ALFILM – 9th Arab Film Festival Berlin

11. – 18. April 2018

Cinemas Arsenal, fsk, City Kino Wedding, Kino Wolf

  • First Films of the OFFICIAL SELECTION
  • SPOTLIGHT: Reflections on Arab Masculinities

Berlin, March 12, 2018 – In its 9th edition ALFILM offers insights into the cinema of the Arab world and the Arab diaspora with current fiction and documentary films in the OFFICIAL SELECTION – among them festival darlings, German premieres and exciting newcomers as well as three short film programs.

The side section SPOTLIGHT, that alternates yearly with the RETROSPECTIVE, treats the topic Reflections on Arab Masculinities. It addresses the ever-changing concepts and interrogations of the concept of masculinity in Arab cinema from the 1970s to today. A panel discussion and an audiovisual lecture will offer deeper insights into the subject and Arab film history.

This SPOTLIGHT section is funded by the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe.


OFFICIAL SELECTION – first highlights


The 9th ALFILM opens with BEAUTY AND THE DOGS (Kaouther Ben Hania, FR/TUN/SWE/NOR/LEB/CH/QAT 2017). Mariam is celebrating with her friends at a student party, where she meets Youssef and leaves the party with him. The rest of the evening turns into a tour de force for a young woman that is forced to fight for her rights and dignity. Inspired by a true story, the film paints an atmospheric picture of post-revolution Tunisia in which the old power structures are by no means overcome, and where Mariam’s fight for justice is a female self-assertion against the system. The film had its premiere at the Cannes Festival in 2017.

In presence of the main actress, in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung


WAJIB (Annemarie Jacir, PAL/FR/COL/DEU/UAE/QAT/NOR 2017) It is Wajib – an obligation – that leads Shadi (Saleh Bakri) back from Rome to his hometown Nazareth. His sister Amal’s wedding is approaching and according to tradition Shadi has to personally hand over the wedding invitations to all guests alongside his divorced father Abu Shadi (Saleh Bakri’s father Mohammad Bakri). Old personal and political conflicts arise along the path. The film humorously examines the singularities of this Christian milieu where family secrets are kept as confidential as political issues.


In MY PARADISE (Ekrem Heydo, GER/KUR-SYR 2016), an old class picture leads director Heydo after 25 years back to his hometown Serê Kaniyê (Ras el-Ain) in the Kurdish part of Northern Syria. The photo depicts the multiethnic society of Arabs, Kurds, Chechens and Armenians, split in different ethnic and confessional camps since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War. Ekrem Heydo does not reunite with all of his classmates. This journey into the past becomes a search for the foundation of living side-by-side in a politically unstable region. In presence of the director


With 17 (Widad Shafakoj, Jordan 2017) ALFILM presents a documentary that follows the Jordanian under-17 women’s football team in their preparation for the under-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Jordan in 2016. The players with diverse social and athletic backgrounds, face a great challenge: they will come up against the best players of their league. 17 is a sensible homage to the willpower these girls have to muster up in a traditional country for a sport that is still a male domain.



This year’s SPOTLIGHT will be opened by the Lebanese documentary ROOM FOR A MAN (Anthony Chidiac, LBN/USA 2017). Out of a room decorated in baroque interior, a camera focuses on the outside world. The camera becomes the filmmakers mediator and accomplice in his autobiographical exploration of concepts of manhood and belonging. Between a dominant mother, an absent father and the Syrian construction workers renovating Anthony’s teenage bedroom, the reconstruction of a queer identity between Argentina and Lebanon takes place. In presence of the director


A classic of Arab cinema, OMAR GATLATO (Merzak Allouache, ALG 1976), presents masculinity and machism as central elements to the life of Omars, who shares a crowded apartment with his family in Algier. He cockily roams the streets of his city with this friends and experiences romantic phantasies in Bollywood movies, but his true passion is music. Though real encounters with the opposite sex make him insecure, hearing the voice of mysterious Selma on a second-hand cassette, makes him fall under her spell. In presence of the director


In the double feature MAJNOUNAK and CINEMA FOUAD male sexuality and transsexuality take centre stage: In MAJNOUNAK: On Men, Sex and the City (Akram Zaatari, LBN 1997/2016) the filmmaker asks several men along Beirut’s coast to give an in-depth account of a specific sexual encounter in 1997. The resulting portraits were reassembled and remastered in 2016. CINEMA FOUAD (Mohammed Soueid, LBN 1994) paints an intimate portrait of Syrian transsexual Khaled El Kurdi, drawing a line from everyday scenes to El Kurdis work as a dancer in a Beiruti nightclub to his involvement as a fighter in the Lebanese Civil War.


In addition to that a Lecture by Rasha Salti within the framework of the SPOTLIGHT „Reflections on Arab Masculinities“ will be presented. Rasha Salti is a curator and author living between Berlin and Beirut. She curated international exhibitions and film series about different Arab cinematographies and art forms and is currently working as an editor for the documentary format „La Lucarne“ at Arte.


A Panel discussion with film guests Merzak Allouache, Mohammad Hammad, Mohamed Soueid and Eliane Raheb furthers explores the topic of the SPOTLIGHT section.


The Spotlight was curated by Claudia Jubeh.


Further highlights:
Specials: A program around „70 years Nakba“ – including a lecture by filmmaker and producer Mohanad Yaqubi and films by Mustafa Abu Ali, Mohamad Malas and Kamal Aljafari.