Arab films among works focused on 'Authoritarian Regimes Under Surveillance' at Berlinale's Panorama Dokumente

Ahram Online , Wednesday 18 Jan 2017

Two Arab films are set to take part in Berlinale Film Festival's Panorama Dokumente subsection

Istiyad El Ashbah film
Istiyad El Ashbah (Ghost Hunting) (photo: still from the film)

Two Arab films will be taking part in this year’s Berlinale Panorama Dokumente subsection, set to open 10 February, in which several films revolve around theme, “Authoritarian Regimes Under Surveillance.”

The Panorama section of the Berlinale Film Festival is comprised of 18 feature films (the Main Programme), 16 documentaries from around the world (Dokumente) and 14 independent films from the United States (Special). All films in the Panorama celebrate their world or European premieres. The audience explicitly includes film buyers; thus the aim is to find the balance between artistic vision and commercial interests.

This year, two Arab films are taking part in the Dokumente subsection, both denouncing social problems and authoritarianism.

The first is the French-Algerian production Tahqiq fel djenna (Investigating Paradise), directed by Merzak Allouache. The film tackles the subject of Algerian suicide bombers and follows young Algerian journalist Nedjma and her colleague Mustapha as they attempt to research the problem. Tahqiq fel djenna provides a glimpse into this terrifying phenomenon, and insight as to how young suicide bombers are manipulated by their spiritual leaders into committing such actions.

Allouache has previously tackled the subject of terrorism in his 2012 drama film El-Taaib (The Repentant), which was screened in the Director’s Fortnight section at the Cannes Film Festival. He has also brought light to various social issues through his work, such as illegal immigration with Harragas in 2009, as well as violence and turmoil in Algiers working class districts, with Bab El-Oued (1994).

The second film is the French-Swiss-Palestinian co-production, Istiyad Ashbah (Ghost Hunting), directed by Raed Andoni. The film follows a group of ex-prisoners from Israeli detention centres shooting a film within the film, in which they re-enact some of their experiences. Istiyad Ashbah sheds light on the suffering hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have experienced.

Film director and producer Raed Andoni previously used his work to address important issues, such as in “Summer 2006, Palestine” a compilation of scenes shot by several Palestinian filmmakers, showing multiple aspects of life in the occupied Palestinian territories.

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