We have searched, watched and worked hard to secure the best films from and about the Arab world. The result is 22 films that engage, touch, enlighten and make you both laugh and cry.
The entire program can be found here
More info on tickets can be found here
This year's program is packed with films that have participated in major film festivals and garnered praise from international film critics. The Tunisian drama A Son, made by feature film debutant Mehdi M. Barsaoui, will be opening this year's festival. Barsaoui is one of the guests this year, and will be present at the opening of the festival.
The film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year, was described by Variety's Jay Weissberg in this way: "Not many debuting directors are able to bring subtlety and depth to a heart-rending subject, which is just one reason why Mehdi M Barsaoui's superb "A Son" deserves significant attention. " Read the full review in Variety here.
Elia Suleiman is perhaps Palestine's most famous director, with several international feature films behind him. His latest film, which appeared in last year's main competition in Cannes, will be this year's closing film. Indiewire describes the film in this way: "Suleiman's always a reliable charmer, with a penchant for funneling the language of Jacques Tati and Buster Keaton into moving-image editorials about his troubled homeland." Read the full review in Indiewire here.
On this year's program we have five films that have received Norwegian distribution in cinema. Three of them are Maryam (formerly The Perfect Candidate) from Saudi Arabia, Papicha from Algeria and Arab Blues from Tunisia. All films are made by strong female directors who have shown the films at renowned international film festivals. If you want to know more about the fight for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, you should head to the first screening of Maryam on Thursday, March 19 at 17:30.
Two other films with strong female characters are Moroccan Adam which has clear similarities to last year's opening film, Sofia. The other, Noura's Dream is about a woman's endless battle against patriarchy and starring Hind Sabri in the lead role.
Unge Ahmed (Young Ahmed), which is Belgian and directed by the Dardenne brothers, deals with the radicalization of young people in Europe and had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019. The film premieres to the cinema in May, but we are hosting a special screening of the film at the festival's last day with a panel conversation. This year's program also includes Lebanese 1982 and You Will Die at Twenty, which was shown in Norway for the first time during Film from the South in November, as well as the horror film Achoura from Morocco.
Trailer A Son
The documentary film genre is strengthening itself as an art form and is undergoing interesting development. We are proud to have as many as 11 documentaries in this year's program. Two of them, For Sama and The Cave, were nominated for an Oscar earlier this month and are two strong testimonies of the war in Syria.
In Advocate, we meet Defense Attorney Lea Tsemel, who specializes in defending Palestinians in the Israeli justice system, while 143 Sahara Street is a unique portrait of Malika, who owns a gas station far out in the Algerian desert.
In this year's documentary program, we also get to know the female plumbers Khawla and Aisha from Jordan in Waterproof, the military denier Atalya from Israel in Objector, and Let's Talk tell the story of a very special family from Egypt.
Tiny Souls deals with the escape of the war in Syria, and the refugee camp Zaatari in Jordan, where the siblings Marwa, Ayah and Mahmoud live. We are very pleased to have director Dina Naser at this year's festival. She participates in a panel discussion after the film on Friday, March 20 at. 18:30, read more here. There will also be a panel discussion after the documentary on Robert Fisk, This is not a Movie, Saturday March 21, 16:00. We are also proud to feature the short film With Abu Jamal on this year's program as well as a welcomed return of Khartoum Offside.
Trailer The Cave