A window on contemporary Arab culture
1-16 July 2017
Shubbak, London’s festival of contemporary Arab culture, has become a key event in the arts calendar of the UK and the Arab World, and 2017 will be the 4th edition of this biennial festival. It returns with a wide, diverse, exciting and thought-provoking programme celebrating extraordinary artistic skills and future- looking imaginations whilst reflecting on the fragility, resilience and challenges of artists in times of crisis. Shubbak grew out of the emergence of the ‘Arab Spring’ in 2011 and offers audiences the opportunity to engage with hopes, ambitions and artistic excellence from across the Arab world.
Eckhard Thiemann, artistic director of Shubbak says: At a time when the world feels more fragile and less secure, we have travelled far and wide and also looked in our own city to discover and commission Arab artists who reflect deeply on our times. There will be bold statements and brave works tackling urgent issues like migration and the desire for freedom, but we will also hear quiet, intimate and personal reflections which touch us with gentle emotions.
This year’s festival showcases art, music, theatre, film, literature, debates, dance and spoken word. The festival includes over 150 artists, originating from 14 Arab countries at over 80 events during 16 days. Venues and partners for 2017 include the Barbican, Sadler’s Wells, Southbank Centre, Tate Modern, Serpentine Galleries, the British Museum, British Library, Royal Opera House, The Mosaic Rooms, Young Vic, Arcola Theatre, Gasworks, Cine Lumiere, Rich Mix and many more.
Presented in a major partnership with the Arab Fund for Arts & Culture the film programme is titled ‘Reframing Narratives’ and explores artistic responses to crises. Drawn from recent releases and including UK premieres, themed events explore how artists’ imaginations chip away at conventional viewpoints and will largely take place at presenting partner Barbican Cinema. Curated and produced by BAFTA nominated programmer and producer Elhum Shakerifar (A Syrian Love Story, 2015) to explore the concepts of conflict in perspective and imagined futures – a reframing of the MENA narrative.
SHUBBAK FILM PROGRAMME LISTINGS
CINE LUMIERE, INSTITUT FRANÇAIS ,17 Queensberry Place, SW7 2DT
INSTITUTFRANCAIS.ORG.UK ( 020 7871 3515)
FAROUK, BESIEGED LIKE ME
+ Q&A WITH DIR. HALA ALABDALLA
MON 3 JULY | 8.20PM | £12-£10
FRANCE-SYRIA, 2016 (90 MINS)
In this deeply personal documentary, veteran Syrian documentarian Hala Alabdalla invites us to dinner
with writer and editor Farouk Mardam-Bey, for a thought-provoking reflection on Syria, culture and identity. Based in France for the last 50 years, Farouk Mardam Bey is a Syrian publisher who has dedicated his life to
promoting contemporary Arab philosophy and poetry. In the intimacy of his kitchen, he attempts to dissipate
the fog around Syria with Hala Alabdalla and her team, paying tribute to the Syrian people’s resistance with a feast celebrating culture and identity.
CINEMA 2, BARBICAN, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS
BARBICAN.ORG.UK (020 7638 8891)
IMAGINED FUTURES SHORTS
+ Q&A WITH LARISSA SANSOUR
TUE 4 JULY | 6.30PM|£10.80-£13.50
Shorts from the region’s most exciting new voices present a rich mix of sci-fi, animation and drama spliced with humour, charm and prescience. Capturing the dilemmas lived by many on the Mediterranean shores,
directors Rana Kazkaz and Anas Khalaf reflect a Syrian parent’s choices to save his daughter in ‘Mare Nostrum’.
Chadi Aoun’s award-wininng animation ‘Silence’ exposes the secret codes of silent creative resistance in the authoritarian darkness of a dysfunctional society. Selma and her mother both struggle with their life decisions and futures in Batoul Benazzou’s subtly observed drama ‘Selma’.
In ‘Nation Estate’ Multi-disciplinary artist Larissa Sansour offers a dystopian, humorous and vertical solution to Palestinian statehood: one colossal skyscraper housing the entire Palestinian population, now finally
living the high life.
