(Re)Aligning Perspectives at ‘Middle East Now’

A scene from “Nine Days in Raqqa”

Until October 3, 2021: THE MIDDLE EAST NOW FESTIVAL.  Cinema La Compagnia (Via Cavour 50/r), Cinema Stensen (Via Don Minzoni 25c), MAD – Murate Art District (Piazza delle Murate near the end of Via Ghibellina), and Cartavetra Art Gallery (Via Maggio 64/r).

Each venue hosts a different event on the timely theme (Re)Aligning Perspectives that showcases an aspect of art, music, cinema, food, and talks that represent contemporary Middle Eastern culture as well as political issues with a timely focus on Afghanistan.

The Cinema La Compagnia and the Cinema Stensen host screenings of prize-winning films, with entries from Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, the UAE, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Syria, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. All showings are in the original language with English subtitles.  Starting at 8 pm on September 30 there will be aperitivo (drink & finger food) featuring authentic Afghan dishes.  The cost of €15 also entitles the guest to attend a screening before or after the buffet such as “Their Algeria” by Lina Soualem; a film that follows the director’s grandparents Aïcha and Mabrouk. After 62 years of marriage and sacrifice as immigrants, they separate which allows them to reconsider their own identity in their new lives.  Another full length feature, “9 Days In Raqqa” by Xavier de Lauzanne, captures the hardships faced by the mayor as he fights to rebuild his city in Syria.  After the food is served, one can view “Cue – Saudi Arabia’s Electronic Music.”

Middle East Now is also highlighting the independent Arab cinema of independent Lebanese directors and producers on the theme of “Filming Catastrophe.”

Through November 20, the photography show Marrakech, In Times of Stillness by Talit Rida  will be held at the MAD Walled Art District. The self-taught Middle Eastern photographer documents his hometown, Marrakech, during the quiet of the 2020 pandemic. He took it upon himself to capture and observe the changes that came with the virus, and how it affected the town’s economy and social life, especially since its main source of income is tourism. Rida’s work incorporates street photography and documentary photography, which allowed him to utilize different forms of media ranging from his smartphone to analog cameras. His goal with this exhibition is to encourage people to observe the world around them through a new perspective.

A show of drawings or illustrations titled Watermelon after Lunch can be viewed in the Cartavetra Art Gallery.  The works of the artist, Zahar Marwan, who is originally from Kuwait but now lives in New Mexico, touches on her roots from the vantage point of another continent.

There will also be a Cartoon and Social Commitment Workshop with Francesca Ceci and Alessia Puleo on October 3 at 11 am at Cinema La Compagnia. Participation is free with a reservation, but there are limited spaces. Following the workshop will be the final talk “Afghanistan, from an Emirate Republic to Domination by the Talabans,” at 11:30 am at Cinema La Compagnia. Similar to the previous event, there will be free admission. The talk will explore the future of society, culture and cinema in Afghanistan.

The complete program of films and events can be accessed here:  https://middleastnow.it/talk-2021/. Buy your tickets online to secure your seat in the hall.  (cheyenne galloway/additional reporting by rosanna cirigliano)