The Berlin Film Festival, or Berlinale as it’s also known, will take place from March 1-5 this year. Like all other events that took place digitally last year, Berlinale will follow suit in the same format. However, the film festival will split the cinematic celebrations into two events. The first will begin with an online event in March, and later, a public event in June, during a much safer time.
This year’s edition will see screenings of six films by Arab filmmakers, out of which four are women. Beirut-born director duo Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Egyptian filmmaker Ayten Amin and Lebanese director Eliane Raheb are among the few directors chosen to present their work at Berlinale 2021. The official lineup also includes Egyptian filmmaker Sharief Zohairy, Argentinian-Lebanese George Peter Barbari, and Palestinian director Samaher Alqadi.
The film Memory Box by Hadjithomas and Joreige will make its premiere at Berlinale. The film follows a single mother from Montreal who is confronted by her memories of the Lebanese civil war during the 1980s and is also in the running to win the film festival’s Golden Bear award. Screening in the Panorama section of the festival, Raheb’s Miguel’s War is about a Lebanese man who finds himself oppressed by society throughout his youth. To make a place for himself within society, the man participates in the Lebanese civil war.
Souad by Amin tells the story of how social media affects young girls’ lives approaching adulthood. Like Miguel’s War, this film will also be screened at the Panorama section of the festival. Also featured in the category is Barbari’s directorial debut Death of a Virgin and The Sin of Not Living. The story takes notes from the director’s own life and follows four young Lebanese men on their quest to win their acceptance into manhood. Berlinale will also be screening As I Want, a documentary by Alqadi that features the mass protests all over Egypt due to a string of sexual assaults in Cairo. The documentary is a hard-hitting and inward journey in which individual liberty links to the collective process of liberation in the Arab world.
Forum Expanded, which is another section of the film festival, explores experimental cinema and art installations. This year, the section includes a five-and-a-half-hour documentary from Zohairy titled Seven Years Around the Nile Delta. Shot over seven years capturing the Nile Delta at the start of the Egyptian revolution in 2011, the film is a half road movie and half an epic travelogue. Forum Expanded will also include an art installation from Beirut-born artist Haig Aivazian. Although little is known about Aivazian’s piece, his previous pieces explore sculpture, performance, and drawing.