Written by William Dobson
Another busy week in the nation’s capital for Middle Eastern arts and culture. In addition to the continuation of The Nour Festival of Arts, we also have the London MENA Film Festival to get stuck into, back for a second year on a much grander scale. Have a great week!
Monday 29th 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.
London MENA Film Festival - Various locations, London
Following on from its launch last year, LMFF2012 kicked off last week and will be running until Friday 2nd November. LMFF will also be contributing to the Nour Festival at Leighton House.
The theme of this year’s festival is children, how a generation growing up in an environment of conflict and despair is both a tragic casualty and the beacon of hope for the region. LMFF aims to explore this through the thought provoking documentary, ‘In My Mother’s Arms’ directed by Iraqi filmmakers, Mohamed and Atia al-Daradji and the Festival’s closing film, the touching and funny tale, ‘Majid’ directed by Nassim Abassi from Morocco.
LMFF aims to reveal and reflect the contemporary DNA of the region, with a kaleidoscope of shorts, animation, documentaries and features, as well as a film for all the family – the feature length animation ‘The 99 Unbound’.
The Debate Through Film Series (DTF) features three engaging events in association with Chatham House, Frontline Club, LSE and Al Jazeera.
Tuesday 30th October
Leila & The Wolves – Passing Clouds, Dalston, London
A rare opportunity to see this much discussed classic of Arab cinema poised between fiction and documentary. Leila And The Wolves draws on the Arab heritage of oral tradition and mosaic pattern to explore the collective memory of Arab women and their hidden role in history throughout the past half century of the Middle East, both in Palestine and in Lebanon.
The film is a modern-day fairy tale about the suppressed history of Arab people and especially Arab women. Through the eyes of Leila, a Lebanese student dissatisfied with the official, colonial, male-dominated version of ‘history’ the film reconstructs women’s daily unglamorous and silent sacrifices as much a part of history as men’s military ‘heroic’ action. ‘The visual leitmotiv of the film is Arab women sitting immobile under the high sun, while half-naked men bathe joyfully on the beach. Gradually, women will start getting impatient, as historic events go by, and they will move towards the water for a dip… but in the Middle-East the dance of death still continues.’
For more information, see here
Wednesday 31st October
Qudz - The Yard Theatre, London
Saddam promised Unity… and delivered Collapse.
Bush promised Freedom… and delivered Chaos.
For a young Iraqi soldier, sent on an epic journey down the Tigris, all he has to deliver is Qudz – an enigmatic Cleric – who promises to hold the answer to all the country’s problems.
Merging Conrad’s Heart of Darkness with astonishing first-hand accounts, Qudz brings us up close and personal to the everyday lives of Iraqis: sometimes comic, often tragic and always absurd.
Blending drama, live music, film, animation and dance, Qudz captures the particular lunacy of living in a warzone. This moving play, by Tarek Iskander, will be showing until 3rd November.
For more details, see here
Thursday 1st November
Britain in Palestine – Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London
This exhibition tells the story of what happened to Palestine and its people under the British mandate for Palestine. It will show how and why Britain got involved in Palestine, and the impact of British rule upon the country. Vivid and moving personal stories portray the dilemmas of ordinary people caught up in the extraordinary circumstances of mandate-era Palestine featuring dramatic photographs, personal testimonies, important original documents, and poignant personal belongings that have survived from the time.
The exhibition illustrates the experiences of British people who served in Palestine as colonial servants, Palestine Police and military servicemen. The reminiscences of these people and their families testify to the profound impression Palestine made on their lives.
Britain in Palestine is the culmination of over 4 years dedicated research by exhibition curator Anne Lineen and is running until 15th December. As well as searching through record offices and museums throughout the UK, Anne has also carried out dozens of interviews with people who remember Palestine under the Mandate. These people either lived in Palestine or served under the British. Their memories vividly portray the personal dilemmas confronted by people living through this extraordinary time.
For more details, see here