12th Arab Film Festival brings U.S., Midwest premieres of Arab world films

Photo courtesy of the Arab American National Museum The Lebanese film “Solitaire” will see its Midwest debut at the 2017 Arab Film Festival hosted by the Arab American National Museum June 2 to 11 at venues throughout southeast Michigan.

Photo courtesy of the Arab American National Museum
The Lebanese film “Solitaire” will see its Midwest debut at the 2017 Arab Film Festival hosted by the Arab American National Museum June 2 to 11 at venues throughout southeast Michigan.

Themes of resistance woven into curated film lineup

Rare collection sheds new light on golden age of Arab cinema

DEARBORN — The public is invited to enjoy an opportunity to catch several renowned films created by Arab artists on the big screen, during the 2017 Arab Film Festival at the Cinetopia International Film Festival, June 2 to 11.

Presented by the Arab American National Museum, 13624 Michigan Ave., this marks the third time AFF has been presented in collaboration with Cinetopia, a six-year-old regional festival featuring a curated selection of engaging movies in venues in Dearborn, Detroit, Birmingham and Ann Arbor.

AFF aims to bring the best films from the Arab World to metropolitan Detroit by some of the most currently prolific and creative group of filmmakers. These films by both Arab world and Arab American artists are, with few exceptions, unlikely to reach American commercial theaters.

This year’s AFF will screen films that embody themes of resistance. Movies selected for the festival range from genres of drama, comedy and documentary, in both short and feature-length form. All Arab-language films will be presented with English subtitles.

“This set of AFF titles focuses on resisting and overcoming situations that many of us go through, or are exposed to through the media,” said Dave Serio, AANM educator. “Our goal is to bring folks from all across metro Detroit together to watch a movie, share a few laughs and tears, and delve into issues of resistance towards nationalism, racism, death, poverty and the current political climate.”

The lineup includes the U.S. premiere of several titles, including the Egyptian film “Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim,” directed by Sherif El Bendary at 3 p.m. June 11 at AANM. The film received glowing reviews by both The Hollywood Reporter and Variety for its depiction of friendship, self-discovery and acceptance.

AFF will also present the Midwest premiere of the Lebanese film “Solitaire,” directed by Sophie Boutros. The movie, centered around a Lebanese mother who struggles to come to terms with her daughter’s Syrian suitor, tackles issues of division and nationalism in the region. The film will play 6:45 p.m. June 3 at AANM and 9:30 p.m. June 5 at the Michigan Theater Annex Cinema in Ann Arbor.

Prior to the festival’s short-film program at 7:10 p.m., June 10, AANM will host a free screening of two short films created by young female students from AANM’s Reel Stories program. Titled “Asfoura” and “Silence,” the short films were created in a collaborative effort with the Palestinian Heritage Museum Reel Stories Cohort. The two films will be screened 5:30 p.m. June 10. For reservations, click here.

For the complete schedule, click here.

Tickets to all AFF screenings can be purchased at http://www.cinetopiafestival.org/tickets. Tickets also can be purchased at the door during the festival, based on availability.

AANM is also opening its latest exhibition in conjunction with AFF. Safar: A Journey Through Popular Arab Cinema provides festival attendees the opportunity to view vintage film posters and memorabilia from the golden age of Arab cinema (1940s to 1960s). The exhibition is free with museum admission and appears in the Lower Level Gallery from June 1 to Sept. 24.

The 2017 Arab Film Festival is made possible in part by Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Kresge Foundation.