Ghada Alatrash and Aya Mhana are two Syrian women representing Syria through their translated Arabic poetry and Syrian music. They speak and sing their beloved homeland in Arabic and English, and they engage art as a language to narrate themes of love, passion, pain, loss, resilience and hope for their beloved country.
Ghada Alatrash is a Syrian-Canadian doctoral candidate, sessional instructor and research assistant in Educational Research at the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. Her current research speaks to the lived experience of the Syrian Diaspora in Canada. She is the author of Stripped to the Bone: Portraits of Syrian Women and she has recently been invited to speak on her book as a TEDx speaker. She has an MA in English Literature from the University of Oklahoma. She has also been profiled in several media including CBC, PBS, BBC, Aljazeera,and Gulf News, among others.
Aya Mhana is a Syrian Oud player, singer, musician, composer and songwriter. Aya also worked as an elementary school teacher in Sweida, Syria. She volunteered for a number of years for the Red Crescent in Syria during the recent years of the tragic Syrian war. She has been hosted on different media outlets including CBC, Calgary Arabia, CJSW’s People’s Music.
My Enemy, My Brother’ is a feature length documentary about the real-life story of two former enemies from the Iran-Iraq war who become blood brothers for life. Meeting in Vancouver 30 years after Zahed, an Iranian child soldier saves Najah, a wounded Iraqi soldier’s life, they are now about to embark on an emotional journey back to Iran and Iraq for the first time in 20 years. Their journey takes them into the heart of present-day conflicts in a region ravaged by war and ISIS. Their quest is a surprising affirmation of redemption and humanity.
In today’s Beirut, an insult blown out of proportions finds Toni, a Lebanese Christian, and Yasser, a Palestinian refugee, in court. From secret wounds to traumatic revelations, the media circus surrounding the case puts Lebanon through a social explosion, forcing Toni and Yasser to reconsider their lives and prejudices.
Therese, the mayor’s wife in a Lebanese village, joyfully prepares for an overnight visit of her daughter’s suitor and his parents. She excitedly shares the happy news of the engagement with pictures of her beloved brother who was killed by a Syrian bomb 20 years ago and is still bizarrely present in every corner of her house.
Only when the long-awaited guests are at her doorstep, she discovers they are Syrian; this engagement will only happen over Therese’s dead body!
Eccomi … Eccoti unfolds as a virtual road trip navigating between Italy and Lebanon. Conditioned to live in a long-distance relationship with his partner because of strict European visa regulations, the director patches together the moments shared together in an attempt to create a possible day-to-day reality for their couple.
With a lyrical, ambient soundscape set atop a dreamy, atmospheric visual style that oscillates between still photography and moving images, the film explores what it means to be gay in contemporary Beirut and the aches of psychic pain that blocks one from reaching a sense of “complete-ness” with one’s self. Does such in-completeness have to do, in particular, with being gay? Or is it related to a grander malaise endemic to the human condition?
“Sheikh Jackson,” Egypt’s official Oscar entry for 2018, is an offbeat, often affecting and thoughtful drama about conservative imam Sheikh Khaled Hani (Ahmad Elfishawy), whose strict, devout life turns upside down upon the death of his onetime idol, Michael Jackson.
But it’s the cleric’s King of Pop-inspired crisis of faith and the ways it’s manifested and ultimately assuaged that gives the film its unique depth. To that end, Salama gently, effectively examines the role religion can play in one’s life and outlook versus how a secular, more free-thinking existence may offer greater latitude but not always better or happier choices.
That the movie features the trappings and vibe of Michael Jackson but none of his actual music may feel like a bit of a cheat. Still, the filmmaker employs some clever dream and fantasy bits, as well as a Jackson lookalike (Carlo Riley), that quirkily help channel the superstar and his work.
Mahmoud’s life is a ‘photocopy’ of millions of others. He worked as a data-entry typist in the same government job, never married, he lives a traditional life. When he settles for early retirement, he buys a nearby Storefront and sets up: “Mahmoud’s photocopy.” Here, he makes photocopies and types up documents. One day, a student asks him to type up a report on the extinction of dinosaurs. Mahmoud can’t help but begin to see some strange parallels with the state of his own life. Driven by a desire to change the depressing reality that his own lifestyle is becoming extinct, he starts a journey that leads him to revolt against his traditional life.
Nedjma, a young investigative journalist for an Algerian daily, is spurred to action by the ongoing instrumentalisation of the concept of paradise in extremist propaganda and calls to djihad by Middle Eastern Salafist preachers ever-present on the Internet. She decides to investigate the place of paradise in the Muslim imagination. Assisted by Mustapha, her colleague, she criss-crosses Algeria in search of a panoply of opinions, young and old, male and female, intellectual and street-smart.
Time: 6:30 pm
HYMN brings to their audiences traditional melodies from all around the world with a modern composition.
Twelve resilient, determined and articulate women from disparate walks of life: lawyers, artists, housewives, activists, architects, and politicians stitch together the story of their homeland, of their dispossession, and of their unwavering determination that justice will prevail.
Through their stories, the individual weaves into the collective, yet remaining distinctly personal. Twelve women, twelve life-spans and stories from Palestine; a land whose position was fixed on the map of the world, but is now embroidered on its face.
Featuring Skype discussion with producer Muna Khalidi