Written by William Dobson
Better late than never, here’s this week’s guide to what’s happening on London’s Middle Eastern cultural scene. Both the Nour Festival of Arts and the BFI Film Festival continue, so another big week!
Wednesday 17th October
Nour Festival of Arts – Various locations around London
The Festival, back for a third time this year in a bigger and better guise, continues this week. Running until the end of December, it will feature dazzling contemporary artistic talent from the Middle East and North Africa. Including everything from c contemporary art, design, film, music and literature, it’s sure to be one of the Middle Eastern cultural events of the year!
There is far too much going on to list here. However, among the brilliant events scheduled for this year’s edition, the Festival has noted a number of highlights which are expected to stand out in particular. For one, the festival’s Writer-in-Residence, Selma Debbagh, will host a series of workshops on writing and publishing. Additionally, Tunisian singer-songwriter Emel Mathlouthi and Lebanese musician Charbel Rouhana will play a series of concerts at the Tabernacle, and festival goers can view a graphic and spatial design exhibition by Muiz Anwar and Dia Batal at the Leighton House Museum, as well as Moroccan artist Abderrahim Yamou’s first-ever UK exhibition at the Mosaic Rooms. Furthermore, the V&A Museum will host a group photography exhibition entitled Light from the Middle East, and in association with the London MENA Film Festival, screenings of films from emerging Middle Eastern and North African filmmakers will be shown at the Leighton House Museum.
Thursday 18th October
Made in Makkah® – Artspace Gallery, London
In collaboration with the Jeddah-based Athr Gallery and curated by Raneem Farsi and Aya Alireza, Made in Makkah® will show the works of three Saudi artists from the Holy City of Makkah: Nasser Al-Salem, Noha Al-Sharif, and Saddek Wasil.
Through mixed media, calligraphy and sculpture, Made in Makkah® demonstrates how being born and raised in this spiritual magnet has shaped the artists’ worldviews and how the devotional nature of their work can appeal to a universal spirit of belief.
Made in Makkah® opens a window into the elusive world of Islam. However, the true message conveyed by these three artists is much more universal – a belief in something greater than oneself. The exhibition will run until October 27th.
For more details, click here
Saturday 20th October
Horses of God – Various London Cinemas
Screening as part of the BFI London Film Festival, Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch delivers a devastatingly powerful, and sweepingly cinematic, portrayal of what turns a group of football-loving kids into suicide bombers.
What could compel two ordinary, football-loving brothers to become part of a cell of suicide bombers? That is one question – among others – that Moroccan filmmaker Nabil Ayouch dares to ask in Horses of God, a thoughtful, masterfully controlled adaptation of Mahi Binebine’s novel The Stars Of Sidi Moumen. Inspired by the real-life 2003 terrorist attacks in Casablanca, Ayouch’s film follows two brothers over the course of a decade. While they begin as kids in search of thrills in the sprawling slums of Morocco’s Sidi Moumen, we witness their gradual, and ultimately shocking, radicalisation. Rather than opt for dry didacticism, however, Ayouch fashions a visually sumptuous and often breathless coming-of-age story that is reminiscent, at times, of Fernando Meirelles’ City of God, albeit with a tragic twist in the tale. A major achievement by one of North Africa’s most important filmmakers.
For more details, see here
Winter of Discontent - Ciné Lumière, 17 Queensberry Place, London
Another film being shown as part of BFI London Film Festival, Ibrahim El-Batout delivers a searing account of the root causes of the Egyptian revolution with this hard-hitting political thriller.
Few recent events have proved as gripping as last year’s Egyptian revolution. For 18 days in January and February, the exploits of millions of brave Egyptians seeking to overturn decades of dictatorial rule dominated news headlines and the world’s attention. The heady events in Tahrir Square didn’t, of course, begin out of the blue on January 25, a fact that director Ibrahim El Batout is keen to remind us of with his searing Winter of Discontent. The film lays bare the police state that was Egypt in the final years of the former President Hosni Mubarak’s reign, beginning a few years before the 2011 revolution to offer audiences a glimpse of the systematic torture and harassment that targeted any internal dissidence. Arguably the most dramatically satisfying and fully-realised cinematic account to date dealing with Egypt’s turbulent developments, dominated by a quietly powerful performance from Amr Waked as an opposition activist.
For information, click here