Cinema: Venice opens door on Arab world’s social issues

Saudi filmmaker and Arab revolts at 69th Festival

06 August, 13:58

(ANSAmed) - ROME, AUGUST 6 - The 69th edition of the Venice International Film Festival on August 29-September 8 will showcase feature works on the Arab world, its social issues and call for democracy. "Wadjda", the first movie by a woman filmmaker in Saudi Arabia, Haifaa Al Mansour, will be screened alongside work on the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions as told respectively by Ibrahim El Batout in "Winter of discontent" and Hinde Boujemaa in "It was better tomorrow".

"My first movie will talk about a story like many others", Haifaa Al Mansour, the first woman to become a filmmaker in Saudi Arabia, told ANSAmed in an interview over a year ago. "An 11-year-old girl wants to ride a bicycle in a society banning women from all sports which are considered for men only".

Al Mansour started making short films a decade ago, paving the way for a group of women filmmakers who have followed suit. It took her three years to finish her movie and take 'Wadjda' to Venice. The film is the first to be entirely shot with a Saudi cast in Saudi Arabia, a country where movie theatres are banned.

"The only chance we get to watch a movie is with DVDs or private screenings or by driving all the way to Bahrain", she said.

Also within the 'Orizzonti' (horizon) section, the latest work by independent Egyptian filmmaker El Batout will focus on the Tahir Square revolt. 'Winter of discontent' is co-produced and interpreted by Amr Waked, the protagonist in Italy of 'Il padre e lo straniero' (2010), or the father and the foreigner, with Alessandro Gassman by Ricky Tognazzi. He also acted in 'Syriana' (2005) with George Clooney.

The film focuses on the relationships of tree characters - Amr, a programmer of personal computers, the journalist Farah, his fiancée, and Salah, a security official -with as background the Egyptian revolution.

"Yema" by Algerian filmmaker Djamila Sahraoui, talks about a family during the years of terrorism in the Maghreb country.

Also within the 'Orizzonti' category, 'Somewhere in between' by Turkish filmmaker and screenwriter Yesim Ustaoglu will be screened.

The documentary "It was better tomorrow" by Hinde Boujemaa will focus on the Tunisian revolt as it was lived by women. The film is not competing for an award as well as the work of Daniele Vicari 'La dolce nave' (the sweet ship) on the "Vlora" ship which carried 20,000 Albanians to Bari, and "Witness: Libya" by Abdallah Omeish, which focuses on war reporters in Libya and was produced by US network HBO.

A number of Israeli films will also be shown at the festival directed by Alberto Barbera. "Fill the void" by Rama Burshtein, which is running for an award; Amow Gitai with "Carme", out of competition; "Lullaby to my father" by Idan Hubel and Manatek Ha-Maim with "The Cutoff Man".

"Water" by Nir Sa'Ar, Maya Sarfaty and Mohammad Fuad (Israel/Palestine/France) will be part of a special event out of competition.

Among the first feature films to be screened within the critics' section is "Muffa" by Ali Aydin (Turkey and Germany). An independent section by the association of Italian filmmakers ANAC and 100 authors has also scheduled the screening of "Inheritance" by Hiam Abbass (France, Israel, Turkey) and "Epilogue" by Amir Manor (Israel). (ANSAmed)
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