Nearly 120 films are scheduled as part of the International Festival of Oriental movie that started last Monday until next Sunday in Geneva.
This 11th edition, which every year attracts thousands of people, among them Swiss and foreign moviegoers, will pay tribute to actor Franco-Egyptian Omar Sharif, who died in 2015 at the age of 84. A real bridge between East and West, the festival will present eight films depicting the three main stages of his career: Egyptian, International and one that marks his return to his homeland.
Among the films that will be released include among others “Our best days (1955),” “The Black Waters (1956),” “Struggle on the Nile” (1959), “River of Love” ( 1961), Lawrence of Arabia (1963), and “Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran” (2002). This deep dive into the cinema of the East comes as that part of the world is facing a terrible terrorist threat which is, every day, trying to silence any cultural expression and neutralize the freedom that allows the Arab artist to create, to express his desires and anger and to take part in the march of the world.
For Tahar Houchi, general and artistic director of the festival, “faced with the chaos, the lack of direction and death, art remains the voice of salvation, inviting all directors, actors and the film world to howl with Victor Hugo and say, “Let’s save freedom! Freedom will do the rest.”
“Racont’Arts” Kabyle villages in Geneva
Many long Algerian films will also be screened during the Oriental Film Festival in Geneva, among them are “Fadhma N’soumer” Hadjadj Belkacem. The film evokes the strength of this woman Kabyle in favor of the freedom of his people and to impose peace.
The public will discover “Madame Courage”, the film by Merzak Allouache, screened as preview at the International Festival of African Cinema in Verona last November. In this film, Allouache shows how the right ravaged the Algerian youth mired in unemployment and disillusionment.
Le film raconte l’histoire de Adlan, un terroriste qui passe sa vie à faire des petits trafics pour gagner un peu d’argent qui lui permettra d’aller le weekend tuer son ter en regardant le match de football du Mouloudia club d’Alger.
In the documentary series, the Geneva public will discover for the first time “Racont’Arts” by Yazid Arab. Founded in 2004, this team of women and men crisscross each summer the Kabyle villages to tell stories, singing and dancing. Regarding the short films, it was the film by Karim Sayad “Babor Casanova” that was chosen. The film tells the story of Adlan, a terrorist who spends his life doing small trades to earn some money that will allow him to go during the weekend to kill while watching the football game featuring the club Mouloudia of Algiers .
Debates and round tables on terrorism and Syria
Other countries are also present and featured strongly with many films some of which have hit the headlines. Like the Moroccan feature film “Much loved” by Nabil Ayouch that tells the daily life of Moroccan prostitutes in Marrakech. The lead actress was beaten and disfigured in the street in Casablanca by Islamists because she dared to show a subject of taboo society.
The 11th festival of Geneva has planned a range of films, from classic to most evocative. Debates will also be held throughout the week of the festival. And to stick to the burning issue of the Arab world, many round tables will be organized on topics such as Islamism, jihadism and Salafism, or the war of girls in Kurdistan, not to mention the Syrian conflict that caused the death of over 200,000 people.
While Switzerland folds increasingly on itself and creates barriers to its borders, Oriental Film Festival unexpectedly brings a breath of fresh air to all those who believe in the transversality of cultures and destinies.
– Yacine Farah