Dossier: Arab Cinema

Poster for the film "Ladder to Damascus" by Mohammad Malas

Mohammad Malas's film "Ladder to Damascus"

Between dream and disaster

In his new film, "Ladder to Damascus", the renowned Syrian filmmaker Mohammad Malas has succeeded in portraying the whole tragedy of the Syrian conflict without depicting any scenes of violence. By Charlotte BankMore

Cover of the book "Contemporary Artists – Arab World" (source: Steidl-Verlag)

Book review: "Contemporary Artists – Arab World"

Perceptions of reality

The book "Contemporary Artists – Arab World" shows how different Arab artists have reacted to the upheaval in their countries. By Kersten KnippMore

A girl holds up a poster of Amina al-Filali, victim of rape and forced marriage in Morocco (photo: Naqi Tbel)

Women in Morocco

Rape victims no longer forced to marry their aggressors

Although Morocco has done away with a controversial law allowing rapists of underage girls to escape prosecution if they marry their victims, the basic problem of rape remains. Activists say it's time to enact change in society to protect rape victims. By Monika GriebelerMore

Still from the film "Freedom Bus" (photo: dropoutcinema)

Documentary film: "Freedom Bus"

On the rocky road to democracy

In 2011, the German-Iranian film director Fatima Geza Abdollahyan followed the "Freedom Bus" on its tour of Egypt. Along the way, she experienced many of the difficulties the campaign encountered in its attempts to raise awareness of the principles of democracy. Nevertheless, the resulting film makes compelling viewing. By Maha El NabawiMore

Poster for the documentary film “Not Who We Are” by Carol Mansour (source: Forward Film Production)

Documentary film: "Not Who We Are"

Lost time in Lebanon

The stigma of being refugees, the lack of privacy and an uncertain future – these are just some of the problems that Syrian women face in Lebanon. The renowned filmmaker Carol Mansour tells their stories in her touching documentary "Not Who We Are". By Jannis HagmannMore

Film scene from “Bethlehem” (photo: real fiction film distribution)

Israeli cinema: "Bethlehem"

Beloved enemy

The friendship between an Israeli intelligence officer and his Palestinian informant makes for an explosive subject. Film director Yuval Adler takes up the theme in his gripping thriller "Bethlehem". Annabelle Steffes watched the filmMore

Scene from "Al Oustadh" (copyright: Mahmoud Ben Mahmoud)

North Africa and the Arab Spring in Film

Between Rebellion and Ideals

North African countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, and Algeria are currently experiencing a boom in cinema that is critical of society and committed to political change. Yet, every country follows its own path. By Aude GensbittelMore

Caroline Link's Film "Exit Marrakech"

Understanding the Cultural "Other"

With her exquisite and sensitive film "Exit Marrakech", Caroline Link demonstrates genuine openness towards Morocco – the beauty of its landscape, the social diversity, and the country's cultural wealth, as well as for its social extremes and contradictions. A review by Christoph LeistenMore

Leila Bekhti (photo: Tiberius Film)

Sexual Repression in the Arab World

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Anguish, Love and Poetry

The film "The Source" tells the story of women living in a North African village who enter into a "love strike" because they are fed up with doing all the work. In conversation with Paul Katzenberger, director Radu Mihăileanu talks about marital rape, parallels with the West and the poetic qualities of the Arabic language. By Paul KatzenbergerMore

Mass demonstration on Tahrir Square (photo: Reuters)

Revolutionary Films in the Arab World

Taking Stock

What is the significance of film during and after revolutions? In recent years, many films have been made in Egypt and Tunisia, although the viewpoints of the filmmakers could hardly be more different. By Irit NeidhardtMore

Film poster by 'Heureux le Martyr' by Habib Mestiri (photo: Dyonisos)

Political Documentary Films from Tunisia

At the Eye of Tunisia's Political Storm

Not one, but two new Tunisian documentary films focus on the politically motivated assassinations of Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi. The results couldn't be more different: while Habib Mestiri observes, Youssef Ben Ammar gets right into the thick of things, filming like a political activist. Two generations, two different approaches, two very different outcomes. Christina Omlin watched both filmsMore

Roman Paul (photo: © DW/Bernd Sobolla)

Saudi Arabia's First Feature Film "Wadjda"

"It's Not Just about Suppression"

"Wadjda" is the first feature film ever made in Saudi Arabia. One of its German producers tells Bernd Sobolla about the daring women involved, and how his own perception of Saudi Arabia changed in the processMore

Ahd Kamel (photo: © Ahd Kamel)

Interview with the Saudi Filmmaker Ahd Kamel

''We Live in a Modern World Governed by Ancient Rules''

The film Sanctity tells the story of Areej, a young, pregnant Saudi widow, who will do anything to protect her unborn child. Kamel not only wrote and directed the film, she also played the leading role. It was shot on location in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and is her second film. Igal Avidan met her in Berlin and asked her about women's rights and film-making in a country that has no cinemas.More

The Saudian girl Wadjda in Haifa al-Mansur's movie 'Wadjda' (photo: Razor Film)

The Saudi Arabian Film ''Wadjda''

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A Children's Story in a Grown-Up World

Wadjda is the first feature film from Saudi Arabia to be directed by a woman. Despite receiving support from the royal family, filming was very difficult for the German-Saudi film team. Nevertheless, the resulting film both tells a touching story and is a delicately nuanced critique of Saudi society. Jannis Hagmann watched the filmMore

Children playing on a destroyed Syrian tank in Aleppo (photo: AP/Muhammed Muheisen)

Ifa exhibition: Syrian Short Films and Videos

Somwhere between Art and Activism

How have Syria's independent artists been addressing the escalating violence in their native country since the start of the uprising against the Assad regime? For the first time ever, the ifa-Galerie in Berlin is showing videos and short films by Syrian artists inspired by the revolution in an exhibition entitled "Bewegte Bilder" (Moving Images). By Charlotte BankMore

Paolo Remati (photo: Paolo Remati)

Cinematic Arts in Jordan

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Empowering People to Tell Their Own Stories

Jordan does not have a long history of cinematic arts, but at the Red Sea Institute for Cinematic Arts in Aqaba students learn how to make films, being encouraged to critical debate and discourse. An interview with Paolo Remati, head of the instituteMore

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