Mahmoud Darwish in "Fi Hadrat al-Ghiyab"

Michael Teague

For many people in the Middle East, the supplementary material of this year’s selection of Ramadan television drama may be totally novel.  For instance, the trial of Hosni Mubarak (in the countries where it will be allowed to air) could prove a spectacular introduction to reality TV, which continues to hypnotize so many Westerners.  Also scheduled to air is a new biopic about the iconic Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.  Fi Hadrat al Ghiyab (“In the Presence of the Absent”), respectively written and directed by the well-known Hassan Yousif and Najdat Anzour, has ignited a fairly acrimonious controversy in the Arab press.

Plot Twist Ties up Distribution of Controversial Arab “Life Smuggling” Film

Naomi Pham

Egyptian filmmaker Mohamed Diab’s 2019 “Amira” faced a storm of social media backlash following accusations that the film belittles the Palestinian struggle. Diab — director of the well-received “Cairo 678” (2010) and “Clash” (2016) — has pulled the film from any future screenings, including Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival. This decision comes after Jordan’s Royal Film Commission ultimately withdrew “Amira” as its entry as the Oscar’s 2022 Best Foreign Film.

Remembering Lokman Slim (1962-2021)

Lebanese publisher, filmmaker, and activist Lokman Slim, an outspoken critic of Hezbollah, was murdered on Feb. 4, 2021 while on his way home from southern Lebanon. In 2017, Al Jadid published a review of his award-winning film “Tadmor” (Icarus Films, 2016), co-directed with his wife, Monika Borgmann. “Ghosts of the past come in many forms.

Film “1982” Glimpses into Emotional Costs for Innocents Caught in Lebanese War

Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019, director Oualid Mouaness’ contemplative drama film “1982” explores the anxiety of war for those who never wished to take part in it. For the teachers and students at a private school in East Beirut, what should have been a “normal” last day of classes becomes anything but, as the distant sounds of bombing come closer and closer. It is 1982, and Beirut, divided between Muslims on the west and Christians on the east, teeters on the cusp of invasion as Israel and Syria fight overhead.

Play Reveals Wounds of Palestinian Occupation

Bobby Gulshan

An event hosted by the Voices from the Holy Land Film Series will focus its next Online Discussion Salon on director Pamela Nice’s "It’s What We Do: A Play About the Occupation" on June 14, 2020 at 2 pm EST. The event will feature guest speaker Yonatan Shapira, a former IDF helicopter pilot, who has been involved in speaking out against the abuses of the IDF since his service. Please register for the one-hour discussion, which will be in a Zoom format, at this link. Organizers are asking all registrants to view a 55-minute video beforehand. You can access it at

Earlier this year, the Israeli Knesset passed a law barring “Breaking the Silence” from presenting in schools, universities, or any other non-profit institutions. The initiative to enforce a ban on the group came from Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who accused “Breaking the Silence” of denigrating the reputation of the Israeli Defense Force in the eyes of Israeli youth.



‘Out on the Burning Sands’
Al Jadid Staff

Despite being a 20-year-old film, “Hollywood Harems,” directed by Tania Kamal-Eldin, discusses myths and fantasies of Orientalism and Arab women that still resonate today. The documentary takes a close look at several films, from “The Sheik” (1921) to “The Mummy” (1932), and others spanning between the 1930s and 1960s, with a sharp focus on the portrayal of women -- from fictionalized harems and the voyeuristic “intruder’s gaze” of men, to the depiction of their exploiters as Arab men and saviors as white men.


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