“Middle East Now”, the Florence festival on the most contemporary Middle Eastern culture

“Middle East Now” get back to Florence from 4 to 9 October 2022to the Cinema The Companyto the Stensen cinema and in other city spaces, with a multiform program of events, including cinema, documentaries, art, exhibitions, music, food, meetings and cultural projects in a broader sense. This is a festival that has always been characterized by a strong attention to current events, to the story of the newest and most vibrant phenomena of the cultures and societies of the contemporary Middle East, which today more than ever need to be explored. Here are some previews:

AN ABSTRACT OF HOME: theme of the 2022 festival
We are constantly looking for a house. We pursue it in nostalgia, in imagination, in dreams about the future or in childhood memories. The house is a universal concept and has many dimensions. It can be a family, a partner, a child, or a close friend. Home is where you were born or any other place other than where you were born. It can be on the fringes, nonconformist and rebellious. One can find a home in culture and in the past, in being and in becoming. It is found in spirituality and language, in the visible and in the invisible. It continues in the homeland of origin and exists in new and foreign lands. In migrating from one city to another or from one country to another, we are continually looking for a home, a sense of familiarity, which pushes us towards self-discovery, imposes questions of belonging and identity. In this year’s program we want to share the work of artists and directors from the Middle East who use their creativity to express the countless meanings and interpretations of the concept of Home.

Over 30 preview films, awarded in the best international festivals, for a cinematic journey that touches all the countries of the Middle East: strong stories, characters, the hot topics of current affairs in the most recent titles from Lebanon, Iran, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen. A program that will make the public aware of the cultures and societies of these countries, with a perspective that tries to go beyond the prejudices and clichés with which they are often represented.
A 13th edition with many special screenings, in which the protagonists will be directors and guests invited to Florence to present the films and explore them with the audience in the hall, with also a program of online projections in the virtual room Più Compagnia in collaboration with MyMovies.

Middle East Now is organized by the cultural association Map of Creation, with the artistic direction of Lisa Chiari and Roberto Ruta, the contribution of the Tuscany Region as part of the Tuscan Contemporary Senses Program for Cinema, Municipality of Florence, Fondazione CR Firenze, with the support of the Why the Best Hotels Florence Group, the Niels Stensen Foundation, Museo Novecento Firenze, MyMovies, Ponte 33, in partnership with Meltin’Concept, and other local and international institutions and partners.

FOCUS CINEMA: An Abstract of Home through Cinema!
A curated selection of 8 documentary and fiction films, selected by the festival together with the Lebanese artist and curator Roï Saade, invites us to reflect on the concept of “home” in the Middle East, represented on the big screen through different perspectives: in nostalgia, in the family, in cinema, in the similar and in the different. Among the titles of the focus: from Iraq the documentary in international preview TAKE ME TO THE CINEMA (2022), an extraordinary journey into the Baghdad cinemas of yesteryear, in which director Albaqer Jafeer draws a parallel between his anxieties as a young director and the experiences of a writer in 1980s Iraq. From Lebanon, THE BLUE INMATES (2021) by director Zeina Daccache, a bold and exciting documentary that leads us to follow the staging of a play among the mentally ill inmates of the infamous Roumieh prison.
From Palestine, The Stranger (2021) by Ameer Fakher Eldin, the first film about Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights, centered on nostalgia as a desire for a home that no longer exists or has never existed.

Again from Palestine comes the opening film HUDA’S SALON (2021), the latest gripping thriller by an author of the caliber of Hany Abu-Assad, a spy story based on real facts with a powerful female interpretation.

From Lebanon THE SEA AHEAD (2021), the first work by the young director Eli Dagher, a beautiful and enigmatic portrait of Beirut, a battered and impenetrable city, seen through the eyes of Jana, the young protagonist who returns to her country after several years, feeling totally disconnected from this reality.

