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Tallinn Black Nights sets focus on Arab cinema


Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival’s 23rd edition will see a focus on Arab cinema, as the festival screens 14 films in the specially curated programme In Focus: Sizzling Arabia, showcasing highlights from the last decade.

According to the curator, Intishal Al Timimi, a Black Nights curator who is also the head of the programme of the El Gouna Film Festival in Egypt, the special programme is most likely the largest of its kind ever screened at an international festival in Europe. He added: “We are happy to present a selection of some of the best Arab productions of the past 10 years and a few very recent works that shouldn’t be missed. Arab cinema is on the rise, as Six Arab films have been nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award in the past eight years, two of which are screening in the programme - Theeb by Naji Abu Nowar and Omar by Hany Abu-Assad.

Al Timimi also commented on the challenges of the task and why some films were excluded: ‘It was indeed very challenging to represent the great cinematic productions of 23 Arab countries and the work and effort of over 350 million individuals, with only 8 titles, in addition to the six produced this year. Some important titles, such as Wajib (Annemarie Jacir, Palestine, 2017), The Insult (Ziad Doueiri, Lebanon, 2017), Son of Babylon (Mohamed Al-Daradji, Iraq, 2009) are missing from our programme, only because these films were recently already screened at PÖFF”. 

The countries included, as main or co-producers, are Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and several non-Arabic countries. Black Nights has previously screened a thematic programme on Afghanistan in 2008, called the Silk Road Hot Spots: Afghanistan Special.

The festival will be opened by Maryam Touzani’s Adam, that was screened at the Cannes film festival this year, receiving critical acclaim and has been presented by Morocco as their candidate in the category that is now called the Best International Feature Film.

Among other new films in the programme, we find the Cannes’ Un Certain Regard entry Papicha, Algeria’s candidate for the Academy Award that is currently being denied the possibility for a domestic release. The film centres on a woman who, while trying to organise a fashion show for female designers, opposes the radical Islamists that have come to power in Algiers in the 1990s. 

The retrospective section is headed by two films that have been nominated for Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language category: Theeb by director Naji Abu Nowar’s, the first Jordanian film to be nominated for Best International Feature Film at the 88th Academy Awards, that also won two BAFTA Awards among other accolades, and Omar by Hany Abu-Assad.

The programme is organised in collaboration with the El Gouna Film Festival.

Tallinn Black Nights film festival runs from the 15th of November until the 1st of December.
2019 films in the prgoramme

Adam, 2019, Morocco / France, director: Maryam Touzani 
Baghdad In My Shadow, 2019, Switzerland / Germany / United Kingdom, director: Samir 
Papicha, 2019, France / Algeria / Belgium / Qater, director: Mounia Meddour
Talking About Trees, 2019, France / Sudan / Germany / Chad / Qatar, director: Suhaib Gasmelbari
The Cave, 2019, Syria / Denmark / Germany / USA / Qatar, director: Feras Fayyad 
You Will Die at 20, 2019, Sudan / France / Germany / Norway / Qatar, director: Amjad Abu Alala

2011–2018 films in the programme

As I Open My Eyes (À peine j'ouvre les yeux), 2016, Tunisia, director: Layla Bouzid 
Barakh Meets Barakh, 2016, Saudi Arabia, director: Mahmoud Sabbagh
Death for Sale (Mort à vendre), 2011, Morocco / France / Belgium / United Arab Emirates director: Faouzi Bensaïdi 
Hedi (Inhebek Hedi), 2015, Tunisia / France / Belgium, director: Mohamed Ben Attia 
Iraqi Odyssey, 2014, Switzerland / Germany / United Arab Emirates / Iraq, director: Samir
Omar, 2013, Palestine, director: Hany Abu-Assad
Theeb, 2014, Jordan / United Kingdom / United Arab Emirates / Qatar, director: Naji Abu 
The Reports on Sarah and Saleem, 2018, Palestine / Netherlands / Germany Mexico, director: Muayad Alayan






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About Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

Started in 1997, the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival has grown into one of the biggest film festivals in Northern Europe and busiest regional industry platforms, hosting more than 1000 guests and industry delegates and over 160 journalists. The festival screens around 250 features and more than 300 shorts and animations and sees an attendance of 80 000 people annually. In 2017 the festival was covered in 71 languages with a potential global media audience of over 1.1 billion people.

As of 2014 the festival holds the FIAPF accreditation for holding an international competition programme which puts the festival into the so- called A-category of film festivals, alongside other 14 festivals in the world (including Cannes, Berlinale, Venice, Karlovy Vary, San Sebastian, Shanghai, Tokyo etc).  

Black Nights has an umbrella structure with two sub-festivals PÖFF Shorts and youth and children's film festival Just Film taking place concurrently with the main festival,
two off-season festivals - Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival and Tartu Love Film Festival - and a fully-fledged film industry platform Industry@Tallinn, organised jointly with the Baltic Event Co-production market.

Black Nights Film Festival 16 Nov - 2 Dec
PÖFF Shorts 20 Nov - 25 Nov
Just Film 16 Nov - 2 Dec
Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event 26 Nov - 30 Nov



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