The 2022 edition of the SAFAR Film Festival marks an important milestone for the much anticipated London event. In fact, to celebrate ten years since its inception, SAFAR will also screen Arab titles around the UK, in cities that include Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Hull and a few others. And most titles will also be available to stream online, a practice started during the pandemic edition of the festival.
SAFAR used to be held every two years but the last edition of the festival in 2021 was so successful, even if it was held in the midst of a worldwide health crisis, that its organizers at the Arab British Centre have decided to keep it going as a yearly event.
SAFAR is the only festival in the UK dedicated to cinema from the Arab world and it offers audiences a unique space to explore and celebrate the diversity of the medium.
Once again, the festival's selection this year is curated by Lebanese programmer Rabih El-Khoury. Among many other duties in his native Beirut, El-Khoury also works as diversity manager for Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum Frankfurt (DFF) and is curator of Alfilm, the Arab film festival of Berlin.
'The Stories We Tell in Arab Cinema' is a programme that invites the audience to go back to the basic principle of cinema, and particularly in the MENA: storytelling. The festival features UK premieres, new releases and classics, with most screening followed by an insightful Q & A with someone from the films' delegations.
Among the highlights are Omar El Zohairy's 2021 Feathers which world premiered in Cannes Critics Week where it won the Grand Prize. A metaphorical story of a family patriarch who turns into a chicken during a magic trick gone wrong, Feathers has been screening around the festival circuit to great acclaim and is worth watching on the big screen.
On July 1st, the festival kicks off with Jordanian filmmaker Darrin J. Sallam's debut feature Farha, a young Palestinian girl's story inspired by true events and starring Ali Suliman, Ashraf Barhom, as well as Karam Taher as the titular character. Sallam will be present for the screening and will follow the film with an insightful Q & A.
MIME favourites include Mariner of the Mountain by Brazilian-Algerian filmmaker Karim Aïnouz, on his own search for roots in his paternal village in Algeria. And Life Suits Me Well, (pictured in the header) the debut feature by Al Hadi Ulal Mohand -- a Moroccan family's tale inspired by the filmmaker's own personal tragedy.
For all films and the full SAFAR Film Festival programme, check out their website.