16 Classics and New Docs from the Arab World

… at the upcoming IDFA with the title ”Shifting Perspectives: The Arab World” with a clear intention: ”IDFA offers a counterbalance to Western stereotypes that ignore the complexity of the Arabic-speaking world and keep ‘the Arab’ at arm’s length, as ”the other””.

If you want to see this program, which is excellent, you should be in Amsterdam November 17-19, where the films are screened followed in many cases by discussions.

Among the classics are two films by late Syrian documentary master Omar Amiralay, ”A Flood in Baath Country” and ”The Misfortunes of Some”. I met the gentle director when in Damascus for the Dox Box festival, that was organised by Diana El Jeiroudi and Orwa Nyrabia. Here is a text-link written for the opening of the fourth edition of the festival in March 2011 – Amarilay passed away in February that same year: http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/1492/

Several of the films have been reviewed on this site:

Palestinian Mahdi Fleifel: A World not Ours, http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/2621/ ” A documentary of masterful narration, deeply honest, marked by the personal engagement of it’s maker and a rare artistic achievement.”

Egyptian Namir Abdel Messeeh: The Virgin, the Copts and Me” http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/2011/ ”… the help of mum gets the film to be finished, the family members all end up in the film, which adds to the film’s light-hearted entertaining qualities at the same time as it gives a beautiful hommage to people far away from Tahrir Square, in a small village where someone once saw the apparation of Virgin Mary.”

Syrian Layla Abyad: Letters to S. http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3988/ ”… It works with the personal essay form, it gives an intense atmosphere, her English voice and the shift from English to Arabic is perfect, and the image never ”kills” the text, vive versa. It gives you a glimpse of what it means to be in exile in a Western European country…”.

Yemeni-Scottish Sara Ishaq: The Mulberry House http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/2574/ ”… A family film? Yes. Private? No. Personal? Yes, as it is a film about a daughter, who returns to her roots… oops, now the words start to be klichés. Roots, yes but conveyed in a way so we non-yemenites easily can identify with the family, the three generations and its situation, in a film that captures the warmth and passes it on to us in a light tone that is broken when reality knocks on the door…”

Iraqi Abbas Fahdel: Homeland (Iraq Year Zero) (PHOTO), 334 minutes, one of the best, probably THE best documentary I have seen this decade-http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3645/ ”… Apart from being a warm, funny, touching film about a family, who just want to live a decent life, you can not help thinking that it should be seen by whoever is interested in seeing, what damage we (USA and the so-called coalition forces) have done to fellow citizens of the world…”

And there are films by well known directors as Raed Andoni, Malek Bensmaîl and Ossama Mohammed.


























Share your love
Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

Articles: 3863