Dear NileMedia Reader: I have spent the last week attending a number of excellent movies and documentaries presented by the Arab and Iranian Film Festival in Seattle. Even on cold dreary winter nights, a great number of people had to be turned away after tickets sold out. Thanks to the Festival organizers, there is now a few more opportunities to check out the favorites of the Arab Film Festival. So, here is the expanded schedule.
We applaud the success of the Festival and John Sinno who led the effort. I saw people coming out of documentaries and movies with tears in their eyes. John Sinno really did select the very best for this Festival. We hope that the Festival expands to include more works from Turkey and Iran. Perhaps we could also have little mini Seattle Festivals in Portland and other cities. I had the pleasure of interviewing John Sinno during the festival. He expressed a real enthusiasm for taking the show on the road. So, he will be waiting for the calls from Portland, San Francisco and Washington DC. He can be easily contacted at his website ArabFilm.com.
Frankly, I don't want to wait another year for the next Arab and Iranian film Festival. So, it would be nice if we had little "mini Arab film Festivals", two day affairs, during the course of the year. How about showing a movie every month? I know one can always pull out a credit card and buy a VCR copy from Arab Film Distribution, but there will always be something special about seeing these movie on a big screen, in the company of so many Americans, willing to read subtitles, willing to shed a tear for a Palestinian refugee, willing to share the trauma of a Lebanese memory, the unbearable pain of raising an Algerian family in the Paris slums of 1961, the splendid life spirit of an abandoned Morrocan child in the streets of Casa Blanca, the courage of an Afghani teen-age refugee surviving as an illegal immingrant in Iran. And if you were just looking for a little entertainment, John made sure to include a Syrian romance and an Egyptian mafia movie to remind us that GodFathers and love are all over the planet.
My only regret, is the movies I missed. The Festival was running four or five movies a day, in two locations. But if what I missed was anything compared to what I got to see, I feel very culturally deprived.
We should all pay our thanks to all those who help make this Arab and Iranian Film Festival happen.
A word from John Sinno
President, Arab Film Distribution
New shows added!
March 29 and 30
This year marks the Arab and Iranian Film Festival's fifth anniversary and I couldn't be more delighted. Our festival continues to be a feast for the eyes and the imagination, as well as a showcase for the work and talent of so many gifted artists from the United States and the Middle East.
I like to think of this year's theme, Different Frames of Mind, as an invitation of sorts: My wish is that the Arab and Iranian Film Festival would offer a place--a meeting ground--for Middle Eastern filmmakers struggling to narrate their own stories and Western audiences who desire to see beyond the daily headlines. All of us are engaged in the difficult yet necessary task of keeping our perspectives fresh and current. I believe that the festival will help make this process more accessible and more enjoyable and ultimately more rewarding.
We've taken several steps this year to help us deliver on our theme.
The Festival's title has been officially expanded to include Iran. In addition to hand-picking a wonderful survey of contemporary Arab cinema, we have included a powerful collection of Iranian films to help us honor this country's stunning achievements in narrative and documentary filmmaking. We are proud of this addition and hope that you will enjoy it this year and for many years to come. To promote a greater understanding of some of the issues faced by Arabs on a daily basis, the festival will feature a lecture (accompanied by video clips) by noted Arab-American media critic Jack Shaheen, author of "Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People."
As the festival continues to draw the attention and support of thousands of Seattle area viewers who rely on us for a rare glimpse into Arab and Iranian cinema, my hope is that you will accept my invitation.
President, Arab Film Distribution