MIZNA's 7th Twin Cities Arab Film Festival

November 10–13 

At the historic Heights Theatre
3951 Central Ave NE | Columbia Heights | Minnesota | 55421
Tickets: $10 general admission, $8 students
Festival passes: $50 at the door, $40 in advance

Rami Azzazi, Film Festival Curator
Marya Morstad, Film Festival Director Full details and complete schedule at:
Award-winning films originating in Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine and the United Arab Emirates among many others, highlight the seventh edition of Mizna’s Twin Cities Arab Film Festival.

Join us for a wide-ranging and thought-provoking selection of feature-length and short films made by and about Arabs and Arab Americans.

We are currently in the middle of a 10-day IndieGoGo fundraising campaign to close our festival’s budget gap. The campaign wraps up on October 28. Read about the campaign, the opportunity to double your dollars, and the benefits at different levels of giving, like tickets to the Fête, here.

This year’s festival opens with the Egyptian film 18 Days. A group of ten directors agreed to act quickly to shoot, with no budget and on a voluntary basis, ten short films about the Egyptian Revolution and the 18 days in Tahrir Square, creating ten stories they have experienced, heard, or imagined. There will be a panel discussion prior to the screening on the theme of the Arab revolutions and uprisings.

Other film highlights in the festival line-up include:

Hawi (The Juggler), is the third feature by Egyptian director Ibrahim El-Batout, which won the Best Arab Film at the 2010 Doha TriBeCa Film Festival. Shot in Alexandria, the film is an organic study of a city populated by disparate, often desperate characters, and a closer view of the so-called reality and lives of everyday people. El-Batout is credited with elevating independent cinema in Egypt to a new level.

City of Life, shot in Dubai, is an urban drama that tracks the various intersections of a multi-ethnic cast, examining how random interactions and their consequences can irrevocably impact another’s life. As the name suggests, City of Life’s inordinately humane kaleidoscope of converging experiences introduces a city that is in itself a living pulsating character. Directed by Ali F. Mostafa, this is the first major narrative feature to come out of the United Arab Emirates.

Teta, Alf Marra (Grandma, a Thousand Times) by Lebanese director Mahmoud Kabour, is a poetic documentary about the filmmaker’s feisty Beiruti grandmother. The film employs magical realism to convey the story, which won Best Film at The London International Documentary Film Festival and which was inspired by a piece by Kaabour originally published in Mizna’s literary journal, Mizna: Prose, Poetry and Art Exploring Arab America.

Algeria, Images of a Fight by Jerome Laffont, is a French documentary that profiles René Vautier—considered an anti-colonialist filmmaker and one of the most censored directors of his time—about his coverage of the Algerian War of Independence in the 1960s.

Stray Bullet, by Lebanese director Georges Hachem, won first prize at the Dubai International Film Festival. The film, set shortly after the start of Lebanon’s 1975–1990 civil war, tells the story of a young woman who is torn between a fiancé chosen by her family and a former lover who suddenly reappears in her life. The film stars Lebanese-Canadian Nadine Labaki, director of the highly acclaimed 2007 production, Caramel and more recently,Where Do We Go Now?, which was chosen earlier this month as Lebanon’s 2011 entry in the Best Foreign Language film category for the Academy Awards and recently won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The Koran: Back to the Origins of the Book, by Bruno Ulmer, is an enlightening documentary about the origins of the Koran, which according to Muslim tradition, has remained static and unchanged since its revelation to the prophet Mohammed between 610 and 632 CE in Mecca and Medina. However, recent discoveries of the oldest known Koranic manuscripts, dating from around 680, indicate that the Koran may have a more complicated history.

The festival also features local entries, such as Iraqi-American Tarik Rasouli’s Iraq, Finally, a filmic diary of his first ever visit to his parents’ homeland, and Triumph67, a collaboration between a Jewish director, Dan Tanz and a Palestinian actor/producer, Mohannad Ghawanmeh. Following the sudden death of his brother, a Palestinian-American man must grapple with the past, the present, and the cost of his own secrets from a long ago summer.Triumph67 won Honorable Mention at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival.

The Twin Cities Arab Film Festival closes with the Minnesota premiere of Palestinian director Elia Suleiman’s The Time That Remains, an examination of the creation of the state of Israel from its creation in 1948 to the present day. An official selection at The Cannes Film Festival in 2010, this semi-autobiographical drama is written and directed by and stars Suleiman, known for his 2002 film, Divine Intervention, which screened at Mizna’s first Arab Film Festival in 2003.

Lana Barkawi, Mizna’s Executive and Artistic Director states

It’s wonderful to see how our festival has taken shape and grown over the years. This year’s team, Rami Azzazi, Marya Morstad and the festival committee, have put together an exciting and timely selection of films—whether romantic, political or revolutionary—always reflecting the humanity of our community.