The Time Is New: Contemporary Arab Cinema

A selection of the best in contemporary Arab cinema.

This collection, which borrows its title from the book There: In the Light and Darkness of the Self and the Other by Etel Adnan, accompanies a wider season of works screening at BFI Southbank through September 2021, highlighting recent films made by Arab filmmakers between 2019 and 2021.

Bringing together a selection of fiction, documentary and genre-defying films, we highlight new currents within Arab cinema that challenge the stereotypical, weave personal narratives into broader questions and celebrate the potential of imagination as a path to a politics of freedom.

Arab Cinema has gained significant visibility on the international festival circuit in recent years, yet there are continuing efforts to create spaces for screening critically-acclaimed Arab films for audiences in the region. Many of the titles here have been screened at the Cairo-based Zawya Cinema, and so this season is a coming together of two organisations with two very different histories, audiences and infrastructures. Enjoy!

season co-programmers Youssef Shazli and Alia Ayman.

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Drama2021102 minsDirector: Ayten Amin

Double lives and double standards in Egypt, as a teenage girl contends with religion and social media to define herself.

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Let's TalkLet's Talk

Documentary202199 minsDirector: Marianne Khoury

An exploration of identity, as told by the women in family of the great Egyptian filmmaker, Youssef Chahine.

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Talking about TreesTalking about Trees

Documentary201994 minsDirector: Suhaib Gasmelbari

Beautifully shot documentary about four members of the 'Sudanese Film Club' who decide to revive an old cinema.

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As Above, So BelowAs Above, So Below

Documentary202070 minsDirector: Sarah Francis

A poetic reflection on sovereignty, perspective, space and futurisms.

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200 Meters200 Meters

Drama201996 minsDirector: Ameen Nayfeh

In Ameen Nayfeh’s accomplished feature debut, a Palestinian father navigates the complexities of life under occupation, where the wall separates him from his family.

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Beauty and the DogsBeauty and the Dogs

Drama2017100 minsDirector: Kaouther Ben Hania

Kaouther Ben Hania’s bold and defiant fiction debut tells the story of a sexual assault in nine stunning single-take sequences.