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Entries in Middle Eastern Films (49)

Tuesday
May 14 2019

The New Classics - A Separation

Michael Cusumanoback again with my new series on great scenes/films of the 21st Century.This week a title we will surely hear often when the best of the decade lists start rolling in...

Scene: Razieh is Fired (aka The Incident)
It's rare for a movie,even a great movie,to sneak up on the audience the way Asghar Farhadi'sA Separationdoes.

The screenplay is centered around an inflection point.Everything pulling the characters inexorably toward,or ricocheting off of,the moment when a man shoves a woman out his front door.Yet this action is not granted any special emphasis.First-time viewers have no clue they've witnessed the action around which the entire story pivots.It is only a few short scenes later,when the man is on trial for causing the miscarriage of the women he pushed (a murder charge in Iran) that the weight of that shove comes crashing home...

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Wednesday
Feb 13 2019

Berlinale 2019: Three queer selections,a doc from the Sudan,and one walkout

Hallo!Seán here reporting from the 2019 Berlinale.It's the first big European film festival of the year,where new work premieres,deals get made,parties go on (and on) and where cinephiles prove their love of film by standing around in the freezing cold.I'm doing my best "Berlinale business bear"I'm here in an offical capacity: getting a first look at the queerTEDDY titles(which we'll talk about after the jump) and the short films for festivals in London and Dublin,but aside from that I'm also here to enjoy the film festival experience i.e.standing in the wrong line and walking in completely cold to something truly bizarre and extraordinary.

The Berlinale has many distinct and diverse sections,each with their own different forms and appeal.As someone who (a year later) is only a year later beginning to figure this out,allow me to impart my knowledge on the sections before we jump into the queer selection...

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Wednesday
Jan 30 2019

Sundance Short Film Winners - clues to *next"year's Oscar list?

by Nathaniel R

Sheila Vand at SundanceWe hope you've been enjoying our coverage of Sundance this year.Our two men on the ground (Murtada and Abe) havealready reviewed 10 films.Sundance wraps up next Sunday,February 3rd but we've already got our first bit of award news.A three person jury comprised of Iranian-American actressSheila Vand(We the Animals,A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night),Obie award-winning playwright/filmmakerYoung Jean Lee, and filmmakerCarter Smith(who won at Sundance 12 years ago for his gay shortBugcrush),have picked the winning shorts of the festival.Six of the seven films honored were by people of color,five were from women,and two from filmmakers who identify as LGBTQ.(Yes,Sundance has made huge diversity efforts these past few years...and they've put their money where their mouth is,both in their film selections and in press badges,even subsidizing minority journalists to combat the inequities in entertainment journalism).

Sundance is an Oscar-qualifying festival which means you might hear about a few of these shorts next year about this time if they're very lucky...

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Friday
Jan 04 2019

Review: Capernaum

Please welcome new contributor Abe Fried-Tanzer

Two years ago,despite over a dozen submissions since 1978,Lebanon hadn't had a film nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.Now,the small Middle Eastern country is looking at a likely second consecutive nomination.The Insultwas a powerful portrait of two adult men divided by hate and behaving like children.Capernaum,equally compelling,spotlights the opposite: a child acting like an adult,seemingly far more capable of understanding the world for what it is than the actual grown-ups in his life.

The sensational description of this film's plot focuses on its approximately twelve-year-old protagonist Zain (Zain Al Rafeea) suing his parents for giving birth to him.That summary may conjure up courtroom drama,but that's far from the truth of the film which takes place on merciless streets.Instead,Capernaumprovides a layered look at what it means to be responsible for another person...

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Sunday
Oct 08 2017

Nick's Foreign Film Take,Pt 1: Sheikh Jackson,First They Killed My Father...

by Nick Davis

There's niche-marketing,and then there's micro-targeting,and then there's saying to your friend Nathaniel,"I hope you'll still keep an eye out for Shahrbanoo Sadat'sWolf and Sheep,even though Afghanistan didn't select it as their Oscar submission."We really do live in a weird bubble,but that is why one is grateful for The Film Experience,亚博主页where folks are all the same kind of different as you.And as we all know,this site has been a longtime devotee of theBest Foreign Language Film Oscarin all stages of curation and competition.So,seizing the opportunity of a sympathetic audience,and amidst a season where many of the 84 movies put forward by their home countries as Academy Award contenders are floating around at festivals—big and small,rural and urban,American and elsewhere—I thought I'd weigh in on the titles I've caught.

Argentina,Zama
It's an amazing vote of artistic confidence for Argentina to choose Lucrecia Martel's deeply demanding,deeply rewarding colonialist-bughouse period drama as their contender.They passed over all three of her previous features as their submission,and as always,they had plenty of viable possibilities this year,including Santiago Mitre'sThe Summit,an absorbing drama of North and South American political machinations.That movie's somewhat televisual style might have made it palatable to some voters.Zama,by contrast,is as cinematic as they come.In fact,"they"don't really come like this: a movie almost without establishing shots or hand-holding narrative cues,aggressive with its weird ambient sounds and literally eccentric frames.The movie telegraphs the protagonist's escalating madness but without letting him go Full Aguirre and without entering the kind of outsized,Lynchian vortex that unmistakably makes the point: it's easy to watch and think that you,not Zama,are failing to keep up.This seems like a Shortlist prospect with Oscar at the very best,but it's also guaranteed to be among the year's most extraordinary movies.Talk about a summit!
My grade:A

Austria'sHappy End,Cambodia'sFirst They Killed My Father,and Egypt'sSheikh Jacksonare after the jump...

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Thursday
Sep 14 2017

TIFF: "The Breadwinner"is a visual stunner

Our ongoing adventuresat TIFF

One of the most exciting animation houses in the world is Ireland's Cartoon Saloon.In its early years its largely been a showcase for co-founder Tomm Moore who madeSecret of KellsandSong of the Sea(both deservedly Oscar nominated).Now Nora Twomey,also a co-founder,steps into the director's chair for their third feature,another visual stunner.(If you haven't seen their films yet get to it.They're doing the consistently best non-Pixar derivative animation on earth now that Studio Ghibli has slowed way down.)

This time we depart Ireland for an adaptation ofThe Breadwinner, Deborah Ellis's bestseller about an Afghani girl who disguises herself as a boy to provide for her family when her father is imprisoned by the Taliban.Without a male relative to escort them around the city they're trapped in their home with no way to earn money or go shopping...

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