Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival to include Egyptian film El-Shooq

Ahram Online, Saturday 7 Jul 2012

Egyptian film, El-Shooq, will see its UK premiere at the Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival, open now until 15 July

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival

The Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival (LAAF) - currently underway until 15 July - promises to be bigger this year than ever before.

The only festival of its kind in the UK, it presents Liverpool’s audience a programme packed with a variety of activities and art forms from across the Arab world: music, dance, visual arts exhibitions, stand-up comedians, symposiums, debates, talks, workshops, film, exhibitions, poetry and regional food – with many free events. The rich programme brings together artists from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Iraq, Egypt, etc.

According to the festival’s press release: "The Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival was founded in 1998 by Liverpool Arabic Centre and the Bluecoat to provide Arabic arts and culture in Liverpool. The first festival took place in 2002 and it has run annually since that date as a celebratory event raising awareness and promoting an understanding and appreciation of Arabic culture for both Arab and non-Arab audiences in Liverpool and beyond."

The festival's executive director, Razanne Carmey says: "This year’s festival looks ‘Behind the News’ of political change in the Arab world. Yes; the riots and demonstrations, yes; the calls for dictators to ‘Leave! Leave! Leave!’ But who are the people on the streets when they go home? We want to know the truth behind the news; the life behind the news and the loves, tears and laughter of the newsmakers.”

Lebanese composer, singer and oud player, Marcel Khalife, is the festival’s patron. He believes that the events included in this year’s festival reflect "the quality and diversity of arts, education and sheer enjoyment we have come to connect with the only festival of its kind in the UK." He continues by adding that the festival is "a celebration of the ongoing cultural expression within the Arab world."

One of a number of film screenings includes the UK-premiere on Wednesday, 11 July of El Shooq (Lust), by Khaled El-Hagar, winner of the Golden Pyramid Award for Best Film at Cairo's International Film Festival 2010. The film was nominated by Egypt’s former culture minister Emad Abou-Ghazi to represent Egypt in the foreign films section at the Oscars, but it did not make the final shortlist.

Waleed Marzouk, Ahram Online’s film critic, writes about Shooq in his review titled El Shooq: A story of unrelenting darkness.

Another film screened about Egypt during the Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival is Beit Sha’ar (Nomad’s Home), by Iman Kamel, which documented the filmmaker's journey to the militarised Sinai Peninsula and an encounter with Bedouins.

Other films screened are by Tunisian, Palestinian, Libyan and other filmmakers from the Arab region.

The festival began on 6 July and will continue until 15 July. For more details, click here.

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