Tag Archive for Arab British Centre

Reimagining Arab Cinema

Omar Kholeif is an Egyptian-born, UK-based writer, curator and producer. His current project, “Safar: A Journey Through Popular Arab Cinema” is running from 21 – 27 September at the Institute for Contemporary Arts in London.

How did the idea for Safar come about and how did you get involved in it?

I was approached by the Arab British Centre a year and a half ago. We sat down and talked about what it was that we wanted to bring to London and British audiences in order to make a real statement about contemporary Arab cinema. Through lots of discussion and research it transpired that a lot of the Arab cinema that we were receiving in the UK was anchored around very particular social and political concerns and wasn’t necessarily representative of Arab cultural production or the films that were popular locally. What you get with Safar is an experience that we believe is much more representative, but also much more enjoyable. It actually contradicts the confines of what you expect world cinema to be. Traditionally, it’s something that aspires to a high arts concern, but these films are much more dialogue-based, comedic and melodramatic. They’re also epic and enthralling in different ways and actually reveal quite political and dissident things about local culture, by doing it through a form that’s accessible to a broader audience.

Do you think that even though historically Arab cinema hasn’t been shown much in the UK, that is something that’s set to change? Is Arab film coming more to the forefront of cinema in the UK today?

I think so. We’re building audiences slowly, but I think that it can be a red herring and we have to be cautious. What you find is that a lot of events are one-offs, when what you really need is someone to develop an infrastructure in their regular programme so audiences know that this isn’t just some fleeting fad, but actually a cultural form that’s important.

Keep Reading at New Statesman

A Journey Through Popular Arab Cinema

The Arab British Centre, in partnership with the ICA and Dubai International Film Festival, presents Safar, the most ambitious programme of popular Arab film ever seen in the UK.

A truly original programme for British cinema-goers, this week-long series of classic and contemporary cinema takes audiences on a journey of gripping dramas, subversive comedies and exaggerated melodramas, taking in an array of re-mastered cinematic masterpieces and new releases.

With this programme, we explore a fifty-year period of filmmaking that demonstrates the diversity and complexity of Arab cinema. Focusing on Egyptian cultural production (as the historical epicentre of Arab cinema), the programme also includes recent popular hits from Lebanon and Jordan.

The series avoids presenting cultural stereotypes of the conflicted present without shying away from controversy. Instead, Safar: A Journey Through Popular Arab Cinema invites audiences to experience local popular culture and debate film’s effectiveness in conveying social histories.

Including literary adaptations such as The Yacoubian Building and box office smash-hits such as Bosta, as well as films starring cinematic icons such as Adel Imam, a pre-Lawrence of Arabia Omar Sharif, and contemporary stars Nadine Labaki and Khaled Abol Naga.
Book Tickets now on the ICA Website HERE