My Sweet Pepperland

From 9 to 14 April 2014, the fifth edition of Middle East Now will present a rich program of around 50 screenings of feature filmsdocumentaries, animated films and short films from Iran, Morocco, Palestine, Iraq, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Afghanistan, Syria, Qatar and Algeria.

Among the highlights at this edition, the first retrospective of the acclaimed Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad, focus on contemporary cinema from Morocco, Iraq and Qatar, the Italian premiere of the documentary RETURN TO HOMS, one of the most impressive documentaries on the Syrian revolution, Grand Jury Prize at the last Sundance Film Festival, and much more. Here are some of the news’ of this edition:

OMAR film by Hany Abu-Assad 3
, one of the most talented and award-winning Palestinian filmmakers , will be the special guest of Middle East Now 2014. Already nominated for an Academy Award with the film “Paradise Now”, he will be in Florence to present the Italian premiere of his latest film “Omar” – the thriller “Grand Jury Prize” at the Cannes Film Festival, winner of the festival of Dubai, and candidate  to the Academy Awards 2014 for Best Foreign Film – and with the screening of some of his most famous title (“The Fourteenth Chick”, “Rana ‘s Wedding”, “Paradise Now”, and the documentaries “Nazareth 2000” and “Ford Transit”) .

RETURN TO HOMS_many of Baset's friends lost their lives
From SYRIA, the Italian premiere of the amazing documentary RETURN TO HOMS by the director Talal Derki, winner of the “World Cinema Grand Jury Prize” at the last Sundance Film Festival. The film is the intimate portrait of a group of young revolutionaries in the Syrian city of Homs, and in particular the charismatic Basset – 19 years goalkeeper of the Syrian national team – and Ossama, young media activist and pacifist. In Florence there will be the director Talal Derki, the producer Orwa Nyrabia, founder of the famous festival of documentaries of Damascus and activist, who in August 2013 was arrested by the government secret services, and kept in prison for more than a month. With them also Hans-Robert Eisenhauer, German producer of the film.

Rock the Casbah
And then the great cinema from MOROCCO with the special section “Morocco on the Wave”, to present the different facets of his contemporary society. Among the various titles in the program, the Italian premiere of the award-winning documentary CAMERA / WOMAN by Karima Zoubir, which investigates with great intimacy the life of Khadija, a young divorced woman and who lives working “scandalously” as cameraman for weddings in Casablanca; together with the acclaimed ROCK THE CASBAH of Laïla Marrakchi, bittersweet comedy that revolves around a funeral that for three days brings together a family, and it is an opportunity to look back and share memories, with an exceptional cast including Hiam Abbas, Nadine Labaki and Omar Sharif.

My Sweet Pepperland_Korkmaz Arslan

Great attention to the cinema from IRAQ, with a selection of films and shorts from one of the most troubled countries in this part of the world, but with so many young aspiring filmmakers. The program will feature 6 short films by young emerging filmmakers, the Italian premiere of the incredible documentary WHISPER OF THE CITY by Kasim Abid, observational fwork about the daily life of three cities famous only for the bad news in the international media, as Baghdad, Erbil and Ramallah. And then the contemporary western MY SWEET PEPPERLAND by the Iraqi-Kurdish director Hiner Saleem, set between humor and fantasy in the Kurdistan of today, starring the beautiful Iranian star Golshifteh Farahani and acclaimed Turkish-German actor Korkmaz Arslan.

Bader_immagine film
The section WINDOW ON QATAR, dedicated to the new cinema from one of the countries most developing in the Middle East, which is mostly known for the richness terms of oil oil. The program includes the most recent works of young filmmakers, with 10 titles, including short fiction, documentary, short and animated films.

SEPIDEH_Reaching for the Stars 2
Even some of the best titles of contemporary cinema from IRAN, which reflect the changes and openings going on in the country. Among the titles in Italian Premiere, directly from Sundance Festival the documentary SEPIDEH SEARCHING FOR THE STARS by Berit Madsen, the tells the tenacity of a young girl who lives in a rural town in Iran, dreaming to become a famous astronomer; DARBAND (Trapped) of Parviz Shabbazi, an intense Farhadhi-style feature film, about the loss of innocence of a young student arriving in Tehran from the province; and then the acclaimed FISH & CAT, first feature of the young director Shahram Mokri, winner of a special prize for innovation at Orizzonti section of the Venice Film Festival, a dark comedy shot on the shores of the Caspian Sea, filmed in a long and virtuoso piano sequence.

Rags & Tatters
And among the other titles in the program from EGYPT the latest film by the acclaimed Ahmad Abdalla, RAGS & TATTERS, one of the most talented young Egyptian directors, authorial story that reflects on the failure of the ideals of Tahrir Square; and from AFGHANISTAN, among the others, the intense documentary NO BURQA BEHIND THE BARS by director Nima Sarvestani, which for the first time gives a voice without filters to 40 women locked in the prison of Takhar.

No Burqas Behind Bars_1

In the coming days it will be released an update of the complete film program of Middle East Now 2014.


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