Tis the season for Arab film! Or rather, tis the season for Arab film festivals. In an unprecedented gesture of foresight and cooperation, four Arab nations organized their respective international film festivals to coincide during the months November and December. If ever there was a time to take the Marrakesh-Cairo-Damascus-Dubai film festival express, this is it!
Traveling from West to East:
The Marrakesh International Film Festival, December 1-9
About 15% of the program tends to be Arab films with a particular focus on North African productions.
The Cairo International Film Festival, November 28th - December 8th
Although this festival is the oldest in the Middle East, this is the first year they're holding a film market. Of their more interesting programs, this year there will be, "Arabs in World Cinema," "2nd Panorama of Lebanese Cinema," and "New Arab Cinema 2005-2006."
The Damascus International Film Festival, November
This is the website from last year, because they don't have the new one up yet. I feel confident in saying that this is not exactly a destination festival as most of the films are from 2004. That said, if you happen to be chillin' in the very cool city that is Damascus, it's probably interesting to see some of the new Syrian shorts.
The Dubai International Film Festival, December 10th-17th
Last but not least, the rising star of all International Film Festivals! (At least according to me.) For the last few years Dubai has been throwing loads of money into their festival with the hopes that the West would notice that there's such a thing as Arab Cinema. Guess what guys? We noticed! With loads of fancy Hollywood/Bollywood/Egyptian film stars and int'l premieres, not to mention being the number one place to see new Arab films, this would be the jewel in the crown of this 'festival vacation.' Oh, did I mention there's an indoor ski slope in Dubai?