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Middle East

Global Lens titles from the Middle East.

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DAUGHTER OF KELTOUM (La Fille de Keltoum)
Director: Mehdi Charef
Algeria   |   2001   |   106 minutes
Arabic and French, with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Synopsis A young woman, Rallia, raised in Switzerland, travels to an isolated and barren Berber settlement located in the rocky Atlas Mountains of Algeria. Rallia's journey is one of multi-tiered discovery in terms of her relationship to her extended family, traditional Berber culture, and her desperate need to locate her biological mother. Through her eyes, the viewer is immersed in a world virtually untouched by contemporary society, one that still clings to tribal mores and strict religious codes of conduct. Mehdi Charef skillfully captures the windswept vistas of a faraway mountain range with wide camera angles that frame the harsh environs and the desperate daily search for water, the responsibility of the resilient women of the Berber tribe.

About the Director Mehdi Charef was born in 1952 in Maghnia, Algeria, where he lived until his family left in the early 1960s to live in France, where he was trained as a mechanic and worked in a factory. In 1983, his first novel Le Thé au Harem d'Archimíde ("Tea in the Harem") was published. The book was soon optioned by filmmaker Constantin Costa-Gavras and made into a film, winning a Cesar, the Jean Vigo and SOS Racisme prizes, the Silver Hugo in Chicago, and the Special Jury Prize at the Madrid International Film Festival. Charef's films, La Maison d'Alexina (1999) and Pigeon vole (1996), were adapted from his novels of the same name. Medhi Charef currently lives in France and continues his work as a novelist and filmmaker.

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Featured in the Global Lens 2005 film series.


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KHORMA
Director: Jilani Saadi
Tunisia   |   2002   |   90 minutes
Arabic, with subtitles in English
$24.95
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DVDs from the Global Lens Collection can be purchased for home video use directly through our website beginning January 15, 2011 (home viewing only; no other rights, licenses or privileges are included with purchase).  If you would like to purchase or view a DVD immediately, please browse our films on Amazon or Netflix.


Synopsis Jilani Saadi's debut film is set in the arid Tunisian village of Bizerte. With his red-blond hair, green jacket and quirky personal habits, Khorma is the town's kindly joke - a big, well-meaning lug. His guardian is a crafty old Bou Khaleb, the official announcer of births, deaths, and marriages. When the old man mistakenly announces the death of a woman rather than her daughter's marriage, the film immerses us in the often-hilarious power struggles amongst the clerics of the "religion business".


About the Director Born on February 6, 1962, Jilani Saadi comes from Bizerte, a harbor city in northern Tunisia and the setting for his latest film, Khorma. Though both his father and grandfather worked as longshoremen, he immigrated to Paris at the age of 20 in order to study cinematography. Ten years later, Saadi dedicated himself to screenwriting. He directed his first short film, Marchandage Nocturne in 1994, and his second short, Café-Hôtel de l’Avenir, in 1997. Khorma is his first feature film.


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Featured in the Global Lens 2004 film series.

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WOMEN'S PRISON (Zendan-e zanan)
Director: Manijeh Hekmat
Iran   |   2002   |   106 minutes
Farsi, with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Synopsis This taboo-breaking film is based on Manijeh Hekmat's long fieldwork among women prisoners in Iran. She depicts the lives of Iran's lost generation in the two decades since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, using the claustrophobic life of women behind bars as a metaphor for the entire society. Her protagonist, Mitra, is in prison for killing her violent stepfather. On the eve of a prison riot she confronts Tahereh, the new warden, whose dogmatic views she challenges fearlessly. Over the course of the next 20 years, Tahereh's attitude toward her prisoners changes and softens, which reflects the country's shifting political stance. Eventually, Mitra, aged and exhausted, is finally released, but Tahereh left behind, is now more like a prisoner herself.

About the Director Born in 1962 in Arak, Iran, Manijeh Hekmat is a prolific figure in Iranian cinema. She was initially involved in the film industry as a script girl, and then as an assistant director for 11 feature films. In the last decade, she has produced five notable feature films including the award winning, The Girl in the Sneakers, and, Bunch of Grass, a German production in Iranian Kurdistan. Women’s Prison is Ms. Hekmat’s feature film directorial debut. It is based on her long studies and fieldwork with Iranian, female prisoners.

