Arabian Nights Film Festival, 18 August – 10 September in Copenhagen
20 Aug. 2018

Sheikh Jackson is a 2017 Egyptian drama film directed by Amr Salama. Photo: Courtesy of Cinemateket

The Arabian Nights Film Festival takes place from 18 August until 10 September in Cinemateket in Copenhagen with a view to promoting films made in and from the Middle East and North Africa. IMS is proud to be amongst the supporters of the festival again this year with a special series om Syrian documentary film.

“Syrian Doc Days”, short for Syrian Documentary Film Days, will take place on 7 and 8 September at Cinemateket and includes film screenings, talks & other cultural activities. Documentary film is a platform for alternative voices and stories that are seldom heard in mainstream media – either because they belong to marginalised communities with little access to media – or because the issues dealt with are too sensitive for a particular cultural or political context.

We asked ourselves: How can we create a space that nurtures dialogue and encourages a nuanced understanding of what is going on in Syria? Too often, we meet Syria in the shape of figures and facts. Too seldom do we meet Syria in the shape of people. Too seldom do we have time to go in depth, to dwell on details. Perhaps it is these details that could help us improve our understanding of Syria and make what is happening in the country and with its people more relatable.

We hope that Syrian Doc Days will be a space for sharing the stories that go beyond those of conflict. And we hope that the festival will generate debate, dialogue, new connections and friendships.

Programme and film descriptions:

Friday 7 September:

16:45 TASTE OF CEMENT: film by Ziad Kalthoum: 85 min
An empathetic encounter with people who have lost their past and their future, locked in the recurring present. Ziad Kalthoum creates an essay documentary of Syrian construction workers building new skyscrapers in Beirut on the ruins caused by the Lebanese civil war. At the same time their own houses are being bombed in Syria.

19:15 STORIES BEYOND TORTURE: Film by Mahmoud Hasanki 55 min
A group of former detainees in Syrian regime prisons survived death in prisons and detention centers and went back to life again

21:30 THE FLOWER OF ALEPPO: Film by Ridha Behi 110 min
This Golden Globe nominated feature film has been called ”a must-see film which allows us to understand the complexity of the biggest tragedy of our time”. Tunisian mother Salma (Hend Sabry) fights daily battles to keep both her marriage and economy afloat. Meanwhile her teenage son is drawn towards ISIS through promises of eternal friendship and the power to change his crumbling world.

Saturday 8 September

14:00 Syrian Café/ Poetry, wine and debates
Meet poet Nader Alkasem and directors Ziad Kalthoum, Mahmoud Hasanki, Ali Alibrahim, Monika Borgmann and Eyas Almowdad. The event takes place in Asta Bar at Cinematekets.

16:00 ONE DAY IN ALEPPO: Film by Ali Alibrahim 24 min
Without words, the lens focuses in — sometimes from above — on the smoldering ruins and the people struggling to survive among them. This small, loving mosaic of images shows the resilience and resistance of the Syrians, building tiny beacons of hope and keeping up their courage by rolling up their sleeves and getting on with life. One man feeds the stray cats, another gathers wood, a third bakes bread. A group of children use paint to brighten up the dusty walls and wrecked cars of the city surrounded by the Syrian army.

18:30 TADMOR: Film by Monika Borgman and Lokman Slim 105 min
A group of former Lebanese detainees break their long-held silence about the horrific years they spent imprisoned in Tadmor (Palmyra), one of the Assad regime’s most dreadful prisons. To reclaim and overcome this dark chapter in their lives, they rebuild Tadmor in an abandoned school near Beirut. Playing the roles of both victims and victimizers they relive their struggles and survival. Meet co-director Monika Borgmann

21:30 300 MILES: Film by Orwa Almokdad 95 min
Orwa Almaqdad explores the distance between divided areas that had been created in Syria, literally and metaphorically, which goes back to the formation of the state of Israel, which tore the region apart, in terms of belonging, identity, and priorities

Talks and debates

Every  film except The flower of Aleppo  will be followed by a debate with a Q&A with the film director or producer. A talk about the reconstruction of Syria by Sune Haugbølle will follow after the debate of the film TASTE OF CEMENT, and more talks and debates will be issued in the event.