Contemporary Arab Cinema 2021

Mar. 3–10, 2021

The past year has been like no other. People across the world have all had to come to terms with a pandemic that brought families back under one roof and familiarized us with terms like “flattening the curve,” “social distancing,” and “Zooming.” That was the ‘easy’ part. Some of us found our lives upended by this unpredictable virus, experienced the loss of our livelihoods, or the demise of loved ones. My family wasn’t spared. Sadly, my dad passed away from COVID a few days before Christmas.

As challenging as these times have been, some nations have had to endure them while wars continued to be waged, occupations persisted, natural disasters occurred, and poverty rose. Lebanon—in the throes of a financial crisis—endured yet another hit when on August 4, 2020 at 6:07 pm, a cache of ammonium nitrate illegally stored at the Beirut port exploded, devastating neighborhoods, uprooting lives, and bringing unimaginable tragedies to many. The two new films in this otherwise retrospective series tackle this cataclysmic event.

The anthology film Beirut 6:07 and the documentary Shattered Beirut 6:07 are the Lebanese film community’s attempt to convey the violence of the blast and the ravages of its brutal impact. Shot within weeks of the explosion, the films expose the need of the directors—most of whom were directly affected by the blast—to have their anguished cries, and those of their people, heard.

I conclude with the dream that 2021, with its hope for new vaccines, brings us closer to the day when we can go back to enjoying face-to-face communal activities without giving them a second thought, and the lessons of basic humanity we learned these past 12 months stay with us as the world reopens and we re-emerge to take back our lives. — Series Curator Lina Matta

A Lebanese-American based in Dubai, Lina Matta is the director of MBC Group’s channels 2, 4, Max, and Variety. She has programmed the Contemporary Arab Cinema series for the JBFC since 2012.

Admission to the series will be sold either as an all-access pass or à la carte, available in the JBFC Virtual Marquee. Pricing is $65 (members), $75 (nonmembers) for the all-access pass or $10 (members), $12 (nonmembers) per film. All films will be available to stream for the entire length of the series; films will become available at 10:00am on March 3 and will be open to stream for a week until 11:59pm on March 10. Once a film is started, pass holders will have 48 hours to finish, regardless of when in the series they start the film. Certain films in this series can and may sell out, so we encourage ticket and pass purchasers to secure their access by unlocking their films ASAP. Series passes and tickets will go on sale February 24.

Halal Love Mar. 3–10 Available March 4 at 5:00 pm—March 10 at 11:59 pm ONLY Halal Love goes behind the curtain and into the…
The Nile Hilton Incident Mar. 3–10 Available March 3 at 10:00 am—March 10 at 11:59 pm ONLY Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema…
Hedi Mar. 3–10 Available March 3 at 10:00 am—March 10 at 11:59 pm ONLY Winner of the Best First Feature award as well…
The Blessed Mar. 3–10 Available March 3 at 10:00 am—March 10 at 11:59 pm ONLY Writer/director Sofia Djama’s debut drama is set in Algiers…
The Reports on Sarah and Saleem Mar. 3–10 Available March 3 at 10:00 am—March 10 at 11:59 pm ONLY In this “taut psychosocial drama” (Variety), a Palestinian man…
10 Days Before the Wedding Mar. 3–10 Available March 3 at 10:00 am—March 10 at 11:59 pm ONLY Rasha and Ma’moon, a young couple from Yemen’s port…
Beirut 6:07 Mar. 3–10 Available March 3 at 10:00 am—March 10 at 11:59 pm ONLY Tuesday, August 4, 6:07pm: A moment in Beirut’s already…
Cairo 678 Mar. 3–10 Available March 3 at 10:00 am—March 10 at 11:59 pm ONLY Mohamed Diab’s Cairo 678 is a powerful portrait of…
El Gusto Mar. 3–10 Available March 3 at 10:00 am—March 10 at 11:59 pm ONLY After a chance encounter with an aged furniture maker…
Horses of God Mar. 3–10 Available March 3 at 10:00 am—March 10 at 11:59 pm ONLY Ten year-old Yachine and his 13-year-old brother Hamid live…
Omar Mar. 3–10 Available March 3 at 10:00 am—March 10 at 11:59 pm ONLY Omar is accustomed to dodging surveillance bullets to cross…
Zero Mar. 3–10 Due to extenuating circumstances, this film is no longer available in this year’s series. Amin Bertale, alias “Zero,” is a 30-something police officer walking the streets of Casablanca. He is overwhelmed by a sense…
Adios Carmen Mar. 3–10 Available March 3 at 10:00 am—March 10 at 11:59 pm ONLY It’s 1975. Ten-year-old Amar lives in a village in…

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