Alwan for the Arts, 3rd i NY, and the South Asian Women's Creative Collective are once again joining forces to bring New York audiences the best in recent features, docs, & shorts from North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and their diasporas at prestigious venues such as Tribeca Cinemas, Columbia University, Art in General, and NYU.
Scheduled for March 5-16, 2008, the New York Arab and South Asian Film Festival (NYASAFF) strives to bring you films and videos that achieve the highest artistic quality as well as provide a much-needed counterpoint to the stereotypical representations often encountered in mainstream media.
Although our organizations came together as a result of the geopolitical realities of the contemporary post 9-11 world, over time, we have also discovered the need to reflect on the complex and intertwined histories of these regions and the ways in which our art, music, philosophy, and literature have enriched and inflected each other over millennia.
As we finalize the 2008 NYASAFF program, we are happy to announce several highlights and themes that should delight and challenge viewers. The 2008 fest rolls out a slew of US and NY Premiere features that range from politically astute comedies to gritty, yet poignant examinations of urban poverty. An emerging theme amongst this roster of films is the multi-faceted nature of sexual desire in the Arab & South Asian world, stories of love and attraction marked by racial and class tension, war, religious restrictions, and the hardships of migration. Joseph Massad, Associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University and author of Desiring Arabs - a diverse compendium of Arabic writing from the nineteenth century to the present charting changes in Arab sexual attitudes, will guest curate a retrospective program, Bellydancing in Egyptian Cinema. Tribeca alternative arts space, Art in General, will play host to an evening of Art Videos, that will be guest curated by √Ėzkan Cang√ľven, a graduate of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, and Swati Khurana, a member of South Asian Women's Creative Collective and media artist, who has put together program of experimental Arab & South Asian shorts that will examine the subject of storytelling and its complicated connection to the real. Finally, filmmaker Tala Hadid has put together a collection of videos that take innovative formal approaches to the notion of resistance against contemporary imperialisms.
US & NY Premieres include:
AmericanEast tells a real story of Arabs living in the US from their perspective. Featuring Emmy Award-winning actor Tony Shalhoub and Kais Nashif (of Paradise Now fame), the film demonstrates, with both humor and raw emotion, how friendships are tested amongst diverse patrons of a Middle Eastern restaurant in Los Angeles when the owner decides to partner with a Jewish businessman.
Cut & Paste is the latest romantic comedy by Egyptian female director Hala Khalil, starring Hanan Turk and Sherif Mounir as two young Egyptians who plot a bogus marriage in order to emigrate to New Zealand. Khalil exploits the hilarity of a marriage of convenience that unexpectedly turns into something more.
Night Shadows by Algerian director Nasser Bakhti takes us beneath the privileged exterior of Geneva, Switzerland where we meet five multi- racial and cultural characters, and monitor their deeply desperate lives over 24 hours.
Rising Tunisian director Jilani Saadi also takes viewers into the grittier side of urban life with Tender is the Wolf, in which a gentle young man and his group of outcast friends must pay the price when they rape a prostitute.
In the Name of God (Khuda Kay Liye), the Pakistani 170 minute debut epic which won its director Shoaib Mansoor the Silver Pyramid award at the 2007 Cairo International Film Festival is about a young man's musical career that is turned upside in the intersection of politics and religion in post 9/11 Pakistan. With all the Bollywood elements of musical stars (Naseeruddin Shah); love and romance; politics, religion and intrigue, In the Name of God is a riveting complex plot that switches from Lahore to London, from Waziristan to Chicago with urgent pace dissecting relationship and sentiments, without losing grip on its multilayered narrative.
Penny Woolcock directs one of the most refreshing, funny, yet hard- hitting films to come from the UK in years with Mischief Night. Set in the council estates of Leeds during Mischief Night, the Yorkshire version of Halloween, children's pranks unwittingly break the barriers between two families, one white and one Pakistani, in a blaze of crime, clubbing, love and fireworks - changing all their lives forever.
Morshedul Islam's Doll House is a story of anguish and love set against the backdrop of war. Rehana, a headstrong young woman, arrives in a village along with other refugees during the turmoil of liberation in Bangladesh, 1971. There she meets and comes to love Yakub who is torn between protecting her and joining the fight.
Bellydancing in Egyptian Cinema
Take Care of Zuzu (Khali balak min zuzu) portrays a student who has paid her way through college by bellydancing in her mother's troupe. She has kept this fact a secret, but has decided to give up dancing because she has fallen in love with a college professor. His ex-fiancee discovers Zuzu's secret and tries to sabotage her. Featuring Hussein Fahmy and Soad Hosny.
Shafiqa the Copt (Shafiqaa al-Koptiyya) tells the story of a legendary bellydancer born to conservative Coptic parents whose early death left her poor. She rose to fame by dancing in the "El dorado" nightclub, where she was the first to do the candelabra dance before owning her own club. She eventually succumbed to addiction and died in 1926. Featuring Hind Rostom, Hassan Youssef, and Zizi El Badrawi.
Art Video Programs
"The country, not the bird" curated by √Ėzkan Cang√ľven
√Ėzkan Cang√ľven is a independent curator, originally from Turkey who is currently living and working in New York. Graduated from Bard College Center for Curatorial Studies last summer where he curated his thesis show "We Love Cinema" with artists appropriating cinema in their works. Cang√ľven previously worked at New Museum of Contemporary Art and at Scenic as curatorial assistant to curators Simon Watson and Craig Hansela. He has currently curated an film screening with Shirin Neshat and Matthew Barney in IfIstanbul Film Festival in Istanbul and working on other curatorial projects.
"This screening consists of a selection of videos that impressed me as a curator and as an avid video art fan. With their aesthetic creativity and technical execution, they are among the most impressive of the last couple of years."
The Stories We Tell Curated by Swati Khurana
This video program will feature short, experimental works by South Asian and Arab artists whose work reveals the tenuous nature of story-telling. The videos will be a combination of home movies as necessary fictions, excavations of propaganda and other effective formats of lie-spreading, documentary efforts at revealing the'real', the stories that performances and performativity can tell, and narrative films where the act of telling the story becomes the narrative.
"On the Edge of Empire: Explorations of the Time-Image" Curated by Tala Hadid
Tala Hadid, born in London and trained as a painter, is the author of several works of fiction, a filmmaker, and producer whose work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the NationalMuseum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C. Hadid's film Tes Cheveux Noirs Ihsan, which received a student Academy Award in 2005, was screened at numerous film festivals around the world. Her selection encompasses films from Lebanon to the heart of Europe, from Egypt to the Sudan, where the image continues to be approached in radical and formally interesting ways by artists on the'edge of empire'. A selection of work where the image comes to be a place of resistance, a site of exploration, of different ways of seeing, that continues to challenge the hegemonic norms of image production.
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Also of Note
2008 NYASAFF Sponsors & Support, Festival Staff and Core Organizations"
Festival Special Events"
RSVP for the Festival Gala"