Contemporary Arab Cinema 2017

Sep. 22–28, 2017

This last year has been a whiplash of unexpected events: Brexit, a Trump presidency—culture clashes everywhere we turn. The clashes between Muslims and Christians, Lebanese Christians and Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese, religious extremists and moderates, traditionalists and urbanists all come to a head as the leading theme of the sixth annual edition of Contemporary Arab Cinema.

Get ready for a week of fascinating, provocative movies, engaging conversation, and the opportunity to reconnect with old friends.

Lina Matta, curator

Lina Matta will host every screening.


The InsultSep. 22

  Ziad Doueiri’s previous film, The Attack, was a hit with JBFC audiences, which makes us especially pleased to present his latest, The Insult. It’s a modern-day fable about dignity and justice in Lebanon, in which a trivial disagreement between a Palestinian construction worker and his Christian neighbor leads to a taut courtroom drama that [...]

In BetweenSep. 23

  “After watching Maysaloun Hamoud’s sparkling, taboo-breaking first feature In Between, audiences will have to seriously update their ideas about the lifestyle of Palestinian women in Israel,” says The Hollywood Reporter. This engaging, controversial film—about what happens when a veiled Muslim woman moves into a Tel Aviv apartment with a couple of partying Arab-Israelis—has won [...]

SolitaireSep. 23

  Therese, the wife of a mayor of a small Lebanese village, holds tightly to the memory of her brother, who was killed by a Syrian bomb during the Lebanese Civil War 20 years ago. She’s hung photos of him all over the house, and she talks to them constantly (and they, in turn, talk [...]

The PreacherSep. 24

You’ll be riveted by this political thriller about a moderate Muslim television preacher in a largely conservative society. A charismatic, charming man, he enjoys a lavish lifestyle buoyed by the devotion of millions of followers who rely on him for hope and encouragement. But since his message deviates from traditional religious rhetoric, it focuses unwanted [...]

Before the Summer CrowdsSep. 25

A wry, incisive look at the Egyptian bourgeoisie, this enjoyable drama follows the people on holiday at a beach resort near Alexandria in the off-season. Among the crowd are the lecherous Dr. Yehia and his overlooked wife, Magda, along with an attractive (and needy) recently divorced mother and her secret lover—and they’re not exactly having [...]

The Dark WindSep. 25

Reko and Pero, a young Yazidi couple, are preparing for their wedding when ISIS fighters attack their village, capturing Pero, along with other women and girls. As they are sold as slaves and subjected to the most horrifying abuses, Reko holds onto hope that he will find his fiancée and that they can be together [...]

TramontaneSep. 26

Rabih is a blind musician from a small Lebanese village whose band is about to embark on an international trip. He needs a passport. But going to the passport office to perform the mundane task of submitting paperwork proves to be the beginning of a trip of a whole other kind. First, the officials tell [...]

ClashSep. 26

Police in Tahrir Square arrest and lock up a group of Muslim Brotherhood government supporters along with anti-regime demonstrators. This hard-hitting drama from Mohamed Diab (Cairo 678) is filmed entirely inside the paddy wagon where the opposing protestors are confined in all-too-close proximity. It’s “a rather amazing New Wave–style drama that combines claustrophobic intimacy with [...]

Ghost HuntingSep. 27

Filmmaker Raed Andoni places an ad in a Ramallah newspaper, looking for former inmates of West Jerusalem’s notorious interrogation and detention center, Moskobiya. After gathering the applicants, he arranges for a replica of the facility’s interrogation rooms and cells to be built to scale and in this realistic setting the men reenact their experience as [...]

The Nile Hilton IncidentSep. 27

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema at the Sundance Film Festival, this stunning political thriller is based on a true story. Just weeks before the 2011 Egyptian revolution that would eventually oust President Hosni Mubarak, Noredin Mustafa, an ordinary police officer in Cairo’s corrupt system, investigates the murder of a beautiful club [...]

Last Men in AleppoSep. 28

Winner of the Grand Jury Documentary prize at the Sundance Film Festival, this breathtaking work—a searing example of boots-on-the-ground reportage in war-torn Syria—follows the internationally recognized White Helmets, an organization comprised of ordinary citizens who rush toward explosions in the hope of saving lives. Incorporating moments of heart-pounding suspense and improbable beauty, the documentary draws [...]

HediSep. 28

Winner of the Best First Feature award as well as the Silver Bear for Best Actor (for Majd Mastoura) at the Berlin International Film Festival, this is both a touching, provocative portrait of male suffocation in traditional Muslim society and a universal tale of having to choose between love and duty. Hedi is a passive [...]