Coming back for a third time, the Amman International Film Festival is bringing more Arab voices to the limelight. Running from July 21 until 27 2022, this year’s film selections tackle everything from a group of eccentric Jordanian sisters searching for their missing father to a theatre play taking place in a Lebanese prison.
Held in the Abdali Boulevard District of Amman, the festival has seen some notable guests and great events. During opening night, Jordan’s Prince Ali and Princess Reem Ali made an appearance as well as Al Rawabi’s School for Girls Noor Taher and Jordan’s Minister of Tourism, Nayef Al-Fayez. Hosted by Jordanian singer, Zain Awad, some of the festival’s entertainment included a piano performance by the host herself as well as a rendition of Bella Ciao by a choir. During the third day, many workshops were held with prominent guests from the film industry.
A total of 46 films were screened in the festival. To celebrate the festivities, the Scoop Team handpicked 8 films representing one of eight countries across the MENA region from Morocco and Algeria to Iraq and Palestine:
1. A Second Life (Tunisia)
Screening Dates: 23 and 26 July
Tunisia’s Anis Lassoued’s first feature length film is a drama depicting a poor young man called Gadeha who receives financial help from a couple, Malika and Moez, after suffering injuries from a car accident. The film documents his journey after literally getting a second chance at life.
2. Daughters of Abdulrahman (Jordan)
Screening Dates: 24 and 25 July
Craving a pinch of family drama? With Zain Abu Hamdan’s first feature length film, we go on a journey with four sisters as they attempt to find their father who suddenly went missing. The trip unpacks the lives of each sister, bringing many secrets and past dilemmas to the surface.
3. The Blue Inmates (Lebanon)
Screening Dates: 23rd and 24th July
Looking at a prison through a new, fresh lens, Zeina Daccache’s documentary, The Blue Inmates, places its focus on mental illness within the walls of a Lebanese prison. A group of inmates decide to stage a play about the other inmates in the prison who suffer from mental illness. This performance acts to showcase the common global unfair sentencing of inmates with mental illness who instead should be receiving treatment or psychological care.
Screening Dates: 21 and 22 July
Actresses Bassant Ahmed and Basmala Elghaeish make their acting debut with Ayten Ami’s Souad, a drama that explores the life of a 19 year old, Souad, in Zagazig, a city in the Nile Delta. She lives two separate lives, one as a conservative veiled daughter to a traditional family and the other, as a woman exploring her sexuality through online dating. When the two world converge, her life begins to take on a new reality.
5. Suspended Wives (Morocco)
Screening Dates: 26 and 27 July
Adding a new term to the MENA region’s vernacular, Suspended Wives refers to women who are stranded by their husbands and so are in a limbo as they are considered neither married nor divorced. In Merième Addou’s documentary, we follow three women, Ghita, Latifa and Saadia as they navigate complicated and long divorce procedures to eventually earn their freedom.
6. Soula (Algeria)
Screening Dates: 21 and 26 July
Salah Issaad’s riveting drama is based on real events. Its main protagonist, Soula is alienated by her family. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she finds herself on a 14 hour road trip, hopping from car to car, meeting people along the way. Some trustworthy, others not so much. The whole journey is akin to an endless rollercoaster with Soula’s only concern being the safety of her daughter.
7. Our River… Our Sky (Iraq)
Screening Dates: 22 and 23 July
A look into Baghdad, through one of its neighborhoods. Maysoon Pachachi’s first feature film is a drama that follows the lives of Sara, a single mother and her neighbors as they navigate their violence stricken city plagued by nightly curfews. They attempt to find some sense of hope amongst the darkness of their current lives.
8. Farha (Jordan)
Screening Dates: 23 and 24 July
Darin J. Sallam’s debut feature film is a drama that explores the tumultuous life of its main protagonist, Farah. Set in 1948, Farah’s only dream is to pursue her education yet when that dream almost became a reality, violence struck in Palestine. To protect his daughter, Farah’s father locked her in a confined space used for food storage. Within that dark hole, Farah underwent a dramatic experience that changes her life.