The Arab Film Festival (AFF) presents its 16th annual festival in the San Francisco Bay Area and the 6th annual version in Los Angeles, Oct 19-21, once again at the Writers Guild of America Theatre, 135 S. Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills 90211. On Oct. 19th at 8 pm, the opening night centerpiece film is Man Without a Cell Phone. The 8 pm screening is preceded by a VIP reception at 6:30 pm at the Writers Guild Theater of America. Haaz Sleiman, the Lebanese American star of The Visitor and the British mini-series The Promise, will host the opening of the festival.
On Oct. 20th at 7:45 pm, the Levantine Cultural Center's New Voices in Middle Eastern Cinema series will cosponsor Faouzi Bensaidi's award-winning Moroccan drama Death for Sale, set in the port city of Tetouan. Also premiering on the West Coast, Arab Film Festival veteran Iara Lee explores the Syrian conflict through the humanity of the civilians displaced to the squalor of refugee camps in the feature documentary The Suffering Grasses, which screens at the Writers Guild Oct. 20th at 11 am. Hip-Hop artist hailing from the great Nation-State-of-Mind known as "SyrianamericanA" Omar Offendum will be the special guest leading a Q&A October 20th after the screening.
The festival runs October 11th-21st in San Francisco, San Jose, Berkeley and Los Angeles. The Arab Film Festival is North America's largest and longest running exhibitor of independent Arab movies from and about the Arab World. This year's fest of 40 films from 27 countries offers a full complement of narrative and documentary features, doc and narrative short films with National and West Coast Premieres.
Among films presenting perspectives infrequently aired in mainstream American media is the North American premiere of Karama Has No Walls, which depicts the turning point in Yemen's revolution. Filmmaker Sara Ishaq will be present for the October 14th screening to discuss documenting the contrast between the festive peaceful protest and its transformation to a war zone.
From Egypt comes the courageous spirit of a young Egyptian female journalist in documentary Words of Witness screening in the Bay Area premiere, and the evocative narrative feature Lust - Egypt's 84th Academy Awards submission. As eclectic in its adventures as its title, The Virgin, The Copts and Me from Egyptian-French filmmaker Namir Abdel Messeeh provides comic relief via his escapades researching the story behind apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Egypt.
Jess Ghannam, President of the Board of the Arab Film Festival, adds "We're pleased to screen films that illuminate the diversity of the Arab experience, and show the beauty and talent of Arab culture." Says Jordan Elgrably, director of the Levantine Cultural Center, the Arab Film Festival's community sponsor, "Film is the single best medium with which we can address issues of anti-Arab discrimination, Islamophobia and the problems posed by mainstream American media that often paints Arab and Middle Eastern culture in simplistic, negative sound bytes."
Visit www.arabfilmfestival.org for the complete festival schedule. Tickets may be purchased online or at theaters. For ticket information, call 415.564.1100.