Special Report: 10th Annual Arab Film Festival - 2006; Report #2

By Joan K. Widdifield, Psy.D
Movie Magazine International
The 10th Annual Arab Film Festival got off to a great start last Friday, with both opening night screenings sold-out. Word has it that the patrons who could not get tickets to the films still had a great time at the party across the street from the Roxie Cinema with the George Lammam Ensemble. One of the opening night films, KISS ME NOT ON THE EYES, will screen again both in Berkeley and San Jose, with times listed on the program.

The 10th Arab Film Festival started on September 8 and will run until September 17. Tonight and tomorrow there are screenings at the Roxie Cinema in San Francisco, and on September 15 through 17 the screenings will be held in San Jose at the Camera 12, and in Berkeley at the California Theater.

On Thursday, September 14th, at 7:00 pm don't miss the opportunity to participate in a discussion with leading filmmakers featured in this year's Arab Film Festival, including Egyptian director of the award-winning SEEDS OF DOUBT, Samir Nasr, and Palestinian directors of OCCUPATION 101: VOICES OF THE SILENCED MAJORITY, Sufyan and Abdallah Omeish.

On Thursday, after the Panel Discussion, there is a Meet the Filmmakers Party with DJ Cheb I Sabbah at the Roe Restaurant (Upstairs Lounge) in San Francisco to mingle with the filmmakers and dance to the beats of DJ Cheb I Sabbah who merges classical Indian sounds with heavy Arabic and North African rhythms.

There are two Shorts programs that will screen, one about “Human Connections,” and the other about “Unusual Characters.” SACRAFICES, the feature film from Syria, which is co-presented with the Pacific Film Archive, screens on Thursday, September 14. This Cannes selection is a visually sumptuous fable about violence and power.

Due to popular demand, an additional screening of OCCUPATION 101 has been added. This 85-minute documentary purports to reveal what the American media doesn’t. Directed by Palestinian brothers Sufyan and Abdallah Omeish, it is narrated by Alison Weir, Journalist and founder of “If Americans Knew.” In the beginning, she states that American mainstream media, tell us only a small fraction of the story about the Israeli-Palestinian history and conflict.

Weir says we are led to believe that the conflict goes back thousands of years, but in reality, it wasn’t until 1920 that the first clashes between Jews and Palestinians began, as land began to be stripped away from the Palestinians. Before that Jews, Muslims and Christians lived peaceably in Palestine. Palestine was over 90% Muslim, and it was the only place in the world where Jews flourished in a time when they were being persecuted in Europe.

Jeff Halper, from the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolition says, “The bottom line in all of this is to make the Palestinians leave the country; … in a sense, it’s kind of an ethnic cleansing.” Israeli Human rights lawyer, Allegra Pacheco says that Palestinians don’t have civil rights under military rule because they are not citizens. OCCUPATION 101 is a fascinating and heart rending chronicle of the Palestinian legacy since the early 1900’s, and just one of the many documentaries, dramas, and short you will find at the Arab Film Festival.

It’s a good idea to purchase your tickets online to make sure you can get a ticket, and avoid the rush at the door! Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.aff.org or at the door.

See you at the 10th Annual Arab Film Festival! For Movie Magazine, this is Joan Widdifield.

Air date: September 12, 2006
More Information:
10th Annual Arab Film Festival - 2006; Report #2
Bashir Anastas, Executive Director; Sonia El-Feki, Artistic Director