Still from "Habibi" directed by Susan Youssef from Palestine
According to the festival organisers, "Arab Film Festival Australia aims to showcase stories from Arabic-speaking peoples to diverse Australian audiences through film, reflecting the complexity and diversity of Arab experiences. A primary aim is to address the (mis)representations of Arab peoples and cultures by providing critical spaces to present alternative representations of Arab subjects, cultures and narratives."
The festival was first launched in 2001 and has gained a large audience and the support of many partners. So far, dozens of filmmakers from Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, Jordan, the UAE, Kuwait, Canada, the UK, the US, Australia, France, Sweden and Japan — all reflecting on the Arab region — presented their works to over 18,000 attendees and followers of Arab cinema.
The organisers state on the festival's website that "a key objective of the Arab Film Festival is to engage Australian audiences in a more complex understanding of the diversity of Arab cultures, histories and stories. A core goal of the Festival is also to provide a platform for emerging, developing and established Arab-Australian filmmakers to show their screen work to broad audiences in New South Wales and beyond."
This year, Arab films will be screened in three Australian cities: Sydney, between 28 June and 1 July; Melbourne between 6 and 8 July; and Canberra, between 12 and 15 July.
The programme will feature Australian and internationally produced films, and local and international Arab filmmakers. The festival will also include a colloquium on Arab women fimlmmakers and their work.
The opening movie to be screened in Sydney will be Habibi directed by Susan Youssef (Palestine). The opening evening will also include an audience with Youssef as well as a performance by the Andalusian Arabic Choir.