March 23, 2023

MIZNA presents a wide-ranging and thought-provoking selection of feature-length and short films made about Arabs and Arab Americans from March 11-13 at the Heights Theatre, 3951 Central Ave, N.E., Columbia Heights, Minn.This sixth edition of the Arab Film Festival highlights films and filmmakers of Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates and other nations of the pan-Arab world.

On Friday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m., Belgian director Nabil Ben Yadir makes his US premiere with Les Barons, a coming-of-age comedy/drama set in Brussels about Hassan, Aziz and Mounir–buddies who call themselves “The Barons,” who lead a life of pleasant apathy until life and love get in the way. It garnered the Jury Prize at the Marrakech Film Festival.Screening

Palestinian director Najwa Najjar will be present March 13th at 8:00 p.m. to introduce his first feature, Pomegranates and Myrrh, a sensuous story that overcame huge obstacles to production as her cast and crew negotiated filming across checkpoints throughout the Occupied Territories. The romantic love triangle plays out against a politically charged landscape.

Paris-based, Lebanese filmmaker Shirin Abu Shaqra offers up Hold On, My Glamorous on March 14th at 12:00 p.m. This n aesthetically evocative, poetic essay about a once famous Arab diva named Wadad, which premiered at the Dubai International Film Festival, as well as her animation short, Walking Distance.

On Saturday, March 14th at 5:00 p.m., Egyptian director Ibrahim El-Batout’s Ein Shams/Eye of the Sun. Ein Shams has become one of Cairo’s poorest and most neglected neighborhoods. Through the eyes of Shams, an 11-year-old girl, an inhabitant of this shantytown, the film captures the sadness and magic that envelopes daily life in Egypt.

Tea on the Axis of Evil will screen on Saturday, March 13 at 12:00 p.m. with director Jean Marie Offenbacher in attendance. This Syrian-American documentary from director about everyday life in Syria – in part, aiming to counter the former Bush administration’s politically motivated label of “terrorist” ascribed to the state, and by implication, to its people.

On closing night, Sunday, March 14 at 7:30 p.m., the Festival concludes with Laila’s Birthday,  a New York Times Critic’s Choice.  Only 71 minutes in length, Laila’s Birthday is a “fleet, dark urban comedy that registers outrage in glancing jabs of absurdist observation.” Written and directed by Rashid Masharawi, the movie features Mohammad Bakri who plays a judge earning a living as a driver in Ramallah.

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