Crisis and Creativity: Contemporary films from and about the Arab World
Dr Shohini Chaudhuri
How does your view of the Arab world change when you explore the stories of
everyday life that aren't featured in the mainstream media?
A number of catastrophic events have afflicted the Arab world in recent years, including
in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt. Western perceptions are distorted by the
priorities of mainstream news reports and Hollywood movies. This obscures the stories of
people’s everyday struggles.
Dr Shohini Chaudhuri curated a season of film screenings and talks for The Mosaic Rooms in
London, exploring how contemporary filmmaking from the Arab world challenges mainstream media
The films were selected to give a subtle insight into the lives of ordinary people living
through, and with the legacy of, the recent turbulent events.
The season celebrated the creativity, courage and resilience of filmmakers in the region, raising
awareness and understanding of the reality of living with political turmoil and the destruction
of their cities.
The project involved researching and developing the programme, booking films and speakers,
writing accompanying materials (including programme notes and blog features based on interviews
with filmmakers), generating publicity, and introducing the events.
The project partner, The Mosaic Rooms, is a gallery
specialising in contemporary art from and about the Arab world.
The season consisted of three public events, combining film screenings, expert panels including
filmmakers and scholars, and question and answer sessions.
- Space and Memory in the War-torn City
Eight short films about people's
relationships to cities in the Arab world that are being destroyed or altered by conflict.
- Politicising Tourism in Palestine
A screening of Leila Sansour's
documentary Open Bethlehem, followed by Leila taking part in discussions with an expert panel.
- Social Media as Archives of the Arab Uprisings
A screening of the documentary
Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait.
Feature blog articles
The events were accompanied by a series of interviews with filmmakers which were published on The Mosaic Rooms'
is when justice is retained somewhere, even if this somewhere is in the future
An interview with Ossama Mohammed, director
of Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait, and documentarist/researcher Zaher Omareen.
- Where creativity, ethics and the
heart all come together
An interview with Leila Sansour, director of Open Bethlehem, and researcher Ryvka Barnard.
through animation is my medium
An interview with Jalal Maghout, director of Suleima.
- I want to go
back and film
A Q&A with Iraqi filmmaker Maysoon Pachachi, producer of A Candle for the Shabandar Cafe.
- Hidden outside, but not hidden inside
with Yahya Al-Allaq and Andy Guy, director and assistant producer of War Canister, and Alia Arasoughly, Areej Abu Eid and Eslam
Elayan, producer and directors of Kamkameh.
The chosen themes were inspired by The Mosaic Rooms’ exhibitions programme, in order to create
a flow of debate between the films and the artwork in the gallery. All three events were sold-out.
- providing a platform for the filmmakers' work to be shown and discussed – two of the short
films had their UK premières and another had its English première
- changing views and perceptions among audiences by presenting a different angle on the Arab
- engagement with organisations with overlapping interests including Stop the War, Syria Solidarity
UK, Amnesty International UK, English PEN, the London Short Film Festival and the British Film Institute
- a change in working practices for The Mosaic Rooms with its first film season, attracting new,
younger and more diverse audiences
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