Doc Films is excited to present this series dedicated to the great actresses, screenwriters, and filmmakers of the Arab screen, in collaboration with the University of Chicago Center for Middle Eastern Studies. The films in this series span the dizzying geographic and cultural diversity of the Arab world, offering a window into the inexhaustible riches and welcoming warmth of this oft-misunderstood region. These deeply humane and generous films take everyday people as their central concern, vividly embodied in the vibrant personalities of actresses like Hind Rostrom of Egypt (Cairo Station) and Nadine Labaki of Lebanon (Caramel). By telling their characters' stories in their own voice, through the Arabic language and homegrown cinematic style, these films cut away the assumptions and rhetoric that too often occlude the gaze of the West. Taken together, the films in this series will serve as an important co-curricular learning experience for all levels of Arabic students. Their insistence on the normalcy of the characters that populate them is the source of their enduring grace and beauty, furnishing us with the much-needed insight that while the people they represent might seem a world apart, they are, in reality, far closer to us than we might first expect. Many of these films will be presented in brand-new, sparkling DCP restorations, enabling the inimitable spirit that animates them to shine forth in all of its glory.
(Youssef Chahine, 1958) · New restoration! Chahine's masterpiece, and possibly the most influential and best-known of all Arab movies. A psychological drama about a man with disabilities who grows fixated on a sexually liberated soda seller at the central Cairo train station, Chahine's Berlinale competition nominee was one of only two films where he directed himself in the leading role. The naturalistic dialogue, real settings, and focus on the marginalized class have propelled various critics to liken it to Italian neorealism. (Description by KVIFF)
runtime: 95m format: DCP
(Nadine Labaki, 2007) · A beauty salon in Beirut is a safe haven for five women in this Lebanese romantic comedy. Shop owner Layale (Nadine Labaki) consults her employees about a problematic affair, stylist Rima (Joanna Markouzel) does not know how to handle her attraction to a female client, and seamstress Rose abandons her own ambitions to care for her family. With the support of their friends in their familiar salon, the women search for the answers to questions of life, love, and happiness.
runtime: 95m format: DCP
(Youssef Chahine, 1957) · New restoration! One of the funniest and most beloved of all Egyptian film musicals, this is Chahine at his lightest and most entertaining. A satire of sorts about a man and woman forced into a marriage of convenience who gradually fall in love with each other, My One and Only Love is the work of a supreme entertainer. Its central pair's flowering romance is, in Ibrahim Fawal's words, "one of the loveliest and most inventive duets in the history of Egyptian cinema."
runtime: 110m format: DCP
(Youssef Chahine, 1986) · New restoration! A film about a young grandmother attempting to save her ailing grandson during the cholera outbreak of the late 1940s. Featuring the last screen performance of mega French pop star Dalida, The Sixth Day is one of Chahine's most elusive, most philosophical treatises. It combines realism, melodrama, musical elements and fantasy. (Description by KVIFF)
runtime: 105m format: DCP
(Chadi Abdel Salam, 1969) · New restoration (2009) by The Film Foundation's World Cinema Project at Cineteca di Bologna/L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in association with the Egyptian Film Center. Restoration funding provided by Armani, Cartier, Qatar Airways, Qatar Museum Authority and the Egyptian Ministry of Culture. Recently voted as the greatest Arab film ever created, director Salam's only feature film is based on a true story: in 1881, it was discovered that the Horabat tribe had been secretly raiding the tombs of the Pharaohs in Thebes. Martin Scorsese raves: "this film has an extremely unusual tone-stately, poetic, with a powerful grasp of time and the sadness it carries. The picture has a sense of history like no other. And in the end, the film is strangely, even hauntingly consoling."
runtime: 102m format: DCP
(Youssef Chahine, 1979) · New restoration! Winner of the Silver Bear at the Berlinale, this is one of Chahine's most popular movies abroad: a grand autobiographical ode to pre-WW2 cosmopolitan Alexandria centering on a young actor (standing in for Chahine) who dreams of studying acting in the United States. Whimsical, multi-layered, and utterly invigorating, this loving, crowd-pleasing panorama of Chahine's birthplace meticulously reconstructs an Alexandria known by few outside Egypt. (Description by KVIFF)
runtime: 133m format: DCP
(Raja Mari, 2002) · A Tunisian widow takes an unlikely journey of self-discovery in Raja Amari's sumptuous and sensual Satin Rouge. While investigating a suspected liaison between her headstrong teenaged daughter and a cabaret musician, Lilia becomes drawn to an exhilarating nightclub netherworld of Rubenesque belly dancers and nocturnal pleasure-seekers. In trading her shapeless housedresses for sequins and satin, she begins to emerge from her cocoon of melancholy and loneliness.
runtime: 100m format: Digital
(Youssef Chahine, 1997) · Alarmed by the rise of religious fundamentalism in Egypt in the 1990's, Chahine created an historic epic centered on the philosopher Ibn Rushd (known in the West as Averroes) and set in medieval Cordoba, Spain where--under Arab rule--a secular and multicultural society flourished. Though the film operates as a sincere and moving plea for tolerance and a timely warning against violent religious extremism, Chahine also provides plenty of spectacles, including a steamy romance and lots of song and dance.
runtime: 135m format: DCP
(Haifaa Al-Mansour, 2012) · Wadjda is a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of Riyadh. Although she lives in a conservative world, Wadjda is fun loving, entrepreneurial, and always pushing the boundaries of what she can get away with. After a fight with her friend Abdullah, a neighborhood boy she shouldn't be playing with, Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale and embarks on a journey to buy it for herself. Wadjda is a nuanced depiction of Saudi Arabian women, helmed by the country's first-ever female director.
runtime: 98m format: 35mm