Middle East film festival opens on Oct. 30

A Separation

Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation” won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film earlier this year. The film screens on Oct. 30 in Claudia Cohen Hall.

Like foreign films? Want to learn more about modern Middle East cultures? You can do both at Penn’s New Middle East Cinema film festival, running Oct. 30-Nov. 3 at Claudia Cohen Hall and College Hall.

The four-day fest will showcase six recently released feature films from Iran, Israel, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt. A Penn faculty member will also lead a discussion about each movie.  

The festival will open with “A Separation,” an Iranian film that won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film earlier this year. The film will be shown on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 5 p.m. in 402 Claudia Cohen Hall. Firoozeh Kashani Sabet, the Robert I. Williams Term Professor in the Department of History and director of the Middle East Center, will discuss the film.

“‘A Separation’ depicts the intricacies of family life in Iran as a married couple attempts to work out personal differences,” Sabet says. “The film grapples with universal themes such as sickness and filial duty, and in the process, it raises ethical questions about truth and deception.”

When “A Separation” won the Oscar this past February, it beat out the Israeli film “Footnote,” winner of Israel’s version of the Oscar in 2011. “Footnote” will be shown on Thursday, Nov. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in 200 College Hall. The film will be presented by Nili Gold, an associate professor of modern Hebrew literature in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and David Stern, the Moritz and Josephine Berg Professor of Classical Hebrew Literature.

Footnote

Joseph Cedar’s “Footnote” won the Best Film Award at the 2011 Ophir Awards, also known as the Israeli Oscars. The film screens on Nov. 1 in College Hall.

Eve Troutt Powell, an associate professor in the Department of History, will lead a discussion about the Iraqi film “Red Heart” on Friday, Nov. 2, at 5:30 p.m. in 200 College Hall. Later that evening, Meta Mazaj, a senior lecturer in the Cinema Studies Program, will present renowned Lebanese director/actor Nadine Labaki’s 2011 film, “Where Do We Go Now” at 8:30 p.m. in 200 College Hall.

“The film is set in a remote Middle East village where Christians and Muslims co-exist in a fragile peace, and uses a unique blend of satire, comedy, romance, and music to make an important political statement about national identity and women’s agency,” Mazaj says.

The Turkish film “Beyond” and the Egyptian film “Microphone” close out the festival on Saturday, Nov. 3. Mehmet Darakçıoğlu, associate director of the Middle East Center, will present “Beyond” at 5:30 p.m.; Blake Atwood, a lecturer in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, will discuss “Microphone” at 8:30 p.m. Both films screen in 200 College Hall.

The New Middle East Cinema film festival is presented by Penn’s Cinema Studies Program, Jewish Studies Program, Middle East Center, and Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, in collaboration with the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival.

Originally published on October 25, 2012