Up to date Arab films throw light on complex world

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THE Arab Film Festival Australia is upon us again, now in its 13th year, opening tonight in its Canberra edition and running to Sunday.

MAY IN THE SUMMER | Jordan, Qatar, Lebanon, USA | 2013 | 100 min
MAY IN THE SUMMER | Jordan, Qatar, Lebanon, USA | 2013 | 100 min

The festival, founded in 2001, has seen over 23,000 through the doors to see Arab cinema from filmmakers in Australia, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, Jordan, France, Canada, UK, USA, UAE, Kuwait, Sweden and Japan.

We’ll get six films here, and as usual, they are right up to date, even as revolutions continue to play out in many parts of the Arab world, with no winners in sight.

Ironically, it just such complexity that make for good film-making, and the movies in this year’s line-up are politically charged narratives that capture the times.

Opening night at the National Film and Sound Archive tonight, Friday August 29 at 6.30pm is “Scheherazade’s Diary,” proving a rare insight into women’s prisons.

Then tomorrow, Saturday, August 30 at 3.30pm will be “Ten Years of My Life,” a doco which takes an alternative perspective on the 2003 American invasion of Iraq by focusing focus its effect on the often forgotten female artists, journalists and middle class women in Iraq.

Also on Saturday at 5.30pm is “When I Saw You,” billed as a first-ever look at the secret camps of the Freedom Fighters of the Palestinian Resistance in 1967.

FACTORY GIRL | Egypt | 2013 | 92 min
FACTORY GIRL | Egypt | 2013 | 92 min

On Sunday, August 31 at 2.30pm is “Factory Girl,” depicting the struggle of love between classes in a contemporary Egyptian society.

The Festival closes at 4.30pm on Sunday, August 31 in Canberra with “May in the Summer” (2013), a story of love and family set against the backdrop of changing Arab culture and values.

The Arab Film Festival Australia, at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, McCoy Circuit, Acton, August 29-31, bookings to nfsa.gov.au or tickets at the door $14.00 Full / $12.50 Concession / Max pass eligible.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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