Following the sudden, unexpected announcement that Dubai International Film Festival, the premiere platform for Arab cinema, will not be held in 2018, it has been announced that Paris is set to launch its very own film festival dedicated to film from the region. The newly-minted Festival Des Cinemas Arabes will be presided over by Palestinian actress and director Hiam Abbass, and is set to kick off on June 28 in Paris’ Institute du Monde Arab (Institute of the Arab World). The event will be inaugurated by Lebanese director Nadine Labaki and her critically-acclaimed political drama Capernaum, which tells the tale of a destitute boy living in Beirut who takes his parents to court for bringing him up in a despondent existence.
The 11-day festival aims to shed light on Arab films across all genres by screening more than 80 films, documentaries, shorts, and features, all directed and produced by Arab filmmakers. Additionally, a section of the festival will be exclusively dedicated to shorts from Saudi Arabia to celebrate the Kingdom’s recently lifted ban on movie theaters. Viewers can look forward to watching a selection of mainly short films, such as the Mohammed Alholayyil-directed 300 km and Zaina’s Cake by Nada AlMojadedi.
A jury, which consists of Moroccan director and actor Faouzi Bensaïdi, Saudi actress Fatima Al-Banawi, and Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy, will oversee the competitive line-up, which features recent titles hailing from the Arab world. Among the 13 titles competing are Palestinian director Muayad Alayan’s The Reports on Sarah and Salim, and Cannes titles My Favorite Fabric by Syrian filmmaker Gaya Jiji’s and Meryem Benm’Barek’s Sofia.
The first edition of Paris’s Arab Film Festival comes 12 years after the last Biennale des Cinéma Arabes, which launched in the French capital in 1992 before being scrapped in 2006, thereby reviving festival activities related to Arab cinema. “It opens a new cycle, full of promise,” said former French culture minister Jack Lang in a statement.