BBC Arabic Film Festival 2019

Arab film is receiving international attention following Nadine Labaki’s Foreign Lnaguage Oscar nomination for Capernaum. This year’s BBC Arabic Festival programme of 18 films includes four feature documentaries, nine short films and five short documentaries which explore themes ranging from sexuality and the drug trade, to conflict and displacement. Many of the films have received recognition on the international festival circuit.

To complement the screenings, there will be a programme of events, including a presentation and panel discussion on recent ground-breaking research into the role that digital technology can play in cultural preservation. Panellists include historian and broadcaster, Bettany Hughes, and Sarah Nankivell from Turner-nominated Forensic Architecture.

Highlights of the free festival include:

In the last few years, Arab cinema has seen a new wave of female filmmakers. The festival reflects this development, showcasing the work of seven female directors and tells the story of female experiences in the Arab world.

These films include Amal (Monday 25 March) tells the coming-of-age story of a feisty 14-year-old in post-revolutionary Egypt.


What Walaa Wants (Sunday 24 March) charts the teenage protagonist’s journey to try to become one of the few women in the Palestinian Security Forces.

What Walaa Wants

Several of the films have a satirical, often surreal edge. In the multi-award-winning The President’s Visit (Saturday 23 March), a Lebanese village learns that the president is planning to visit its soap factory as part of his campaign to clean up the nation.

The President’s Visit

Manivelle: Last Days of the Man of Tomorrow (Saturday 23 March) is a Lebanese mockumentary about a man-robot whose ups and downs reflect those of the country.

Manivelle: Last Days of the Man of Tomorrow

Other highlights include Anthony Chidiac’s Room for a Man (Saturday 23 March), an autobiographical account of being gay in Beirut today…

Room for a Man

and Survivors of Firdos Square (Sunday 24 March), about the sculptor who created the iconic metalwork that replaced Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad.

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