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Featured in the Global Lens 2004 film series.

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RACHIDA
Director: Yamina Bachir-Chouikh
Algeria   |   2002   |   100 minutes
Arabic and French, with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Algeria’s official submission to the 2002 Academy Awards

Synopsis The first-full length feature film bu Yaminda Bachir-Choikh evokes memories of the worst atrocities of the terror in Algeria. The forces of violence and ignorance erode but don't conquer decency and enlightenment in Rachida, the story of a vivacious young schoolteacher who refuses to buckle under intimidation, despite her anguish at living under the constant threat of terror in unexpected places. The film also highlights the corruption of an education system that has become the breeding ground of a culture of hatred.

About the director Yamina Bachir-Chouikh was born in 1954 in Algiers, and entered the film industry as an editor and scriptwriter. Her feature debut is Rachida.

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Featured in the Global Lens 2004 film series.

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TICKET TO JERUSALEM
Director: Rashid Masharawi
Palestine   |   2002   |   85 minutes
Arabic, with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Synopsis Writer/director Rashid Masharawi's inspired hybrid of documentary and fiction begins in a refugee camp near Ramallah. Jabir runs a mobile cinema from his old truck throughout the West Bank while his wife works to bring emergency medical care to Palestinians. Both navigate endless checkpoints and other obstacles by looking for creative solutions. When Jabir is invited by a spirited schoolteacher to make an open-air screening in the old city of Jerusalem, he becomes obsessed with the idea of this pilgrimage and begins to investigate the possibilities.

About the Director Born in Gaza in 1962, Rashid Masharawi is a Palestinian director living in Ramallah. At the age of 18, he started working in the cinema industry. He worked on over 20 films before he started directing his own. Furthermore, he established the Cinema Production & Distribution Center in 1996.

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Featured in the Global Lens 2004 film series.

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THE KITE (Le Cerf-Volant)
Director: Randa Chahal Sabbag
Lebanon   |   2003   |   80 minutes
Arabic, with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Lebanon’s official submission to the 2003 Academy Awards

Synopsis In director Randa Chahal Sabbag's fairytale for troubled times, sixteen-year old Lamia must cross a border checkpoint between Lebanon and Israel to marry a man she has never met. Neither she nor her betrothed are eager to consummate a marriage to a stranger matter further complicated by Lamia's surprising admission that she is in love with the Israeli soldier guarding the border. Sabbag's enchanting drama about marriage and tradition is underscored by delicate symbolism and artful references to politics of Lebanon's territories that have been annexed.

About the Director Randa Chahal Sabbag was born in Tripoli, Lebanon. She studied film at the University of Vincennes and the School of Louis Lumiére in France. She directed numerous documentaries, short films, and television programs before her first feature film, Sand Screens (1991). Her second feature film, A Civilized People (1998), a black comedy about the Lebanese Civil War, was censored in Lebanon. She refused to make edits to her film that the Ministry of Interior's military censors proposed, which resulted in her being vilified in the press and her family receiving death threats. In 2004, she was awarded with the nation's highest honor, a Chevalier of the Order of the Cedar, for her contributions to Lebanon. The Kite is her third feature film.

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Featured in the Global Lens 2008 film series.

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IN THE BATTLEFIELDS (Dans les Champs de Bataille)
Director: Danielle Arbid
Lebanon   |   2004   |   90 minutes
Arabic and French, with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Synopsis Daughter of self-destructive parents, Lina, 12, doesn’t show much interest in the war taking place around her in 1980’s Beirut. Instead, Siham, her aunt’s beautiful adolescent maid, is the focal point of her rebellious and neglected childhood. As the basis for the girls’ relationship shifts, issues of loyalty and power set off a series of events, which isolate Lina even more. Unlike films in which the violence of an urban war zone motivate a family to strengthen their ties, in this film, director Danielle Arbid depicts, instead, relationships that are shattered by passion, reprisal and guilt.

About the Director Danielle Arbid was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1970. She studied literature and journalism in Paris, and worked for several years as a journalist. Her short films include, Raddem (Demolition, 1998) and Le Passeur (1999). Her documentaries include Alone with War (2000), On the Borders (2002) and Stranger (2002). In the Battlefields is Arbid’s first feature film.

