The 7 Middle Eastern films to see at the London Film Festival
One film tells a story of recovery from a survivor of attacks in Paris and another remastered film had been feared lost
Arab and Middle Eastern films are adding flavour to this year’s London Film Festival, including one directed by a survivor of the terror attacks in France that has already attracted interest at the Venice Film Festival.
Among the offerings from the Arab world are Zanka Contact, 200 Metres and Henet Ward. Other films on the agenda from and about the region include a 1976 offering that was feared lost, Chess of the Wind, as well as new movies 180° Rule, and Notturno, and a short called Asho.
Zanka Contact, directed by Moroccan filmmaker Ismael El Iraki, plays on his experiences of recovery following the French terror attack he witnessed. He was in the audience at Bataclan when extremists attacked Paris sites.
The film throws together two people, a con artist and a fading rock star, both recovering from PTSD, and stars Ahmed Hammoud and Moroccan music star Khansa Batma, who won the Best Actress award at Venice for her role in the film.
The film pays homage to London’s rock scene, the visuals of Westerns, and the music of the desert and Casablanca.
Chess of the Wind was originally made in 1976 and was thought lost after the 1979 Revolution in Iran. It was screened publicly just once. Described as “like the Persian love child of Tennessee Williams and Ingmar Bergman” the film, directed by Mohammad Reza Aslani has been remastered for 2020.
In 200 Metres, Mustafa says goodnight to his children using a torch as he signals across the Israeli-constructed wall and the 200 metres that keeps them apart.
The film, written and directed by Palestinian Ameen Nayfeh and produced by May Odeh exposes the tough realities of everyday life in Palestine.
In 180° Rule, an Iranian team led by Farnoosh Samadi and Ali Mosaffa tells the story of a wedding-day tragedy in the mountains that highlights the oppressiveness of what is often left unsaid.
Notturno, directed by Italian Gianfranco Rosi, is a documentary set in the border communities of Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria and Lebanon.
Henet Ward is a 22-minute short telling the story of a Sudanese henna painter preparing an Egyptian bride for her wedding. As she paints, complicity is replaced by suspicion in a film written by Mohamed Ali Mansour and Morad Mostafa. Mostafa also directed.
In Asho, written and directed by Iranian Jafar Najafi, a young film-loving shepherd dreams of being an actor and marrying Jodie Foster.
This year, the London Film Festival starts on Wednesday, October 7 and runs until Sunday, October 18.
For more information about the programme, go to bfi.org.uk/london-film-festival
Updated: September 17, 2020 10:48 AM