And again from Jordan, DAUGHTERS OF ABDUL-RAHMAN (2021) by director and screenwriter Zaid Abu Amdan, an all-female drama starring four very different sisters, which depicts how many Jordanian women put the traditional expectations of their patriarchal society before their own desires.

The powerful documentary on Afghanistan MELTING DREAMS (2021) by director Haidy Kancler, the story of a group of young Afghan girls who wish to become professional skiers and represent Afghanistan at the Olympic Games.

Morocco with the beautiful all-female road movie MALIKATES [QUEENS] (2022) by the young director Yasmine Benkiran, acclaimed at the last Venice Film Festival. The feature film is still an Italian premiere from Iran IMAGE (2022) by Ali Behrad, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival Critics’ Week, in which a taxi driver at night falls in love with a woman he cannot have, and for this he must deal with a series of encounters full of mystery and fantasy .

The MOVIES THAT MATTER collaboration, human rights festival

New in this edition is a special selection of films curated by MOVIES THAT MATTER, The Hague-based film festival in the Netherlands entirely focused on human rights and films that bring about social change. At Middle East Now the festival will offer the screening of the films I AM A BASTARD (2022) by Ahmet Polat, documentary on the search for the identity of a Moroccan actor transplanted to the Netherlands; and then ALONG THE WAY (2022) by Mijke De Jong, in which two twin sisters must survive the hostilities of Afghanistan after the loss of their parents. And finally BEIRUT DREAMS IN

COLOR (2022), documentary in which the award-winning director Michael Collins tells the story of a pioneering indie rock band like Lebanese Mashrou ‘Leila, a brave fan, and a queer activist’s daunting battle for equality against religious extremists.

The audience AUDIENCE AWARD, the BEST OFF Award, and the STAFF Award are back

In addition to the last set up “Iran and Afghanistan Cinema Award”the prizes that the festival already awards are back: the “Middle East Now Audience Award”for the best film voted by the public, the “Best OFF“, Recognition for the best auteur short film conferred by OFF Cinema, and the”Middle East Now Staff Award “ to the best short or medium-length film, awarded by the festival staff.

Among the special events of this edition:

Bound Narratives: A Photobook Library
from 6-16 October at the Museo Novecento in Florence, edited by Roï Saade
A special event exhibition that features a curated curated selection of photography books made “by” and “about” the Middle East and North Africa by a wide variety of talented authors and artists. An exhibition in which the photobook is presented beyond its classic definition, bringing out its great evolution and the importance it has assumed in recent years. Through documentary photography books, diaries, academic research, essays, archival images, sketches and more, Bound Narratives stresses the importance of sharing the myriad perspectives of local and diasporic communities, the power of subversive narratives and self-representation. He wants to create channels of contact between professionals, creatives and book enthusiasts, creating a space for the exchange of ideas about books and photography, supporting the importance of preserving the work that contributes to the arts and cultural memory. Finally, in a world driven by technology and uncertainty, the project aims to promote the great value of the printed book.

The focus on comics and graphic novels is back, to observe the Middle East from a different point of view than usual, through a series of talks and workshops with the authors.

The Bookshop dedicated to the theme AN ABSTRACT OF HOME
The festival will present a new edition of its library-installation at the Cinema La Compagnia, designed by the group of architects Archivio Personal, and which will be inspired by the theme of the festival, proposing a literary journey through the novels and essays that best express the concept of research of Home and a sense of familiarity, through the telling of stories and perspectives of life in the Middle East. The selection will be curated by Chiara Comito, founder of Arab Publishing, a reference blog for fiction from the Arab world.

Also at this edition a program full of conversations, debates, book presentations and insights on strong and topical issues, curated by Giuseppe Alizzi, Middle East expert, architect and essayist. The festival invites experts, authors, journalists, essayists, cartoonists, artists to talk about today’s Middle East and some of its hottest current issues on the stage of the Cinema La Compagnia.

For more information: www.middleastnow.it

“Middle East Now”, the Florence festival on the most contemporary Middle Eastern culture