In Mounia Akl’s ‘Submarine’, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival 2016, wild child Hala stubbornly refuses to evacuate her derelict house when the garbage crisis in Lebanon causes her whole village to flee.
IRAQ: WAR, LOVE, GOD & MADNESS
+ INTRODUCTION BY MAYSOON PACHACHI
WED 5 JULY | 8.30PM | £8.40-£10.50
DIR. MOHAMED AL DARADJI, IRAQ, 2008 (83 MINS)
In 2003, Baghdad-born Mohamed Al-Daradji returned home after a decade in exile to film
Ahlaam the second feature shot in Iraq post-Saddam Hussein. This documentary follows the idealistic young director as he realises his dream in bizarre and turbulent circumstances. With its improvised form and unpredictable course the film reflects the incredible risks confronting filmmakers in ‘liberated’ Iraq and celebrates Iraqi people’s spirit to survive amid overwhelming social and political chaos. Named Variety’s Middle Eastern Filmmaker of the Year in 2011, Mohamed Al-Daradji is one of the most prominent directors working in Iraq today;his multi award-winning films Ahlaam, Son of Babylon and In My Mother’s Arms have screened at festivals including Sundance, Toronto and Berlin.
THE UK PREMIERE OF
THE LAST OF US
+ Q&A WITH DIRECTOR ALA EDDINE SLIM
TUNISIA, 2016 (95 MINS)
THU 6 JULY | 8.30PM | £10.80 – £13.50
Distinctive and bold, ‘The Last of Us’ tells the story of ‘N’, an anonymous sub-Saharan man on a journey
to Europe. Reflecting on the question of borders and contemporary solitude, Slim oscillates between
a recognisable reality and magical realism as N finds himself in an enchanted – perhaps imaginary – territory.
‘The Last of Us’ was lauded at Venice Film Festival for its unpredictable narrative, striking
cinematography and layered boundary pushing reflection on migration today. Tunisian director Ala Eddine Slim has experimented with form and content across genres, documentary and video series. His award-winning work has screened at festivals including FID Marseille and Clermont Ferrand, as well as at MoMA in New York, and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.
THE UK PREMIERE OF
OFF FRAME (AKA REVOLUTION UNTIL VICTORY)
+ Q&A WITH DIRECTOR MOHANAD YAQUBI
PALESTINE, 2016 (80 MINS)
FRI 7 JULY | 8.30PM | £12
Image construction and representation is at the heart of Yaqubi’s directorial debut, which reflects on the
Palestinian people’s struggle to produce an image on their own terms in the 60s and 70s, with the
establishment of the Palestine Film Unit as part of the PLO. Told through rarely seen footage from archives
across the world, ‘Off Frame’ fills a gap in collective memory from a distinctly and seldom seen Palestinian
perspective, deftly bringing the past into dialogue with the present. ’Off Frame’ is Mohanad Yaqubi’s directorial debut, having produced award winning documentaries and fiction including ‘Infiltrators’ (by Khaled Jarrar), ‘Though I Know the River is Dry’ (by Omar R. Hamilton) and Suspended Time, an anthology of 9 films reflecting on 20 years since the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords.
+ Q&A WITH DIRECTOR NARIMANE MARI
SAT 8 JULY | 6.30PM | £10.80 to £13.50
ALGERIA, 2014 (84 MINS)
Radical and playful ‘Bloody Beans’ follows a group of children “playing” war by reenacting Algeria’s War of
Independence. Reduced to a diet of ‘bloody beans’, they loot a French Army base and abduct a soldier.
With a poetic realism recalling the works of Jean Vigo, combined with an electro soundtrack by Zombie Zombie, history and memory collide in a trance-like and hallucinatory narrative that brilliantly
captures the children’s unreal understanding of historical fact and play. Multi-award-winning
‘Bloody Beans’ (Loubia Hamra) was Narimane Mari’s first feature length film; In February 2015, she directed
La vie courante for Hors Pistes at the Centre Pompidou; she is currently developing a new feature.
