CineMAS Film Festival 2022
The 4th edition of CineMAS Film Festival features a wide range of films and themes spanning over 8 days including post screening discussions with the directors and speakers from the film community. Curated by Hind Mezaina.
About the curator:
Hind Mezaina is an artist, film curator, and writer. Working primarily in analogue photography, and more recently in video, her practice delves into themes of collective memory, the notion of heritage, and depictions of Dubai and the UAE in the media. She is also the founder of The Culturist blog, the co-founder of Tea with Culture podcast, and more recently Moving Image Editor for Tribe magazine.
Mezaina has curated film screenings for local institutions, including Louvre Abu Dhabi, Sharjah Art Foundation, The Africa Institute, Jameel Arts Centre. Last year she published a three-part essay titled An Incomplete History of UAE Cinemas in alserkal.online.
To kick off the 4th edition of CineMAS, a pre-opening event will be dedicated to a diverse selection of short films made in the UAE about home, family, the environment, community and belonging.
The screenings will be followed by a panel discussion with the directors about their works, their inspirations and the current state of filmmaking in the UAE.
Sunday, June 5 – CineMAS 2022 Pre-Event
A SMALL DREAM
Director: Sarra’a Al Shehhi
2021, 15 min
Living in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, a conservative society, Maitha has a small and seemingly simple dream of swimming in the sea that she frequents. Maitha, economically challenged and a veiled Muslim woman, encounters various obstacles. She struggles to find balance between fulfilling her dream of swimming in the sea and avoiding agonizing encounters in public due to her veil and society's awareness of her gender. But, her fear of judgment is her biggest obstacle.
OSHA, THE FALCONER
Director: Rasha Amer
2021, Documentary, 16 min
A short documentary that follows a mother (Aysha) and daughter (Osha) as they travel through the desert hunting with falcons, the traditional Emirati method that has been passed down through the generations.
Director: Mariam Alawadhi
2019, 10 min
After 15 years of averting the source of her anxiety, Mariam at last walks the journey of voicing her avoided emotions regarding her non Emirati mother, and the uneasiness she felt about her mixed background in the Emirati society.
WHY IS MY GRANDFATHER’S BED IN THE LIVING ROOM?
Director: Sarah Alhashimi
2021, Documentary, 7 min
An Emirati family lost their ancestral house to community development plans aimed at modernizing the city. As they recall the sudden loss of the family house, it is apparent that a century old wooden bed, the only tangible memory that remains, is a poignant feature of their story.
The attachment of both the house and the bed are intertwined together in the bittersweet memories of the family members.
Director: Priscilla Elias
2020, Documentary, 9 min
Expats from two nations at war, bond in a foreign land over their common love and form everlasting camaraderie beyond borders. Their marasim (connection) fades away their partition.
Director: Faisal Hashmi
2020, 10 min
A barber at a highway barbershop is caught in a deadly situation when he realizes that his first customer of the day isn’t who he seems.
A wordless, Hitchcockian thriller short film that's currently being developed as a potential independent feature film.
Director: Abdulrahman AlMadani
2021, 25 min
A battered wife seeks refuge in her estranged mother to escape her abusive husband. However, she finds herself pressured to return to him. Will she give in or fight back this time?
Monday, June 6 – Opening Films: Family Matters
6:00 – 6:45pm
In Conversation with Director Omar Al Zohairy
To RSVP: https://omarelzohairy.splashthat.com
Director: Omar Al Zohairy
2021, 1h 52 min, Egypt/France/Netherlands/Greece
Arabic (English subtitles), PG-15
When a magic trick goes awry at a children’s birthday party, the authoritative father of the family turns into a chicken. An avalanche of coincidental absurdities befalls everyone; the mother, whose mundane life was dedicated to her husband and children, is now urged to come to the fore and take care of her family. While moving heaven and earth to bring her husband back and secure their survival, she goes through a total transformation.
"Darkly humorous. A film of biting social satire. For a film about men and chickens, Feathers reveals a lot about women and Egyptian society."
— Allan Hunter, Screen
Winner: Nespresso Grand Prize, La Semaine de la Critique de Cannes, 2021
Best Arab Narrative Film, El Gouna Film Festival, 2021
Guest Speaker: Omar Al Zohairy
Director: Amalia Ulman
2021, 1h, 22 min, Spain
Spanish, English (English subtitles), PG-15
El Planeta is a dark comedy exploring contemporary poverty, female desire, and the always complicated filial relationships of mothers and daughters.
After her father’s death, Leo leaves her life as a fashion student in London and returns to her hometown of Gijón, Spain, where her mother is on the verge of eviction.
