FLORENCE, ITALY – The peaceful Yemeni uprising, the return to Tahrir Square after the fall of the Mubarak regime, responsibility for the murder of the former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafiq Hariri, and the massacres in Syria all feature at Middle East Now, the international festival of cinema, exhibitions and talks on the Middle East, which is returning to Florence this year.
The event will be held between April 12 and 16 at the Odeon cinema and the Stensen Auditorium and will feature 30 films, documentaries and shorts, 25 of them being premiered in Italy and in Europe. Some 20 directors and actors will also be present.
The stage-by-stage journey is an idea by Roberto Ruta and Lisa Chiari from the Map of Creation association and involves the most agitated areas of the Middle East, namely Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Yemen, Syria, Qatar, Bahrain, Kurdistan and Afghanistan. Highlights of the third edition of the event include Sean McAllister’s “The Reluctant Revolutionary”, the only film to tell the story of the peaceful uprising in Yemen, or the world premiere of “#Syria”, a film by Hamza al-Abdullah that tells the story of the Syrian revolution through the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, and the role that they played in mobilising young people and the collective conscience.
Other important works include unseen footage from Syria, “Back to the Square” by Peter Lom, which tells the story of the return to Tahrir Square in the aftermath of the revolution in Egypt, and Danielle Arbid’s “Beirut Hotel”, which has been censored in Lebanon over claims surrounding the murder of the former Prime Minister, Rafiq Hariri.
New features at this year’s event include a section entitled “Animation and Cartoons from the Middle East”, which will see the screening of six chapters of “Wikisham”, the series of cartoons on the revolution in Syria created by a group of illustrators who fled the country, and which ridicules the regime of Bashar Al Assad. There is also a tribute to Edgar Aho, one of Lebanon’s famous cartoonists, and his team of illustrators from the private Lebanese channel, Future TV.
The section dedicated to short films will feature ten works from the Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Lebanon and Bahrain. These include “Blue Line” by Alain Sauma, which tells the story of a thirsty Lebanese cow who crosses the Israeli border, and Ossama Bawardi’s “Haneen”, a joint Jordanian and Palestinian short film starring the famous Palestinian intellectual and author, Suad Amiry, who will meet members of the public during the event.
Special events include two projects never previously staged in Italy. “In the Light of Darkeness”, by the young American photo reporter Kate Brooks, is the autobiographical journey of the photographer who, immediately after September 11, at the age of 23, decides to leave for Afghanistan and who has spent the last 10 years documenting the wars and the changes in society in almost all of the most delicate parts of the Middle East; the wars in Iraq and Lebanon, life in Tehran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the revolutions in Egypt and Libya.
The other exhibition will be “Listen”, by the Iranian photographer, Newsha Tavakolian. Photos and videos will include six portraits of famous Iranian singers, who are banned from performing in public or releasing music in their country because of religious dictates. Two round table debates will also bring together a number of figures from the world of culture, including directors, writers, journalists and professors.