Discover Arab Cinema, BFI, London

Arab cinema is celebrated in a specially curated programme, Discover Arab Cinema, at BFI for an entire year. The season combines contemporary Arab films with classics from the past, and includes shorts and feature length films. Providing a dedicated platform from the region, the event investigates a significant film producing territory which has often been overlooked in the UK. Also connecting with some relevant political issues the films acknowledges the current struggles in Eygpt and Syria.

Discover Arab Cinema will be arranged monthly by theme, genre or region, allowing for a variety of insights into the diverse output. The season opened in November and until January 2014 the focus is contemporary Egyptian cinema, the Family in Middle Eastern societies and Algerian cinema.

In December audiences can expect to see Hold Back by Rachid Djaidani, The Last Friday by Yahia Al Abdallah, Atash by Tawfic Abu Wael and Le Grand Voyage by Ismael Faroukhi. These four films all deal with the theme of family in their own distinctive way. Hold Back won the Critic’s Prize at Cannes and follows Sabrina, a young North African woman who falls in love with a black Christian. They plan to get married, but when rumour gets out about their engagement the eldest of Sabrina’s 40 brothers is opposed to the union and becomes determined that Sabrina should stay faithful to familial and community traditions.

Tawfik Abu Wael’s first feature, Thirst, won the International Critics’ Prize at Cannes and was a ground-breaking collaboration between a Palestinian writer/director and an Israeli producer, financiers and crew. The final two films in the December programme, The Last Friday and Le Grand Voyage look at the relationships between father and son.

Discover Arab Cinema, November 2013 onwards, BFI Southbank, London, SE1 8XT.

1. Last Days, courtesy BFI.