The two survive by selling personal items online and running up tabs based on extensive lies. Their impending misfortune does not stop the pair from dressing up in their best fur coats, heading to the mall to sample makeup, and buying cute shoes (as long as they are returnable). Grifting their way to a stylish lifestyle beyond their means, their familial bond over common tragedy strengthens as evident doom nears.
“A wonderfully sly feminist comedy…A little bit Jean-Luc Godard and a little bit Greta Gerwig.”
— Andrew Bundy, The Playlist
Tuesday, 7 June – Teens and Screens, Secrets and Lies
Director: Ayten Amin
2021, 1h 36 min, Egypt/Tunisia/Germany
Arabic (English subtitles), PG-15
Zagazig, a small city on the Nile Delta in Egypt. Today.
Souad, 19-year-old young woman, leads a double life. While remaining conservative and veiled among her family and society, Souad is obsessed with her image on social media, and goes in several secret virtual relationships with men. She constantly lies about her personal life, projecting wishfully images of a different desired life. Her ambitions are slowly crushed by the invasion of her true reality.
A series of small incidents lead to a tragic event, that makes Rabab, her 13-year-old little sister, embarks on a real-life journey looking for answers.
"Razor-sharp, nonjudgmental insight, which captures lives as well as environment with a clear-eyed neorealist sensibility… flowing dialogue that feels unscripted and true…” —Jay Weissberg, Variety
Director: Kamila Andini
2021, 1h 35 min, Indonesia
Indonesian (English subtitles), PG-15
Yuni is a teenage girl — smart with big dreams of attending university. When two men she barely knows ask to marry her, she rejects their proposals, sparking gossip about a myth that a woman who rejects three proposals will never marry. The pressure is building when a third man asks for her hand, and Yuni must choose between the myth of a final chance at marriage, or her dream of future happiness.
Winner: Platform Prize, Toronto Film Festival 2021
“For all its cultural specificity, the sincerity and authenticity of Yuni grant it a universal quality that makes it compelling, moving viewing.” — Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, AWFJ
Wednesday, 8 June – Passage of Time
SOMEWHERE IN TIME
Director: Nawaf Al Janahi
2021, 15 min, UAE
No dialogue, PG-13
In a metropolitan city, an abandoned old man battles death with a beautiful memory that once was in the desert.
“Loneliness is probably the most common struggle people face every day, especially in metropolitan cities. It doesn't discriminate against age, gender, or socioeconomic status. Every person deals with the impact of being lonely from a very personal and unique perspective. Cinema has been trying to explore this theme for decades, and we still need more films about the loners in our world.” - Nawaf Al Janahi
LE TEMPS PERDU
Director: Maria Alvarez
2020, 1h 42 min, Argentina
Spanish (English subtitles), Documentary, PG-13
A group of now-aging Marcel Proust fans have been meeting at a cafe in Buenos Aires since 2001, to read his seven-volume classic In Search of Lost Time. This black-and-white film documenting the reading sessions is an oasis of calm, intimacy, and depth in a modern world dominated by speedy online communications and innovation.
We listen to passages read aloud, and observe the attentive listeners with thoughtful, emotional, and enthusiastic expressions on their faces. Some of them have already read the 3,000-page novel five times. At each meeting, they patiently peel away the next layer together, exercising their intellects and posing questions about the book—and about themselves. They respond to each other’s observations with rigor and humor, and always with affection. Together, they elevate the act of reading to an art form.
“Director Maria Alvarez filmed sessions between 2015 and 2019, an unhurried shooting schedule that suits the group’s patient, expansive rhythm, and lack of consumerist drive to rush to a conclusion. Her fly-on-the-wall approach gradually reveals a surprisingly profound depth…” — Carmen Gray, Modern Times Review
Introduction with Nawaf Al Janahi.
Director: Maria Alvarez
2017, 1h 14 min, Argentina
Spanish (English subtitles), Documentary, PG-13
“Las cinéphilas (The cinephiles)” are retired women from Spain, Uruguay and Argentina who go to the cinema every day. For them, films are not only a support, but also a safe and recurrent event in the days that go by and the cinema is a place where they can ease their loneliness and forget the passage of time. Like a drop of water, fiction slaps their lives, leaving a trace on their memory.
Thursday, 9 June - Earth, Moon, Mars
6:00 – 6:45pm
In Conversation with Director Jenny Perlin
To RSVP: https://jennyperlin.splashthat.com/
Director: Vanessa Del Campo
2019, 20 min, Belgium
Arabic, English (English subtitles), Creative Short Documentary, PG-13
An old Bedouin riding his camel can’t believe his eyes: a woman dressed in a big, compact armour and a bizarre helmet is studying an insignificant rock. Astronauts in the desert of Oman... Or is it Mars?
