DIFF has announced 12 Muhr Documentaries, which examine subjects such as memory, identity and war.
DIFF's Arab Programme Consultant Erfan Rashid said: 'The Muhr Documentaries let viewers feel the pulse of the Arab world. The films offer hard-hitting commentary on pressing issues, like the recent war on Lebanon; histories that might otherwise be forgotten, like Moroccan 'comfort women', and psychological issues like memory and exile that are difficult to put in words, let alone in images. For topical cinema, these films cannot be beat.'
Two stories of family life in the midst of chaos prove that laughter and love can flourish in the most unlikely locations:
· Kasim Abid 's Life After The Fall (Al Hayat Baad Al Suqoot) is a documentary following an Iraqi family's life since the fall of Saddam's regime.
· Marina Of The Zabbaleen from Engi Wassef, presents an imaginary world of a 11-year old girl who lives in Zabbaleen village.
The section also offers two very different but personal accounts of war:
· After The War (Apres La Guerre, C'Est Toujours La Guerre) is a unique perspective on the Lebanese war of 2006 by director Samir Abdallah.
· One Man Village (Samaan Bildayaa) , by the first-time Lebanese director, Simon El Habre is a documentary on the life of his elderly uncle, the only remaining inhabitant of a small village outside Beirut.
Three films excavate turbulent pasts that continue to affect the present:
· China Is Still Far (La Chine Est Encore Loin) , by director Malek Bensmail, is a nostalgic piece delving into the turbulent events of the Algerian battle for independence in the 1960s.
· Our Forbidden Places (Nos Lieux Interdits) , by Leila Kilani, follows the lives of four families making their way through Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation, set up to investigate state-sponsored disappearances.
· Memory Of The Cactus: A Story Of Three Palestinian Villages (Thakirat Al Sabbar: Hikayat Thalath Qura Falasteenia) by Hanna Musleh, uses a cactus as a metaphor for collective memory, whilst addressing Palestinian villages' story of destruction.
A fascinating window into society of two Middle Eastern countries is offered:
· Two Cities And A Prison (Madeenatain Wa Sijn), from Saudade Kaadan, follows an interactive theatre group's 2008 Syrian tour, where they stimulate audience discussion on taboo issues.
· In These Hands (Hazihi Al Ayadi), the director Hakim Belabbes addresses the issue of ' the old versus the new' in modern Moroccan society.
Photography and its impact on story-telling and history are explored in:
· Open Shutters Iraq , from Maysoon Pachachi, is about a group of Iraqi women who set out to chronicle their lives through photography.
· To My Father (Ila Aby) by Abdelsalam Shehada's is an evocative retrospective of the golden age of traditional photography.
The vagaries of culture, memory and identity across the geographical boundaries of exile are examined in:
· Hey! Don't Forget The Cumin (He! N'Oublie Pas Le Cumin) by the Syrian filmmaker Hala Al Abdalla is a surrealist account of exiled Syrians reminiscing about their homeland.
· Sa mia , by Ammar Al Beik, is a dream-like, impressionistic patchwork of memories about Palestine of the years past.
Two of the films deal with gender in the context of culture, history and politics:
· I Loved So Much (J'Ai Tant Aime), by Dalila Ennadre, is a story about women forced into brothels by French and Moroccan soldiers, during the Indo-China wars.
· Private File (Malaf Khas) by the Egyptian director Saad Hendawy is a frank examination of social and gender issues in modern-day Egypt.
All Muhr Awards screenings will take place between December 11 to 18, 2008. Muhr Awards winners will be shown on December 19 and 20 at Cinestar Mall of the Emirates and the Grand Cinemas at Festival City.