Friday, October 12, 2007


Todd Brown at Twitch may have beat me to the punch announcing Washington D.C.'s Arabian Sights Film Festival, but the 11th Annual Arab Film Festival ("AFF") beats them to the punch by starting up at least a week earlier, October 18-28, 2007 in the San Francisco Bay Area. How do you say "Neener neener neener" in Arabic?

Along with screenings in San Francisco, San Jose and Berkeley, AFF extends to Los Angeles this year. One of the most successful and anticipated San Francisco Bay Area film festivals, AFF is the largest exhibitor of exclusively Arab cinema in the United States, featuring national and West Coast premieres and engaging discussions with visiting filmmakers, family screenings, and educational outreach. More than 80 films, representing 13 countries, make up this year's line-up, including the first Lebanese vampire movie, a stylized neo-noir film set in Casablanca, an Iraqi love story, Egypt's latest break-out indie hit and a Jordanian documentary about finding peace through skateboarding. In addition, AFF offers the latest documentaries from Palestine and Iraq and explores stories of urban youth culture in Beirut, Casablanca, Tunis and Cairo. Anticipate some preview picks from Michael Hawley in the near future.

In her third year with the festival, Artistic Director Sonia El Feki has shaped the AFF line-up from films she personally selected from this year's Carthage Film Festival and Cairo Film Festival. A good 50% of the program is the result of her sojourn to these Mideast festivals, cherry picking the best, with the remaining 50% coming from submissions.

Opening night is the West Coast premiere of Tunisian director Nouri Bouzid's Making Of—winner of the Golden Tanit Award at the Carthage Film Festival—with lead actor Lotfi Abdelli accompanying the film. The Centerpiece presentation—in tandem with the First Annual Noor Awards Ceremony—will be the U.S. premiere of Egyptian director Hala Khalil's romantic comedy Cut and Paste.

Other highlights include Tunisian director Najib Belkadhi's documentary profile of Mouncef Kahloucha filmed during the making of Kahloucha's Tarzan of the Arabs. A huge hit among Tunisian expatriate communities in Europe, AFF will screen VHS Kahloucha and sponsor a panel discussion on "Birth of Arab Cinematic Kitsch?" Other panel discussions include "Mission Impossible? Producing A Film in the Arab World" and "Women, Resistance and Political Participation."

Check the AFF website for titles, times and venues.

Cross-published on Twitch.

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