Cinema Akil and Warehouse421 are launching an online film programme that will screen three contemporary Arab documentaries followed by live discussions with their directors.
The series is set to kick off on Wednesday, October 28, with the documentary The Borrowed Dress by Dubai filmmaker Leen Alfaisal.
The film follows the journey of Alfaisal's family as they flee their native Syria to escape the horrors of the civil war engulfing the country and live as refugees in different parts of the world.
"It was my first feature and of huge personal significance," Alfaisal told The National in 2018. "I didn't realise how hard it would be working on something that is your own. I was also camerawoman for the film, filming the saddest parts of the story where someone has to leave or is faced with a decision they don't know what to do with, and it's difficult because this is my family, they're my heart and soul.
"I’d be holding the camera and crying, but at the same time trying to do everything professionally from a documentarian perspective.”
Nujoom Al Ghanem's Honey, Rain and Dust will be showing next on Wednesday, November 18. The film follows three honey experts in the UAE as they try to continue working amid a growing honeybee crisis.
Two of the experts, Aisha and Fatima, travel through Ras Al Khaimah's mountain ranges in the Northern Emirates on the hunt for pockets of wild honey. At the same time, their friend Ghareeb reflects on their way of life in his mountain-top bee sanctuary. Honey, Rain and Dust tells the story of both beekeepers and bees, touching on the ongoing ecological crisis and its impact on this ancient practice.
The programme will conclude with Suhaib Gasmelbari's Talking About Trees on Wednesday, December 9. The film – a testament to the resolve of a country'scinephiles and directors – follows four members of the Sudanese Film Group as they endeavour to bring film screenings back to their local community. Through the various financial, logistical and bureaucratic ordeals that the group weathers, viewers are given an unprecedented look into the not-so-absent past and present of Sudanese film.
"They faced a lot of obstacles and bureaucracy and censorship, even from the democratic governments, because they [the governments] looked at cinema as a tool of power," Gasmelbari told The National last year.
All three films will be screened at 7.30pm on their respective dates and will be followed by a live Q&A session with their directors. The sessions will be moderated by media figures from the region, including Emirati presenter Ibrahim Ustadi and Sudanese writer Hussam Hilali.
The programme marks the fifth year of Warehouse421 and Cinema Akil’s collaboration, which began in 2016 with a series of successful pop-ups at the Abu Dhabi cultural hub.
“We are excited to push forward with our programme as usual, except we’ll be meeting you all digitally this time around," said Butheina Kazim, founder of Cinema Akil. "These films speak of the overarching resilience across the Arab world that resonates with us and what we are working to achieve through Cinema Akil and our relationship with Warehouse421.”
Screenings are free to attend; to register for the programme or for more information, visit warehouse421.ae