Friday, October 16, 2015

20th Annual Arabian Sights Film Festival Starts Today!

The Arabian Sights Film Festival opens with Les Petit Chats

From our friends at Filmfest DC...

The 20th annual Arabian Sights Film Festival kicks off Friday, October 16 presenting a diverse selection of the newest and most captivating films from today’s Arab world. Running through Sunday, October 25, the Festival will feature 10 innovative films from numerous Arab countries including the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Palestine, and Egypt, plus European coproductions. The 20th annual Arabian Sights Film Festival is presented by the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, DC.

The Arabian Sights Film Festival showcases films that demonstrate the range and commitment of directors who invariably manage to tell moving stories while exploring issues facing their region. The Arabian Sights Audience Award will be awarded to the film voted most popular by the audience. New this year is the Arabian Sights Jury Award. Four films deserving of increased recognition have been selected and a winner will be determined by a jury of film professionals. All films in this series are Washington, DC premieres, including two American premieres and a World premiere. All films have English subtitles.

Also new this year is a panel on The New Arab Cinema which will focus on developments in Arab film and new opportunities for Arab filmmakers. Panelists will include guest directors whose films are featured in Arabian Sights plus Arab film experts.

Highlights include our Closing Night event, featuring the Emirati film FROM A TO B, a comedic road trip film, brimming with heart from the director of City of Life (Arabian Sights, 2010). Screening will be held at the AMC Mazza Gallerie followed by a reception. Tickets are $20.

The festival will include the world premiere of the “rockumentary” LES PETIT CHATS, about Egypt’s legendary band of the same name who were famous in the 60s and 70s. This film is selected to compete for the Arabian Sights Jury Award.

Also featured will be the American premiere of CAIRO TIME, a multigenerational story of six interconnected characters starring three Egyptian screen icons: Mervat Amin, Samir Sabry and Nour ElSherif. From the director of Jews of Egypt (Arabian Sights 2013).

American premiere, A THOUSAND AND ONE JOURNEYS: THE ARAB AMERICANS, is a documentary chronicling the Arab-American immigrant experience through interviews with prominent Arab-Americans, including Senator George Mitchell, Jamie Farr, General John Abizaid, Anthony Shadid, Andy Shallal, Helen Thomas, and others.

Inspired by real events, EYES OF A THIEF operates simultaneously as a thriller, a relationship drama, and as a nuanced slice of everyday Palestinian life under the Occupation. The film stars Khaled Abol Naga. This film is selected to compete for the Arabian Sights Jury Award.

FAR FROM MEN takes place in 1954 at the onset of the Algerian War of Independence. In the spirit of a classic Western, French writer-director David Oelhoffen has expanded Albert Camus’ short story The Guest. This film stars Viggo Mortensen and Reda Kateb. Recipient of three awards at the 71st Venice International Film Festival.

I AM NOJOOM, AGE 10 AND DIVORCED is a gripping feature film from Yemen based on a best-selling autobiography about a 10-year-old girl who made headline news in 2009 when she fought for a divorce and became a symbol of the movement against forced and underage marriage. Recipient of the top prize at the Dubai International Film Festival. This film is selected to compete for the Arabian Sights Jury Award.

THE INTRUDER is a captivating thriller about a Dutch cop of Moroccan descent who goes deep undercover to infiltrate a drug-trafficking Moroccan family. The deeper he embeds himself in the family’s inner circles, the more he begins to question where his loyalties lie.

From the director of Masquerades (Arabian Sights, 2009), Lyes Salem presents a poignant political drama spanning 30 years in THE MAN FROM ORAN. Following the independence of Algeria, two close friends face a promising future. But when one grows discontented with the other’s betrayal of their revolutionary ideals, their divergent political views eventually drive them apart.

Building upon two brilliant performances by Saleh Bakri and Ali Suliman, ZINZANA is a taut thriller from the United Arab Emirates filled with outrageous twists and turns. This film is selected to compete for the Arabian Sights Jury Award.

Please visit for additional descriptions on films and special events.

Majid Al Ansari, Director of Zinzana
Khadija Al Salami, Director of I am Nojoom, Age 10 and Divorced
Abe Kasbo, Director of A Thousand and One Journeys: The Arab Americans
Najwa Najjar, Director of Eyes of a Thief
Sherif Nakhla, Director of Les Petits Chats

The panel guests will include:
Majid Al Ansari, Director of Zinzana
Khadija Al Salami, Director of I am Nojoom, Age 10 and Divorced
Colin Brown, Former editor-in-chief of Screen International, editorial director of Slated, and Managing Partner of International Operations at MAD Solutions
Raymond Karam, Director of Program Outreach and Communication, The Arab Gulf States in Washington
Najwa Najjar, Director of Eyes of a Thief
Sherif Nakhla, Director of Les Petits Chats

• Reception following each of the two screenings of A Thousand and One Journeys: The Arab Americans on October 17 and 18

• The New Arab Cinema Panel Discussion on October 24

• 20th Anniversary Happy Hour on October 24

• Closing Night Reception on October 25

• Q&As with special guests throughout the festival

TICKETS are $13.00 per person for each screening, unless otherwise noted. A Festival Pass is available, 10 tickets for a discounted rate of $100. 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 visit or call (202) 234-3456.

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

Film trailers and a complete schedule are available online at Click the catalog cover image on our homepage for a downloadable PDF of the catalog.

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 Districtwide 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 2015 Films:
American Premiere
Winner, Special Jury Award, Best Actor for Nour Al Sherif, Luxor Egyptian European and Film Festival

EYES OF A THIEF (Palestine)
Winner, Best Director, Kolkota International Film Festival
Winner, Best Actor, Cairo International Film Festival


FROM A TO B (United Arab Emirates/Jordan)
Winner, Audience Choice Award at the Festival of Oran

Winner, Best fiction feature at Dubai International Film Festival 2014

THE INTRUDER (The Netherlands)
Winner, Grand prize for best film at First Time Festival 2015 and Best director award at First Time Festival 2015

World Premiere

Winner, Best director, New Horizons at Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2014 and Best film, Audience ward at Saint-Jean-de-Luz International Film Festival 2014

THE NEW ARAB CINEMA - A panel of guest film directors and Arab film experts will discuss the developments and opportunities in Arab cinema today

American Premiere

ZINZANA (United Arab Emirates)