CineMAS 2023: The alternative film festival.
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Manarat Al Saadiyat has been celebrating the many facets of culture with our communities through a rich programme that keeps growing, year after year, with your support.
MAS is happy to present to all film enthusiasts the fifth edition of CineMAS: the alternative film festival that showcases some of the best indie talents and the must-see films of our time.
We welcome you to this engaging programme featuring regional and international stories of neighbourhoods, preservation, family, science and spirituality with insights and experiences that resonate. Enjoy talks with directors and watch films made in the United Arab Emirates and the region, only at CineMAS!
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Hind Mezaina is an artist, film curator, and writer. She is also the founder of The Culturist blog, the co-founder of Tea with Culture podcast, and the Moving Image Editor for Tribe magazine.
Mezaina has curated film screenings for local institutions, including Louvre Abu Dhabi, NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, Sharjah Art Foundation, The Africa Institute, and Jameel Arts Centre.
Monday, 29 May 2023
Under the Fig Trees
Director: Erige Sehiri
2022, 92 min, Tunisia, Drama, Arabic with English and Arabic subtitles, PG-13
In northwest Tunisia, young women work the summer harvest. Under the gaze of older workers and men, they flirt, tease and argue. Throughout the day, the orchard becomes a theatre of emotions, where everyone's dreams and hopes are played out. CinemaNa – Contemporary Arab Cinema Series. Presented by the NYUAD Film and New Media Program in partnership with the Arts Center
Tuesday, 30 May 2023
Theme: Different Realities
Bi Roya/Without Her
Director: Arian Vazirdaftari
2023, 111 min, Drama/Thriller, Iran, Persian, Danish with English subtitles, PG13
Just two weeks before Roya is set to emigrate from Iran to Denmark, she encounters a quiet young girl who appears to be lost and doesn’t remember anything. Roya takes her in, providing her with a home and introducing her to her husband, family and friends — all the while blissfully unaware that this girl has come to replace her.
Director: Ali Cherri
2022, 80 min, Sudan, Drama, Arabic with English subtitles, PG13
Sudan, near the Merowe dam.
Maher works in a traditional brickyard fed by the waters of the Nile. Every evening, he secretly wanders off into the desert to build a mysterious construction made of mud. While the Sudanese people rise to claim their freedom, his creation starts to take a life of its own…
Wednesday, 31 May 2023
Director: Jumana Manna
2022, 64 min, Palestine, Documentary, Arabic, Hebrew with English subtitles, PG
Foragers depicts the dramas around the practice of foraging for wild edible plants in Palestine/Israel. Shot in the Golan Heights, the Galilee and Jerusalem, the film employs fiction, documentary and archival footage to capture the joy and knowledge embodied in these traditions alongside their resilience to a prohibitive law.
Directors: Volker Sattel and Francesca Bertin
2022, 86 min, Germany, Italy, Documentary, Italian with English subtitles, PG15
Tara, the ‘River of Good Fortune’, located in the Italian port city of Tanato, is ridden with legends and said to have healing, magical powers despite being in one of the most polluted cities in Europe. Through precise, poetic images, Tara explores the parallel between economic and ecological exploitation, while following people living on the margins of post-capitalism.
Thursday, 1 June 2023
Director: Ahmad Abdalla
2022, 90 min, Egypt, Arabic with English subtitles, PG13
An old guard lives in a dilapidated villa that he watches over and considers his home. One day, he finds himself forced to face a situation with a person who lives in the opposite street — a situation that will mark a turning point in his life.
Director: Kavich Neang
2021, 90 min, Cambodia, France, China, Qatar, Khmer with English subtitles, PG13
Twenty-year-old Samnang and two of his friends live in the White Building, a landmark tenement in Phnom Penh. In this fast-changing city, the three boys practice their dance routine, dreaming of television talent contests, while their parents lead a more traditional lifestyle. But the White Building is to be demolished, and Samnang finds that the stable environment he has always called home is on shaky ground.