Featured in the Global Lens 2006 film series.



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WHAT'S A HUMAN ANYWAY?
Director: Reha Erdem
Turkey   |   2004   |   124 minutes
Turkish, with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Synopsis Set in an urban apartment building where neighbors, friends, and family are living in close quarters, the film focuses on male protagonists through whom the three phases of stepping into manhood in Turkish society are explored. Ali, suffering from temporary amnesia, is the main focus for the narrative twists in this circus-like environment. But, there is also a little boy who refuses to be circumcised, a young man who refuses to do his military service, and a 30-year-old man refusing to leave home. the nicely paced film with well-written characters is treated to director Reha Erdem's light touch and slyly amusing style without missing the opportunity to illuminate some serious points in a strictly patriarchal society.


About the Director Reha Erdem began his studies in history at Bogazilfi University in Istanbul. In 1983, he went to Paris 8 University to major in Cinema and Modern Art and completed a graduate degree. He directed his first feature film, A Ay (Oh Moon) in 1989. It received awards at the Nantes Film Festival, and was screened at the Locarno, Moscow, Vancouver and Dunkerque Film Festivals. His second feature, Kalf Para Kalf (A Run for Money, 1999) represented Turkey at the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. It was featured at the Tokyo, Munich, London, Oslo, Thessaloniki and Seattle Film Festivals. Erdem was invited to direct Hizmetlfiler (The Maids) by Jean Genet for the Istanbul National Theater in 1991. He directed a short film called Deniz Tlirklisu (The Sea Song), inspired by the poem of famous Turkish poet Yahya Kemal Beyatll. Since 1990, he has directed over a hundred TV commercials. In 1993, he founded Atlantik Film production company with Omer Atay.


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Featured in the Global Lens 2005 film series.


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THIRST (Atash)
Director: Tawfik Abu Wael
Israel/Palestine   |   2004   |   110 minutes
Arabic, with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Synopsis After one of his daughters "shamed" him, Abu Shukri brought his family to the edge of nowhere, to scratch out a living by burning wood to make charcoal. When he decided that the family would build a pipeline to bring in running water, he set off a chain of events that alters life irrevocably. A masterfully shot tale of repression and control in a harsh landscape that examines the dynamic of power within a family stretched to the breaking point. Working with a cast of first-time actors, director Tawfik Abu Wael crafts a story that is both archetypal and yet deeply rooted in the social conflicts of the Middle East.

About the Director Tawfik Abu Wael was born in the Palestinian town of Um El-Fahim in Israel, in 1976. He graduated from Tel Aviv University, where he studied film directing, and worked in the film archive from 1996 to 1998. He taught drama at the Hassan Arafe School in Jaffa from 1997 to 1999. His previous works include the shorts Bread (1997), Hashish and the Moon (1997), and Diary of a Male Whore (2000), and the documentary Waiting for Sallah El-Din (2001). Thirst is his first feature film, it won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2004 Cannes International Film Festival.

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Featured in the Global Lens 2006 film series.

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BORDER CAFE (Café Transit)
Director: Kambozia Partovi
Iran   |   2005   |   105 minutes
Farsi, Greek, Turkish and Russian with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Irans official submission to the 2006 Academy Awards

Synopsis In a village near Iran's border with Turkey, Reyhan, a young woman with two children, faces a difficult choice when her husband dies.Instead of agreeing to marry her brother-in-law, as required by traditional law, she chooses to support her family by re-opening her late husband's restaurant. Kambozia Partovia represents Reyhan's struggle for self-sufficiency in a rigidly traditional environment as all too real, and is continuously pressured to move into her brother-in-law's home and become his second wife.

About the Director Kambozia Partovi was born in the province of Gilan, Iran, and studied dramatic arts at Tehran University. His early work included creating the children’s television program "The Green Frog." He filmed "The Fish" in war-torn Tehran in 1987. He has worked as a screenwriter on Circle (2000) and Earth and Ashes (2004). Partovi’s films include Golnar (1989), Adults’ Game (1992), and Naneh lala (1997). Border Café (2005) won the Best Screenplay and Best Actress Award at the Fajr International Film Festival in Iran.

Available Screening Formats 35mm, DVD. Digibeta available upon request

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Featured in the Global Lens 2006 film series.


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