Bedouins, spaceships, desertships, two young Omani girls passionate about space and a lost director reflecting about life in this Universe and the relation between nomadism, exploration, colonialism and freedom.
Winner: IDFA Talent Award, Visions du Réel 2019
Directors: Lauren DeFilippo, Katherine Gorringe
2020, 1h 24 min, USA
English, German, French (English subtitles), Documentary, PG-13
What do humans need to be happy, healthy, and sane? A crew of six non-astronauts from all over the world, chosen for their ability to survive isolation, embark on a one-year mission in the Mars simulation station in Hawai’i in order to provide much-needed research for the future of space exploration. Survive, experiment, exercise, collect data, shoot, file surveys… repeat. How does their mood and mental health change over time in this prescient exploration of self-imposed quarantine?
Director: Hadi Moussally
2021, 20 min, Lebanon/France
Arabic (English subtitles), PG-13
Tripoli, North Lebanon.
At 64, Maha has just taken her retirement from teaching. This new life puts her in the face of her loneliness as a divorced woman, whose children have left their home to live abroad for years now.
The sole company of her faithful neighbours is no longer enough for Maha to fight the terrible feeling of emptiness and boredom in which she now finds herself. But had not she always dreamed of being an astronaut? And what if she lets herself drift to this promise of escape?
TO THE MOON
Director: Tadhg O'Sullivan
2020, 1h 16 min, Ireland
Multiple languages (English subtitles), Essay Film, PG-13
TO THE MOON is a beautiful and poetic cinematic ode to the moon. Made primarily from international cinematic archive in combination with literary fragments and original moonlit cinematography filmed across five continents, with literary fragments and a transportive score by Linda Buckley, Amanda Feery and Peter Broderick.
Structured as a lunar cycle the film steps lightly through the ideas that people through the ages have drawn from the moon — dreams of escape, myths of heaven, songs of longing and loss, odes of yearning, stories of lost futures — taking the viewer on a constantly surprising night-walk through the night sky.
“It is an act of a reimagining to declare a barren rock more poetic than a star.” — Simran Hans, ICA
Friday, June 10 – State of Mind and Place
Director: Suzannah Mirghani
2021, 7 min, Sudan/Qatar
English, Experimental, PG-13
Suzi doll is an ego-warrior. The director’s online avatar, marching to the algorithms of social media. She is lit by temporary outrage. A trending indignation. A passion that is fashion. A politics of the popular. Her activism is abstract. Her help is hypothetical. We know many girls like Suzi, and many times we are her: vacuous virtual voices, echoing injustices.
KATJA DREAMS OF WAKING UP
Director: Truls Krane Meby
2022, 1h 12 min, Norway
English, German, Norwegian (English Subtitles), PG-13
Katja (27) lives in Berlin and dreams every night of her own death, and her waking hours are a constant stream of work, digital distraction and a paranoia about the future – her inner life moving at a speed that seems unsustainable. While on vacation in northern Norway, she has an extreme encounter with raw nature and gets a new perspective on herself – she returns to Berlin with the intentions of changing her life. But the demon inside her is hard to shake off.
Director: Elia Romanelli
2020, 1h 5 min, Italy
German, Turkish, Romanian, Croatian (English subtitles), Documentary, PG-13
A journey into the fantasy that has been created around one of the most famous cities in the world. Personal stories told by a handful of characters around the world who have never set foot in Venice, but who all have intimate ties with the city.
"Venice Elsewhere" questions the imaginary: men and women give life to their own idea of Venice while the real city is shown suspended between its exceptional floods and a human desert of contagion. A voyage to discover how its roots are not simply far away but are, indeed, elsewhere.
Winner: Prize for Best Portrait, Montréal International Festival of Films on Art 2022
Director: Jenny Perlin
2021, 1h 32 min, USA
English, Documentary, PG-13
More and more American men are deciding to live alone in decommissioned military bunkers and nuclear missile silos, even as an upscale industry begins to cater to “preppers,” people who fear the imminent breakdown of society and the destruction of the United States.
In Bunker, filmmaker Jenny Perlin journeys by herself into the middle of America to meet such men, and the builders and salesmen who cater to them.
The film, shot in verité and slow cinema style, follows a uniquely American path, going from undisclosed location to undisclosed location, investigating toxic American myths, including self-reliance, masculinity, home safety and security, and family life in a time of climate crisis, economic upheaval, and political strife, Bunker reveals pathological inner workings of a American phenomenon on the rise.