SHORTS FROM SYRIA
SCREENINGS + SCREENTALK WITH CHARLOTTE BANK
SUN 9 JULY | 2PM | £10.80-£13.50
Leaving the metaphorical language of their predecessors behind, Syrian filmmakers in the
2000s began to push for direct language. Art historian and Syrian film specialist Charlotte Bank
presents a series of short films that have pushed and tested the boundaries of what can be said in
an authoritarian regime. Reem Ali’s ‘Foam’ (2008) demonstrates how young filmmakers began striving for a greater outspokenness in their works. Since the beginning of the Syrian uprising in 2011 the aesthetic of YouTube videos has been increasingly employed, along with a wider use of found footage.
Ammar Al-Beik’s ‘La Dolce Siria’ (2015) is a stunning example of this new filmic approach.
THE UK PREMIERE OF
+ Q&A WITH DIRECTOR SOUDADE KAADAN
SUN 9 JULY | 4.30PM | £10.80-£13.50
SYRIA, 2017 (75 MINS)
6-year-old Ahmad doesn’t want to remember that he is Syrian. He recently lost his older brother to the war,
and now lives with his family in a Lebanese refugee camp. Traumatised, overwhelmed and disengaged,
he prefers to be silent. Kaadan’s patient observation accompanies Ahmad as he recovers a sense of
childhood despite his grief. Against the knowledge of ongoing violence, the thoughtful and heartbreaking
film poses a question about a possible future. In Kaadan’s words, “it explores the impossibility to verbally express what is happening in Syria now.” Soudade Kaadan is an award winning Syrian director currently based in Lebanon. Educated in both theater criticism and filmmaking, she has directed and produced documentary films for Al Jazeera, UNDP and UNICEF. She is currently working on her first feature fiction film.
THE UK PREVIEW OF
SUN 9 JULY | 6.30PM | £8.40-£10.50
DIR. VATCHE BOULGHOURJIAN,
LEBANON, 2016 (105 MINS)
Things begin to unravel unexpectedly when young blind musician Rabih applies for a passport to go
on tour with his choir. Doubt is cast on whether his documents are real, setting into motion a quest for
his true identity. As past and present collide for Rabih, Vatche Boulghourjian subtly reflects on Lebanon’s
fractured past. This poetic and sensitive debut, conveyed through Rabih’s voice and songs, which
make up the film’s mesmerising score, is a reminder of the role culture plays in holding up a mirror to often
harsh realities. ’Tramontane’ is Lebanese director Vatche Boulghourjian’s first feature, which premiered at
Cannes Film Festival in 2016.
Shubbak film programme is presented in partnership with the Arab Fund for Art and Culture – AFAC and the Barbican, with additional support from Al Mawred Al Thaqafy and Molinare.
Twitter symbol: @shubbakfestival
For further information contact Anna Arthur or Joanna Hawkins at Anna Arthur PR on Joanna@annaarthurpr.com / 07910 920 207
Notes for Editors:
Shubbak is led by Eckhard Thiemann, artistic director, and Dan Gorman, executive director.
Principal partners for Shubbak 2017 are A. M. Qattan Foundation, Arab Fund for Arts and Culture – AFAC, British Council and supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Shubbak invited a number of specialist curators and collaborators to develop particular strands in this year’s programme. These include leading music promoter marsm (music), renowned translator Alice Guthrie (Literature), BAFTA nominated film producer Elhum Shakerifar (film) as well as Nehna Wel Amar Wel Jiran artistic directors Aurélien Zouki and Eric Deniaud and choreographers Sofiane & Selma from Dream City.
The board of trustees comprises:
Aaron Cezar, Director, The Delfina Foundation
David Freeman, Consultant, Thomas Eggar LLP
Noreen Abu Oun
Robin Start, Owner, The Park Gallery
Lynn Gaspard, Director, Saqi Books
Roxane Zand, Sotheby’s Deputy Chairman for the Middle East
Chair: Maysoon Pachachi
Shubbak is a registered charity number 1150374.