Announcements

Rough Year: COVID

Covid has been a big challenge to the cinema industry around the world. We at the Calgary Arab Arts & Culture Society struggle in 2020 with securing good artsy productions, enduring partnerships, limited cinema seating capacities, new online screening platforms, and of course funding.

However, we endured and persisted!

We succeeded with our 8th festival, and added an online screening component that got us new audience base outside of Calgary.

But hearing about similar struggles at the end of like-minded partners, we started thinking about changes in 2021 as we anticipated that the covid era was to endure.

Re-Structuring & Re-Focus

The ideas we had revolved around extending our partnerships with other bigger organizations to engage new audience and to learn new techniques of survival. The Calgary International Film Festival, CIFF, was at the forefront of our partners with whom we had previous community partnerships over the past years.

For this year, 2021, we were the community partner with CIFF on two very influential movies that would’ve fit in our usual offerings:

In addition, we have been in talks with other community organizations both in Calgary and surrounding cities to follow suit and have them play the following titles:

Feathers

Peace by Chocolate

In addition, we have been in talks with other community organizations both in Calgary and surrounding cities to follow suit and have them play the following titles:

Une Histoire D’amour Et De Desir

Follows Ahmed, an 18-year old, French of Algerian origin, who meets Farah, a young Tunisian girl. He discovers a collection of sensual and erotic Arab literature and falls in love with Farah and he tries to resist the desire.

Bilal: A New Bread of Hero

Over 1,000 years ago, a boy with dreams of being a great warrior and his sister are abducted and taken to a faraway land. Growing up in a world of greed and injustice, he finds the courage to make a change.

Costa Brava

A couple decide to leave the toxic pollution of their home city of Beirut, hoping to build a utopian existence in a pristine home in the mountains.

Plan

So far, we were successful on the front of CIFF .. the films were success and CAACS was able to market them via our partner, REDFM Calgary Arabia. Our CAACS board member and radio host, Noha Mohamed, was able to direct our audience to the partnership with CIFF through which our friends can watch the offerings.

We realized the big buzz around the film, Feathers, once it was screened at the Gouna Film Festival. The politically charged atmosphere surrounding screening the award-winning film in Egypt made it clear that the controversy will continue in Calgary, especially that it won the Best Picture Award.

Earlier, the Calgary Arab Arts & Culture Society sponsored the attendance of Noha Mohamed to the Festival De Cannes. There, Noha had an exclusive interview with Omar Zoheiry, the Director of Feathers.

Execution

In less than a week, CAACS was able to secure the screening rights of Feathers and booked our partners, The Globe, on November 19.

We decided that a politically charged debate after the Award Winning film, should be complimented by a light movie, preferably a commercial comedy.

This invited a light option that was recently released in Egypt, Mama Hamel (Arabic for mom in pregnant)

Once we secured the double feature, we started advertising, and hope it can be a night to remember.

Future Projects

CAACS is currently in talks with filmmakers across the nation to produce something about Arab roots in Canada. Simultaneously, CAACS is also in talks with the national standup comedy HQ to renew cooperation with hopes of bringing Arab standup comedians to the stage of the YukYuks.

Palestinian films and Canadian solidarity: can watching help?

Webinar at 6 pm MT, Thursday, Nov 18, 2021
Film available for viewing, November 11 to 18

In the wide selection of Palestinian films which Netflix recently began to stream, some focused on Palestinian refugees outside Occupied Palestine. The situation for these refugees usually leaves viewers with as many questions as answers. When Canadians do watch, can viewing lead to deeper awareness? Is it too hopeful to think these stories might move viewers to more active forms of support? These are some of the questions under consideration in CEPAL’s first “Dialogue with the Diaspora” webinar. For those who want to know more and go deeper, this event will introduce you to a trio of speakers with long-term and varied experience in combining film and activism:

Robert Allison, Communications Director, Hamilton Voices of Palestine Film Screenings
Dania Majid, Programmer and Media Relations, Toronto Palestine Film Festival
Thomas Morgan, Producer-director of Soufra, and other films
Henry Zaccak, Moderator, President, Canadian-Palestinian Education Exchange

Soufra

After registering, you will receive a link to view the film Soufra on-line in the week prior to the webinar (film running time: 70 minutes.)

Soufra follows a group of women entrepreneurs at Burj al Barajneh camp in south Beirut. In the face of huge obstacles, they show unrelenting belief in each other, and their small business begins to take root. But the real test comes next, when they attempt to add on a food truck service which could carry business outside of their camp. 
There is a free viewing option, thanks to the generous sponsorship of PSN Edmonton and Just Peace Advocates.

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