Saturday, October 18, 2014

19th Annual Arabian Sights Film Festival Set for November 1-9

Missed Rock the Casbah at Filmfest DC? See it November 8-9

From our friends at Arabian Sights...

The 19th Annual Arabian Sights Film Festival kicks off Saturday, November 1, presenting a diverse selection of the most captivating and vibrant films from today’s Arab world. Running through Sunday, November 9, the festival will feature innovative films from numerous Arab countries including Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia, plus European co-productions. All films in this series are Washington, DC premieres, including two North American premieres and two American premieres. All films have English subtitles.

The Arabian Sights Film Festival showcases films that demonstrate the range and diversity of directors who invariably manage to tell moving stories while exploring the complex and various issues facing their region. The Arabian Sights Audience Award will be awarded to the film voted most popular by the audience.

Highlights include our Closing Night event, featuring the Algerian film CERTIFIED HALAL, from the director of Beur, Blanc, Rouge. In this entertaining comedy, two processions collide at the tomb of the local mystic. Amidst confusion, two brides are switched... Screening will be held at the AMC Mazza Gallerie, followed by a reception. Tickets are $17.

The festival will include the North American premiere of the Lebanese film GHADI with noted director, Amin Dora, in attendance on Friday, November 7 and Saturday, November 8. Also featured will be the American premiere of THE PROOF, a thriller about a married taxi driver in Algeria, who runs into trouble when he picks up Fatima, a young woman who is single and pregnant. When he is arrested and accused of being the father of Fatima’s unborn child, he must choose between revealing his infertility and sacrificing his masculinity, or keeping silent and risking a divorce with his wife.

Another North American premiere, ABD EL KADER, is a documentary that tells the story of the legendary Emir Abd El Kader (1808-1883), Algeria’s national hero, who unified the resistance against French colonization. Widely known as a fighter for freedom, Abd El Kader was also recognized and admired for his tolerance and the need for coexistence of people of various faiths.

CHALLAT OF TUNIS is a mockumentary full of satire and irony that will have you laughing and surprised at the same time. They call him The Challat, aka “The Slasher”, and the mere mention of his name provokes fascination and terror. Is he a lone criminal, an urban legend, or could he be the creation of a political group or religious fanatics?

From Palestine, GIRAFFADA is a family friendly film about Ziad, a ten-year-old boy living in the West Bank, who is so enamored with the two giraffes at the Qalqilya Zoo that he can communicate with them. When one of his beloved giraffes is lost in an airstrike, his father is determined to bring in a new mate from the safari park in Israel.

ROCK THE CASBAH was featured in Filmfest DC 2014 and is back by popular demand! Set in a lavish villa in Tangier, Rock the Casbah is an engaging bittersweet comedy about a family gathered in the patriarch’s villa to mourn his death. There are revelations and reconciliations among three sisters during the family gathering. Featuring Omar Sharif as well as some of the Arab world’s most acclaimed female actors. Winner of the Signis Award, Filmfest DC.

SOTTO VOCE, an opera film, takes place in 1958 Algeria. Hassan has formed a chorale made up of young deaf-mutes but when the director of the medical establishment is abusive the deaf-mutes kill him. To save them from the death penalty reserved for those who kill a Frenchman and to protect this exceptional chorus, Hassan and his pupils are going to flee through the Algerian-Moroccan border, the Morice Line, an electrified and mined belt of seven hundred kilometers. Winner of the Best Film Award, Tangiers Film Festival.

From Egypt, VILLA 69 stars Khaled Abol Naga as Hussein, a stubborn bad tempered old man. When his loyal housekeeper leaves for a few days, Hussein finds his life turned upside down, especially after his sister Nadra (Lebleba) arrives to stay, bringing along her son, Seif, her maid, and driver in tow. Winner of the Special Jury Award, Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

Director Amin Dora, Ghadi
Director Mahmoud Zemmouri, Certified Halal
Producer, Marie-Laurence Attias, Certified Halal

Closing Night Reception on November 9 at AMC Mazza Gallerie.
Q&As with special guests throughout the festival.

TICKETS are $12.00 per person for each screening, unless otherwise noted. A Festival Pass is available, 9 tickets for a discounted rate of $90. This pass does not include Closing Night. Tickets may be purchased online through the Festival web site or until midnight the day before the show; tickets are also available at the theater starting one hour before the first show of the day.

For more information call 202-234-3456 or visit

Theater Locations:
AMC Mazza Gallerie
5300 Wisconsin Ave., NW | Parking garage available

Embassy of France
4101 Reservoir Road, NW | Street parking available

812 7th Street, NW

Thank You Sponsors:
Arabian Sights is presented by the Washington, DC International Film Festival. Special thanks to our sponsors: University of the District of Columbia; The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; Georgetown University, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies; Embassy of France; Turkish Airlines; Georgetown Design Group; Sahouri Insurance & Financial; The Jerusalem Fund; American-Arab Anti- Discrimination Committee; Modus Hotels, the Official Hotel of Filmfest DC.

About Filmfest DC:
Since its inception in 1987, Filmfest DC has become one of Washington's major cultural events, enhancing the profile of the nation's capital both nationally and internationally. Filmfest DC is a District- wide event, bringing together the city's major cultural institutions in a spirit of cooperation and celebration. Films that have premiered at past Festivals encompass a broad range of international cinema. Arabian Sights is one unique annual festival created and administered under the FFDC umbrella. For more information, visit

Highlight Summaries of Arabian Sights 2014 Films:
• ABD EL KADER (Algeria)
North American Premiere

• CERTIFIED HALAL (Algeria/France)
American Premiere

• CHALLAT OF TUNIS (France/Tunisia)

• GHADI (Lebanon)
North American Premiere

• GIRAFFADA (France/Germany/Italy/Palestine)

• THE PROOF (Algeria/France)
American Premiere

• ROCK THE CASBAH (France/Morocco)
Signis Award - Filmfest DC

• SOTTO VOCE (Morocco/United Arab Emirates)
Best Film Award - Tangiers Film Festival
Best Original Music Award - Tangiers Film Festival
Best Sound Award - Tangiers Film Festival
Best Film Award - African Cinema Festival of Morocco

• VILLA 69 (Egypt)
Special Jury Award - Abu Dhabi Film Festival
Best Directorial Debut - Egyptian Film Association Festival
Best Actor Award - Egyptian Film Association Festival
Best Supporting Actor Award - Egyptian Film Association Festival Best Supporting Actress Award - Egyptian Film Association Festival