2009 Arab Film Festival

Thursday, December 3

6-7 p.m. Opening Night Reception
Includes strolling halal dinner under the dome in the dramatic Community Courtyard at the Arab American National Museum, plus Package A films. Partial proceeds benefit the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. Reception sponsored by Haifa Falafel and Masri Sweets. Requires a separate ticket. 

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7 p.m.
Thorns and Silk
Dir: Paulina Tervo
30 min.

This short documentary examines the lives of four women in Palestine’s West Bank, each of whom work in a male-dominated field. A wedding filmmaker, a taxi driver, a police trainee and a delivery truck driver all break from tradition to provide for themselves and their families. Arabic with English subtitles.

7:30 p.m. Brief remarks by a survivor of breast cancer

7:40 p.m.
Dir: Ahmad Habash
30 min.

Fatenah, a Palestinian woman in the Gaza Strip, wishes only for consolation in her dire living situation. When she discovers a lump near her breast, she begins a journey of torment, loss and pain amid the injustice and cruelty that surround her world. 3-D animation. Arabic with English subtitles.

Jury Special Mention (Middle Eastern Short), Middle East International Film Festival, Abu Dhabi, 2009

Friday, December 4


6 p.m.
Once Upon a Piano
Dir: Fadi Haddad
18 min.

Throughout his gloomy life, only one thing could pull Salem out of his despair – the beautiful girl playing piano in the next building. When an old friend comes to town with a tempting job offer abroad, Salem feels compelled to find a way to meet the girl. Arabic with English subtitles.

6:20 p.m.
Paloma Delight  (Delice Paloma)
Dir: Nadir Mokneche
134 min.

When it comes to surviving in today's Algeria, no scam is too daunting for the woman who has adopted her country's name – Madame Aldjeria (Algerian TV star Biyouna). If they're pretty and lacking in principles, her recruits can make a career for themselves. The latest of these, Paloma, is quite a hit, especially with Riyad, Madame Aldjeria's son. But the purchase of Caracalla Springs, the dream that should allow Aldjeria's clan to start a new life, proves to be one scam too many. Arabic with English subtitles. 

Best French Language Film, Lumiere Awards, France, 2008


8:35 p.m.
High Heels (Kaab Aali)
Dir: Fadi Haddad
20 min.

Nawal, a recently widowed social snob, discovers that her husband left her nothing but an empty bank account and a bad reputation. She is convinced that his affair with his young mistress led them to bankruptcy, but she cannot prove it to her daughter. As the gossip spreads, the mistress shows up at the funeral and invites more scandal. Arabic with English subtitles.

First Prize, Jordanian Short Competition, Franco-Arab Film Festival, 2009

8:55 p.m.
Salt of This Sea (Milh Hadha Al-Bahr)
Dir: Annemarie Jacir
109 min.

Soraya (Suheir Hammad), born in Brooklyn in a working class community of Palestinian refugees, discovers that her grandfather’s savings were frozen in a bank account in Jaffa when he was exiled in 1948. Stubborn, passionate and determined to reclaim what is hers, she fulfills her lifelong dream of returning to Palestine. Feature-film directorial debut of Annemarie Jacir. In English and Arabic with English subtitles.



Multiple honors on the international film festival circuit, including: FIPRESCI Prize, International Federation of Film Critics, 2008; Special Jury Prize, Oran International Festival of Arab Cinema, 2009; Randa Chalal Prize, Journées cinématographiques de Carthage, 2008; Best Screenplay, Dubai International Film Festival, 2008; Audience Choice Award, Houston Palestine Film Festival, 2009; Audience Choice Award – Best Feature, Chicago Palestine Film Festival, 2009; Best Film, Cairo Refugee Film Festival, 2009.

Saturday, December 5


6 p.m.
Rise and Shine
Dir: Sherif El Bendary
9 min.

As she frantically searches for the key to her apartment to start a busy day, a young wife and mother (Tunisian actress Hend Sabri) expresses her feelings of entrapment in her domestic life and social role. Arabic with English subtitles.

Jury Prize, National Film Festival, Egypt, 2006
The Golden Hawk – Best Short Film, Arab Film Festival Rotterdam, 2006
Jury Prize, 10th Ismailia International Documentary & Short Film Festival, Egypt, 2006
Mohamed Shebl Award for Filmmaking – Best Short Film, Egypt, 2006

6:10 p.m.
Dawn of the World (L’aube du monde)
Dir: Abbas Fahdel
95 min.

Mastour and Zahra, two young Marsh Arabs, have grown up at the delta of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in southern Iraq. Shortly after their marriage, Mastour and Zahra are forced to separate when the Gulf War breaks out. On the battlefield, Mastour befriends Riad, a young soldier from Baghdad. Mortally wounded, Mastour makes Riad promise to protect Zahra when the war is over. Riad must then do the impossible make his way in a hostile new environment. Co-starring Hiam Abbass (The Lemon Tree; The Visitor).  Arabic with English subtitles. 

eQuinoxe prize for best first screenplay and best scriptwriter, Germany, 2005
Grand Prix du Meilleur Scénariste, SOPADIN, France, 2005
Jury Grand Prize, Rabat Marrakech International Film Festival, Morocco, 2009
First Prize – Feature Film, Gulf Film Festival, Dubai, 2009
Audience Award and NETPAC Award, Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema, France, 2009
Grand Prize, 20th Fameck Arab Film Festival, France, 2009
Best Screenplay Award, 9th Beirut International Film Festival, Lebanon, 2009
Trophée du Premier Scénario, Centre National de la Cinematographie, France 2009


7:35 p.m.
Raised Alone
Dir: Sam Kadi
30 min.

Murad Bandley prioritizes financial security over raising his son Adam. Now a gifted violinist, Adam Bandley performs his world-renowned solo, bestowing a glimpse of his childhood attempt at reconciliation. English.

Best Short Film Award, Ferndale Film Festival, 2009
Best Michigan Short, Detroit-Windsor International Film Festival, 2009
Best Dramatic Screenplay & Best In-State Short Film, Saginaw Riverside Film Festival 2009

8:05 p.m. Discussion led by director Sam Kadi

8:25 p.m.
Garbage Dreams
Dir: Mai Iskander
82 min.

Adham, Osama and Nabil are three teenaged boys born into the trash trade in the world's largest garbage village. Located on the outskirts of Cairo, the Mokattam village is home to 60,000 Zaballeen, Egypt's “garbage people.” When their community is suddenly faced with the globalization of their trade, each boy is forced to make choices that will impact his life and the future of his community. Directorial debut of Mai Iskander, who also wrote and produced. Arabic with English subtitles.

Al Gore REEL Current Award, Nashville Film Festival, 2009
World Cinema Best Director and World Cinema Audience awards, Phoenix Film Festival, 2009
Best Documentary, Bermuda International and Vail film festivals, 2009

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