Friday, 2 June
Theme: Science and Spirituality
A Letter from Al Barzakh
Director: Waleed Al Madani
2019, Belgium, 15 min, Arabic with English subtitles, PG
Al Barzakh is a period of time where the dead live between the moment they die and their judgement day. In this experimental documentary, director Waleed Al Madani takes the audience to this place, imagining his first moments there, “the moments I start to realise my loneliness, realise that I’m not going to see my mother again, my ocean of thoughts, my fire…and the moment I realise where I am, freed from loneliness.”
All of Our Heartbeats are Connected Through Exploding Stars
Director: Jennifer Rainsford
2022, 77 min, Sweden, English, Japanese, English subtitles, PG
In the wake the largest earthquake in modern history, and the devastating tsunami that followed, we meet Yasu, who dives in search of his lost wife; Sachiko, who writes letters to her husband who was taken by the wave; and Satoko, a young woman struggling to overcome her trauma. Backed by scientific research and a staggering score by Teho Teardo, Jennifer Rainsford’s debut feature tells the tale of the interconnectedness of all living organisms on planet Earth.
Fragments From Heaven
Director: Adnane Baraka
2022, 82 min, Morocco, France, Berber, Arabic, French with English subtitles, PG
Looking for rocks in the vastness of the Moroccan desert may seem absurd — unless they are celestial stones, with the power to change the lives of those who find them. Mohamed, the nomad, and Abderrahmane, the scientist, comb the arid lands looking for meteorites, each for his own reasons.
Saturday, 3 June 2023
Theme: Bayn Al Khaleej
Gulf Shorts - Past Present
A program of short films from the Gulf region by filmmakers looking at the past through personal and cultural histories. All the films are rated PG13
Director: Muzna Alumusafer
2020, 15 min, Oman
In 1978, in the south of Oman, Dablan, a widower, lives with his children Salma and Amr in a traditional rural village. Dablan faces pressure from his tribe to kill a leopard threatening the village — pressure that increases when he resolves to set the animal free. Clouds is a journey inside a tribal society undergoing transformation, shot with intimacy and palpable empathy.
Post screening discussion with the director of Clouds, Muzna Alumsafer.
VHS Tape: Replaced
Director: Maha Al-Saati
2022, 17 min, Saudi Arabia, Arabic with English subtitles
Set in 1987, a young black Saudi man attempts to impress his crush by mimicking an iconic 1980s singer. Against the backdrop of an era of analogue media, VHS Tape: Replaced explores the topic of racial identity through a unique perspective.
Now Showing (Yarad Halil)
Director: Abdullah Al Daihani
2014, 19 min, Kuwait, Short Narrative, Arabic with English subtitles
Kuwait, 1983: young film buff Mishari introduces his friend Abdulrahman to the magic of the movies at the local Granada Cinema, even though Abdulrahman’s conservative family has forbidden him to go to the cinema. Soon, the boys spend all their time watching movies — and discussing their own future films. In the face of cruel twists, the bond they share through cinema can never be broken.
And Then They Burn the Sea
Director: Majid Al-Remaih
2021, 13 min, Qatar, Documentary, Arabic with English subtitles
In this elegiac contemplation on familial memory and loss, Majid Al-Remaih ruminates on the experience of bearing witness to his mother’s gradual and terminal memory loss. Weaving through a personal family archive, re-enacted dreams and rituals, the film underlines the promise of cinema as a medium for memories, even at their most irretrievable.
Directors: Adam Sjöberg and Seanne Winslow
2021, 100 min, Arabic and English, with subtitles
Inspired by true events, The Falconer is about two best friends in Oman, Tariq, the son of a poor beekeeper, and Cai, a privileged Westerner. Their care-free friendship is challenged when Tariq promises to help his sister, Alia, escape from an abusive marriage via a daring plan to sell animals stolen from the zoo where the two friends work. Forced to wrestle with morally complex choices, the vast distance between their worlds is exposed.
UAE Short Films - Family Matters
A programme of short films made in the UAE about various stages of family relations. All the films are rated PG15
Post screening discussion with the directors:
- Hamad Saghran
- Ahmed Al Mulla
- Mariam Al Serkal
- Waleed Al Madani
- Swapna Kurup
- Majed Al Zubaidi
1-0 (Nada ElAzhary, 2017, 10 min)
When a flirty text to her crush accidentally gets sent to her dad’s phone instead, a shy teenager must do whatever it takes to delete the message before her dad checks his phone.
