Middle East

Short Films from the New Arab World

'Short Films from the New Arab World' is a collection of five ground-breaking short films by emerging film directors, which reflect on current realities around the region.

Screenings will be introduced by the directors and followed by a panel discussion and Q&A

Panel Chair: David Batty, Weekend Digital Editor, The Guardian

Panel Members: Sondos Shabayek, director of Girl; Darin Sallam, director of The Dark Outside; Omar Robert Hamilton, director of Though I Know the River is Dry; Anna Fahr, director of Transit Game

Xenos, short film

Image copyright Mahdi Fleifel
Image caption 'Xenos' is a short documentary about the day-to-day struggle for survival and enduring sense of exile suffered by a group of young Palestinians
Image copyright Mahdi Fleifel
Image caption Mahdi Fleifel

(Greek: ξένος, xénos) stranger, enemy, alien. In 2010, Abu Eyad and other young Palestinian men from the Ain El-Helweh refugee camp in Lebanon travelled with smugglers through Syria and Turkey into Greece. Like so many other migrants, they came looking for a way into Europe but found themselves trapped in a country undergoing economic, political, and social collapse. Xenos is a short film blending footage shot on visits to Athens in 2011 with phone conversations recorded during Abu Eyad's time there. It tells of his day to day struggle for survival and enduring sense of exile in a land of hope that has become a nightmare.

Director: Mahdi Fleifel is a Palestinian filmmaker. His recent feature documentary, A World Not Ours (2012), won multiple awards including the Abu Dhabi, Berlin and Edinburgh Film Festivals. His next feature, Men In the Sun, based on the themes and characters encountered while making Xenos (2014), is currently in development as part of the New Danish Screen scheme.

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Media caption'Xenos' is a short documentary about the day-to-day struggle for survival and enduring sense of exile.

Girl, short film

Image copyright Sondos Shabayek
Image caption 'Girl' is a light-hearted reflection on how Cairo society perceives women.
Image copyright Sondos Shabayek
Image caption Sondos Shabayek

Ever since the 2011 revolution in Egypt, dozens of women have come forward about their experience with sexual harassment on the streets. Since then, a number of individuals and organisations have begun to monitor and help combat the situation. In this short film, Sondos Shabayek offers an animated reflection on how she believes Cairo society perceives women. In her signature style, Sondos uses a variety of characters and expressions to light-heartedly explore this serious issue. The audience is taken on a girl's experience of walking down a street -simultaneously sharing her journey and her responses.

Director: Sondos Shabayek is a writer, storyteller and theatre director based in Cairo. In 2009, she directed the women's performance The BuSSy Project. She later went on to direct the acclaimed 2011 Tahrir Monologues, conveying a series of stories from the revolution. Her two short self-portrait videos, Oh Fear and I Am Not My Veil preceded Girl, her first short film.

The Dark Outside, short film

Image copyright Darin Sallam
Image caption 'The Dark Outside' looks at friendship and imagination as sources of radiance.
Image copyright Darin Sallam
Image caption Darin Sallam

Twelve-year-old Nina lives in a strict and obstinate society. Her greatest fear in life is darkness. At school one day, she goes through a series of events which make her realise that real darkness is more than the absence of light. Made in 2012, this short film looks at friendship and imagination as sources of radiance. The Dark Outside was selected by the Short Film Corner of the 2013 International Cannes Film Festival. It has also won several awards including Best Short Narrative Film at the 2012 Franco Arab Film Festival in Jordan and 1st prize at the `Women Issues' category at the 2012 Pentedattilo Film Festival in Italy.

Director: Darin Sallam is a Jordanian filmmaker. Sallam has made four short films between 2009 and 2012 and has won several awards including the MBC Group's International Competition, the Digicon Competition for Short Films in Japan and the European Film Festival in Jordan. She is currently working on her first feature narrative film project.

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Media caption'The Dark Outside' looks at friendship and imagination as sources of radiance.

Though I Know the River is Dry, short film

Image copyright Omar Robert Hamilton
Image caption 'Though I Know the River is Dry' imagines one man's choice between leaving Palestine for his child's future and staying because of his brother's past. Directed by Omar Robert Hamilton.
Image copyright Omar Robert Hamilton
Image caption Omar Robert Hamilton

Omar Robert Hamilton's third short film turns on a man's choice between his child's future and his brother's past, as he journeys through Palestine reliving the choices that took him to America and the forces of history now pushing him home. Though I Know the River is Dry premiered in competition at Rotterdam where it won the Prix UIP and was nominated for Best Short Film at the 2013 European Film Awards. It has gone on to play at many major festivals, winning top prizes at Abu Dhabi and Yerevan.

Director: Omar Robert Hamilton is an independent filmmaker, a producer of the Palestine Festival of Literature and a founding member of Cairo's Mosireen Media Collective. Alongside his film work he writes semi-regularly for journalism collective, Mada Masr, and is currently assembling a feature documentary on the Egyptian revolution.

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Media caption'Though I Know the River is Dry'imagines one man's choice between leaving for his child's future and staying because of his brother's past

Transit Game, short film

Image copyright Anna Fahr
Image caption 'Transit Game' takes place in the northern mountains of Lebanon where a brief encounter provides a glimpse into the commonality of ongoing refugee experiences.
Image copyright Anna Fahr
Image caption Anna Fahr

In the northern mountains of Lebanon, eleven-year-old Saad and Nada spend their days peddling newspapers to drivers who pass by. When a Syrian man named Mohammad runs out of gas, leaving his car stranded along the side of the road, Saad takes him to a nearby service station. On the way they learn more about each other: Mohammad's escape from Syria and Saad and Nada's families' exile from Palestine. Their encounter on this empty road provides a glimpse into the shared uncertainties they face as refugees with no place to return to and no country to call home.

Director: Anna Fahr is an Iranian-Canadian filmmaker based in Beirut. Her 2006 documentary Khaneh Ma: These Places We Call Home screened at international festivals and was theatrically released in Montreal. Anna holds a BFA in Filmmaking from Concordia University, Quebec and an MA in Film and Middle Eastern Studies from New York University.

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