Brazilian university hosts Arab cinema course and festival

Arab World Cinema Cycle was created form a course taught by professor Richard Peña of the Columbia University. Sessions run until June 2.

Thais Sousa

São Paulo – The University of São Paulo (USP) is holding its first Arab World Cinema festival. The event was created from a course on Arab cinema taught by the professor Richard Peña of the Columbia University. Started on last Monday (13), the festival gathered over 90 people in its first day. Screenings run until June 2. Aside from the movies recommended by the professor, the show is curated by the USP staff and supported by the Arab Culture Institute (ICArabe). It includes 14 movies from different countries.

The course will offer a certificate for those who have already registered, but it is still possible to watch the festival for free without having to register. Peña has already participated in events at USP before and he suggested the course on Arab cinema. “The professor spent some time in Brazil and speaks Portuguese. He is an expert in world cinema and studies and knows a lot about Arab cinema. The idea (for the festival) came up because we have a periodic schedule of thematic shows, but we had never done any on Arab cinema. We found the idea very interesting. Originally, the course has 10 classes. We have expanded the original list given by professor Richard and added [a few more movies] to the program,” explained USP Cinema program coordinator Thiago de André to ANBA.

ICArabe assisted curating and lending some titles of its own collection. “They (the USP staff) reached out to us because of our expertise. It is an important event because they’ve already have studies, are know in the department of oriental languages, literature and cinema. Richard Peña is a very prestigious, well-known figure in the Arab cinema,” said Arthur Jafet, ICArabe cultural director in a phone interview to ANBA.

The course is divided in two parts. The first half focuses on Egyptian cinema, with five classes from the growth of that country’s cinema industry to more contemporary long features, the most recent from 2016. “In a way, Egyptians dominated the Arab cinema, accounting for 90% of the cinema in the region until the 1990s,” pointed out André. The second half is composed of other five classes addressing five countries individually: Algeria, Syria, Tunisia, Palestine and Lebanon.

The classes have a brief introduction before the movie, the screening, and then a debate about the work, including a discussion of its historical, cultural and aesthetic context. The course runs during the first two weeks, but the show continues after the end of the classes.

The movies screened will be: Omar Gatlato (Algeria); C’est eux les chiens (Morocco); Love, Theft and Other Entanglements (Palestine); Bab’Aziz: The prince who contemplated his soul (Tunisia); The Silences of the Palace (Tunisia); Caramel (Lebanon) (pictured above); The Night (Syria); Chronicle of a Disappearance (Palestine); Omar (Palestine); In the Last Days of the City (Egypt); Cairo Station (Egypt); Closed Doors (Egypt); The Night of Counting the Years (Egypt).

Quick Facts

Arab World Cinema Festival

May 13 to June 2
From Monday to Friday at Cidade Universitária – Rua do Anfiteatro, 181 – Favo 4 – Butantã
On the weekends at Maria Antônia – Rua Maria Antônia, 294 – Vila Buarque
Entire program and more info here
Free admision

Translated by Guilherme Miranda

CINUSP/Press Release

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