"With a sense of melancholy permeating its spectacle, the documentary exposes the revival of Cold War anxieties and doomsday fetishism among ostensibly ordinary grandfathers and uncles.” —Tomasin Fonseca, Film Comment
Post screening discussion with Jenny Perlin.
Saturday, June 11 – Art, Music and Counterculture
Three Artist Films:
NEGOTIATING LIBERATION: DON’T BE A DREAM, PLEASE BE REAL
Director: Amirah Tajdin
2021, 6 min, UAE
A meditative visual on the African Immigrant experience in Dubai. A story of Black love in a shifting universe. It touches on the idea of the spirit of the United Arab Emirates as a new metropolis being built and that too on its own new terms of capitalism and the eternal chasing of ‘a new world’, of dreams. Commissioned by Goethe Institut Abu Dhabi.
Directors: Majd Alloush, Anna Kipervaser
2021, 20 min, UAE
A meditation on water, Terrain Ahead is a hybrid analog-digital experimental documentary exploring the trajectory of human impact on coastlines in the United Arab Emirates. The film asks questions around visibility and invisibility, around what is and can be documented and shared, and that which cannot. With support from the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research, Lucius and Eva Eastman Fund, and Warehouse421.
THERE IS AN EDIBLE GOLD
Director: Moza Almatrooshi
2021, 28 min, UAE
Almatrooshi fuse’s the cares and conflicts that surround bees, their honey and their interactions with humanity. From the knowledge and experience of the beekeeper to the flora and fauna that make the perfect ingredient for honey, to carefully constructed travel cases through which the bees experience immigration issues, discrimination and identity crisis. Commissioned by Art Jameel.
Post screening discussion with the artists and Jenny Perlin.
AN EVENING WITH LAILA
Director: Haya Alghanim
2021, 10 min, Kuwait
Arabic (English subtitles), Documentary, PG-13
A short documentary about the life and true story of Laila Abdulaziz, a pioneer of music in the Arabian Gulf and staple of Kuwaiti history who had a vision for the future that no one was ready for, not even herself.
Winner: Best International Documentary - Alexandria Short Film Festival
BEFORE THE DYING OF THE LIGHT
Director: Ali Essafi
2020, 1h 10 min, Morocco/France
Arabic, French (English subtitles), Documentary, PG-13
This glittering collage of posters, magazine covers, archive footage, jazz music, and cartoons takes you back to the art scene of 1970s Morocco, viewed from the perspective of the artists and actors themselves. Many of them were to end up in prison or disappear without a trace.
The story revolves around a Moroccan independent film from 1974, About Some Meaningless Events by Mostafa Derkaoui, where a group of young filmmakers explored the role the new Moroccan cinema should play in society. The counterculture arose from Marxist student movements which saw cinema as an “instrument for sensitization” and self-discovery
“Even for viewers with little grounding in Moroccan history, Essafi’s film offers an inspiring view of a roiling period of artistic exploration.” — Glenn Kenny, New York Times
ITALO DISCO. THE SPARKLING SOUND OF THE 80S
Director: Alessandro Melazzini
2021, 1h 2 min, Germany
English, Italian, German (English subtitles), Documentary, PG-13
With plenty of fun facts, this documentary about Italo Disco offers an excursion back to an epoch when millions of Europeans indulged in synthesisers, electronic rhythms, catchy melodies, bizarre English lyrics and visionary music videos.
Italo Disco: born in Italy, reinforced in Germany, it was a German record producer who came up with the genre label, made the whole planet dance.
With an appropriate mix of seriousness and irony, the comments are delivered by international trend watchers, sociologists, and of course the pioneers themselves.
Italo Disco. The sparkling sound of the 80s immerses the audience in a musical universe of an era.
LOVE, DEUTSCHMARKS AND DEATH
Director: Cem Kaya
2022, 1h 36 min, Germany
German, Turkish, English (English subtitles), Documentary, PG-13
In the early 1960s, the so-called guest workers from Anatolia and other parts of Turkey were recruited by the Federal Republic of Germany. From the beginning, there was something that always accompanied them and was part of their culture: their music – a piece of home in a foreign land. Over the years, independent musical directions developed in Germany that did not exist in this form in their mother country.
The exciting cinema documentary "Aşk, Mark ve Ölüm" / LOVE, DEUTSCHMARKS AND DEATH by Cem Kaya tells the unprecedented story of an independent musical culture of immigrants from Turkey, their children and grandchildren in Germany in an entertaining and very complex way with never-before-seen archive footage.
