January 25 revolution. The soundtrack compares and contrasts these images to speeches by Gamal Abdul Nasser and the Ruba'iyaat of Salah Jaheen, the two most important voices of Egypt's first revolution.

Tawasol a film by Maged Nader (Egypt, 2010)

The more one talks, the less words means.

Ticket From Azrael a film by Abdallah Awad Al Ghoul (Palestine, 2010)

I am gasping for breath the oxygen vanish
and the camp of Jenin disappeared with it
If I could live just a bit longer
If Palestine
Sometimes I feel I don't care about you
Why ask whether you're alive
why worry whether you're dead whether you've gone to heaven
from (Ramalla Underground) band

The Wizard a film by Ahmed Abd Elaziz (Egypt, 2010)
Pele ... Maradona ... Van Basten ... Roberto Baggio ... Zin El Din ... Zidam ... Ronaldinho ... Shahenda ... The Wizard

Young Arabs  a film by Michael Graziano and E. Joong-Eun Park (Egypt, 2008)
Young Arabs takes viewers inside an elite preparatory school in the heart of Cairo, Egypt. The film offers a quiet encounter with a collection of students as they reflect on God, America, terrorism, marriage, the Middle East, and more. Despite being founded and still managed by French-trained Jesuit priests, the students and faculty of this all-boys school are roughly 60% Muslim and 40% Christian. By virtue of lineage, moreover, these young men are expected to help lead the Middle East into a new and uncertain world - a fact that, along with the socioeconomic and religious complexion of the school, gives their views particular significance.