Mommy (Ahmed Almulla, 2019, 6 min)
Suhail, a young Emirati, is going on a date with Leila. While at first the date seems to be going well, things soon start to unravel. The main reason is that Suhail’s mother is in his ear, and she is controlling every step Suhail takes.
Mid-distance (Hamad Saghran, 2022, 11 min)
Ex-fiancés Maysaa and Bader meet in the middle of the road after Maysaa's car breaks down. A dialogue between them begins where their relationship ended.
Bundle of Joy (Majed AlZubaidi, 2023, 7 min)
On the eve of his first childbirth, Hamad, a father-to-be, struggles to escape from a psychological trip that stems from the idea that his life will go on a downward spiral once he becomes a father.
Unveiling Selma (Mariam Alserkal and Maaria Sayed, 2022, 14 min)
In rural United Arab Emirates, Selma divides her days between her seven-year-old daughter and the daily household chores, until she decides to take a stand for herself.
Sheikh of Mussafah (Waleed Al Madani, 2015, 10 min)
An exploration of a man’s unstable relationship with his father, who raised him amid his mechanic's shop and tow truck business in Mussafah, Abu Dhabi’s industrial area.
Ranapakhara (Swapna Kurup, 2018, 10 min)
In a community centre in Dubai, Indian classical dancer Vonita Singh applies her art form to bring back movement to the lives of people affected by Parkinson’s Disease.
Director: Michael John Whelan
2021, 43 min, United Arab Emirates, Arabic with English subtitles
Primary Organs intertwines diverse but connected vignettes from the historic and contemporary maritime cultures of the Arabian Peninsula: a diver travels to sites once visited by Jacques Cousteau; an abandoned pearl diving village built from coral is a site of simultaneous archaeological exploration and restoration; and retired fishermen sing endangered songs.
Through slow-paced language and choreographed underwater scenes, Primary Organs explores local relationships to the sea, echoes of petro-state neocolonialism, and the roles of complicity and gesture in our climate crisis. Punctuating this journey is the voice of the marine biologist who shares her poetic observations and trepidation for the future.
Sunday, 4 June 2023
Theme: Home Movies
Love is Not an Orange
Director: Otilia Babara
2022, 73 min, Moldova, Documentary, Romanian with English subtitles
In the early 1990s, women left Moldova in large numbers to provide for their families. Unable to return home, they found a peculiar way to stay in touch: sending large cardboard boxes filled with gifts and food Romanians could only dream about in those days. In return, their children would send videotapes.
Through these intimate private archives, Otilia Babara depicts the fragility of family bonds through the eyes of a generation of mothers and daughters who were forced to live apart to survive. While doing so, she portrays a post-soviet country caught at a crossroads of history — in which women were unwittingly put in charge of making the transition from communism to capitalism.
The Super 8 Years
Directors: David Ernaux-Briot, Annie Ernaux
2022, 60 min, France, French with English subtitles
For over decade from 1972, Philippe Ernaux used a Super 8 camera to capture family life, from distant journeys to intimate moments. In this film made with her son David Ernaux-Briot, Annie Ernaux (winner of the 2022 Nobel Prize for Literature) reflects on the stories told in the margins of the footage, or beyond: Pinochet’s coup in Chile, where the family was travelling at the time; the books she was writing; the asphalt road that would later cut through a landscape.
As the children grow older and the marriage begins to come unstuck, the family is eventually left behind altogether. What remains is the film, bearing weathered witness to what once was.
In collaboration with The Institut Français UAE
Post film screening discussion with Hind Mezaina and the Head of History Department at Paris-Sorbonne University of Abu Dhabi, Dr. Yann Rodier.
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Silences of the Palace
Director: Moufida Tlatli
1996, 127min, Tunisia, Arabic, French with English subtitles, PG18
The patriarchs of the French-supported Tunisian elite marry within their own class but enjoy as concubines the women who serve the household and live downstairs. In adolescence, Alia, the child of an upstairs–downstairs relationship, becomes increasingly aware of her own mother's predicament in this power dynamic.
As an adult, Alia herself does not feel liberated, even by the musical talent which has given her a career. She must confront her own past before she can come to terms with her mother's life and death, and thereby free herself.