Winner: Panorama Audience Award - Panorama Dokument, Berlinale 2022
Sunday, June 12 – Part 1: Homage to Classic Arab Cinema
BEIRUT, THE ENCOUNTER (1982)
Director: Borhane Alaouié
1982, 1h 37 min, Lebanon/Tunisia/Belgium
Arabic (English subtitles), PG-15
Beirut, 1977. Zeina (Nadine Acoury) is about to leave the country, just like many Lebanese are doing again today. Haydar (Haitham El Amine) hasn’t been in the city for very long; he had to leave his village because of the civil war. The two haven’t seen each other in years, although a sense of longing has endured.
The camera follows the two of them for around 24 hours, past checkpoints and ruins, stuck in traffic, waiting in vain in a café. Suspense arises from the question of whether they will manage to see each other one last time; the film’s allure is derived from the tender, melancholy atmosphere inherent to the images of the damaged city and the characters’ soft voices.
CineMAS 2022 is presenting the recently restored version by the Royal Belgian Film Archive, first screened in the Forum section of Berlinale 2022, 40 years after the film screened in Competition at at Berlinale 1982.
Borhane Alaouié (1941-2021) was a Lebanese writer and director. He worked as an assistant camera operator for two
years in Lebanese television, before studying film directing in the National High Institute of Theatrical Arts in Belgium,
graduating in 1970. Following his 1974 debut Kafr Kassem, he directed numerous feature films and documentaries that
screened at major festivals, including Beirut al lika / Beiurt, the Encounter (Berlinale 1982). In addition to making films,
he also taught film directing in Lebanon for many years. Borhane Alaouié died in September 2021.
ONCE UPON A TIME, BEIRUT
Director: Jocelyn Saab
1994, 1h 41 min, Lebanon/France
Arabic, French (English subtitles), Docufiction, PG-15
Two young women of the war generation, Yasmin (Michèle Tyan) and Leila (Myrna Maakaron), are in search of Beirut. They decide to visit a renowned cinephile and collector, M. Farouk (Emile Accar), to discover a Lebanon that they’ve never known.
They convince him to screen his collection for them only to find themselves on a path of memories, immersed in the film universe that has, over 40 years, contributed to creating the international image of Beirut as a shining star. In the context of the war that has destroyed this city, the projection of the films that the two girls set up gives the city back a taste of its own history.
Jocelyne Saab (1948–2019) was a Lebanese journalist and film director. She is recognized as one of the pioneers of
Lebanese cinema. She studied economics at university and in 1973, she began her career as radio journalist, working both
in Beirut and Paris. In 1975, she went back to her hometown to report on the war that was about to break out in Lebanon,
using her camera. War reportage marked Saab’s foray into cinema and would become a distinctive feature of her oeuvre.
She was also a photographer and visual artist, and would frequently cross the border between fiction and documentary,
increasingly blending the two.
Post screening discussion with Nezar Andary.
Sunday, June 12 – Part 2 – Family Archives
Director: Ricky D’Ambrose
2021, 1hr 28 min, USA
An only child’s meditative, impressionistic account of an American family’s rise and fall over two decades at a historical moment marked by diminished expectations, navigating the personal and financial upheavals of life in the 1980s and 1990s.
“Stunningly simple yet daring (...) D’Ambrose’s exceptional style and technique evoke his equally original concept of the very nature of personality and character—and of the cinema itself.” — Richard Brody, The New Yorker
DON’T GET TOO COMFORTABLE
Director: Shaima Al-Tamimi
2021, 9 min, Yemen/Qatar, UAE/USA/Netherlands
English, Swahili, Arabic (English subtitles), Documentary, PG-13
Shaima Al-Tamimi shares an introspective letter to her deceased grandfather reflecting on her ancestral migrational journey and its implications over three generations, questions the continuous pattern of movement amongst Yemenis in diaspora.
The film fuses archival photographs, sourced footage, parallax animation, abstract videos to create an audio visual body of work that calls attention to the collective feeling of statelessness and sense of being felt by Yemeni (or non-Yemeni) migrants.
RADIOGRAPH OF A FAMILY
Director: Firouzeh Khosrovani
2020, 81 min, Norway/Iran/Switzerland
Persian, French (English subtitles), Documentary, PG-13
A love story, two different beliefs, a family in the turmoil of Iran’s modern history. A Pre- and Post-revolutionary story of the daughter of a secular father and a devout Muslim mother, as they co-exist under one roof in Tehran. The Islamic Revolution took place in the director’s home. It affected every corner of their family life.
“My story is told through photographs, archive footage, letters and voices. Our home in Tehran becomes a metaphor of the shifts in our family, hence in modern Iranian society.” — Firouzeh Khosrovani
Winner: Best Feature-Length Documentary, IDFA 2020