Dina Iordanova and Stefanie Van de Peer

978-1-908437-11-2 (paperback)
978-1-908437-12-9 (hardback)

£22.99 (paperback)
£55.00 (hardback)

St Andrews Film Studies Publishing, 2014


Film Festival Yearbook 6: Film Festivals and the Middle East

The Film Festival Yearbooks have, by and large, been devoted to theoretical and conceptual issues. With this new instalment, we go back to the format of FFY3, and focus on a geographical area – this time we focus on the Middle East.

The Middle East in the title of this book is a diverse, varied, multiple and contested area. It is not an area that can be regarded as ‘one’ or ‘united’. And indeed, we acknowledge that in our coverage – we somewhat stretch the concept. This allows us to test the scope of a regional consciousness related to a sequence of associated lands that are not usually referenced by a single term.

By investigating the film culture and the respective film festivals of this wider area, we reveal how a culturally-informed geopolitical scope can ultimately shape a distinct and evolving take on the world. Exploring the history and politics of film festivals that are located in non-Western territories and that are thus often influenced by distinctive ideologues and agendas permits us to not only register difference but also see the logic that shapes the diversity. These are festivals that foreground cinematic texts from lesser-known aesthetic and conceptual traditions and display them in unique contexts. The cinemas and the narratives featured here reflect the political and cultural dynamics of an area that alternates between vibrant and volatile.

This book then looks in much detail at the large international and smaller national film festivals that take place in the Middle East and North Africa: their programming, audience development and event organisation. This collection of essays investigates the circuit of films, the impact of festivals and the representation of the Middle Eastern peoples, cultures and languages on international screens. This is a study of the many festivals that have shaped the cultural identities of the region in the past, as well as the new and vibrant festivals that permeate the region.


Asma Ajroudi; Murat Akser; Zena Al Tahhan; Savas Arslan; Jamal Bahmad; Melis Behlil; Chris Berry; Anne Demy-Geroe; Nick Denes; Gönül Dönmez-Colin; Alberto Elena; Javier H. Estrada; Azadeh Farahmand; Jean-Michel Frodon; Dina Iordanova; Mahmoud Kassem; Alisa Lebow; Laura U. Marks; Heather McIntosh; Sally Shafto; Amber Shields; Matt Sienkiewicz; Stefanie Van de Peer; Alia Yunis


Introduction - Dina Iordanova and Stefanie Van de Peer

Part 1: Contexts

Towards a New Cartography of Arab Film Festivals - Alberto Elena

The Film Festival Archipelago in the Arab World - Jean-Michel Frodon

Women’s Film Festivals in the Middle East: Challenges and Rewards - Gönül Dönmez-Colin

Table: Women’s Film Festivals in the Region - Stefanie Van de Peer

Arab Media Art: Experiments in Exhibition - Laura U. Marks

Filming Revolution: Approaches to Programming the ‘Arab Spring’ - Alisa Lebow

Film Festivals as Conduits for Parallel Cinemas: Bollywood - Dina Iordanova


Part 2: Case Studies 


A Forgotten Legacy: The Tehran International Film Festival (1972-1977) - Azadeh Farahmand

Fajr International Film Festival in the 1990s: The Past Is Another Country - Chris Berry

On the Road for Iranian Cinema: Some Observations on a Decade or so of the Fajr International Film Festival - Anne Demy-Geroe

Table: Film Festivals in Iran - Maryam Ghorbankarimi


A Glimpse at the History of Film Festivals and Competitions in Turkey - Savas Arslan

Turkish Film Festivals: Political Populism, Rival Programming and Imploding Activities - Murat Akser

‘Meetings on the Bridge’: An Interview with Azize Tan, Director of the International Istanbul Film Festival - Melis Behlil

Table: Turkish Film Festivals - Murat Akser

Middle East

Film Festivals in Egypt: An Overview - Mahmoud Kassem

Table: Film Festivals in Egypt - Koen Van Eynde

Damascus and Beirut, or Why Arab Film Festivals Go On and Offline - Stefanie Van de Peer

The Stakes of the Argument: Beirut, for Example - Laura U. Marks

Table: Film Festivals in Lebanon and Syria- Stefanie Van de Peer

The Spotlight and the Shadows: Film Festivals, Israeli Cinema and Globalisation - Matt Sienkiewicz and Heather McIntosh

Carole Zabar’s The Other Israel - Dina Iordanova

Table: Film Festivals in Israel - Viviane Saglier

An Overburdened ‘Brand’? Reflections on a Decade with the London Palestine Film Festival - Nick Denes

Table: Palestinian Film Festivals - Nick Denes and Stefanie Van de Peer

Table: Film Festivals in Iraq - Stefanie Van de Peer

The Gulf Region 

Red Carpet Education: The Persian Gulf Approach to Film Festivals - Alia Yunis

‘Our Festival is our Window onto Others’: An Interview with Abbas Arnaout, Director of the Al Jazeera International Documentary Film Festival - Asma Ajroudi & Zena Al Tahhan

Table: Film Festivals in the Gulf - Marion Fohrer and Stefanie Van de Peer


A Tale of Two Cities, or a Short History of Moroccan Cinema through Its Festivals - Jamal Bahmad

A Festival of Resistance and Evolution: An Interview with Mohamed Mediouni, Director of the Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage / Carthage Cinema Days - Javier H. Estrada

A Film Festival in the Polis: An Interview with the Organisers of the Festival du Film Arabe de Fameck - Sally Shafto

Table: Film Festivals in the Maghreb - Stefanie Van de Peer

Thematic Bibliography: Film Festivals and the Middle East - Amber Shields


In this exciting and densely informative study, a transnational array of scholars provides an accessible overview of Middle East-related film festivals, lucidly pinpointing their role as barometers of social change and harbingers of cinematic trends.

- Robert Stam, New York University at Abu Dhabi

Ranging from Turkey to the Maghreb, Film Festivals and the Middle East provides a wealth of information from the early festivals that arose in Iran and Tunisia to those established in three Gulf emirates since 2004. In their wide-ranging introduction the editors promote interaction among local and foreign producers, directors, and critics. They showcase cultural achievements and aspirations to the world at large, while locally fostering a cinema culture along with an appreciation of indigenous productions.

- Josef Gugler, University of Connecticut, author of Film in the Middle East and North Africa

This book is chock full of original research that will fascinate media scholars interested in the Middle East as well as scholars, programmers, and critics of film festivals in and outside of the region. With 29 different contributions, equal attention is paid to top-down governmental initiatives, NGO-supported events, and bottom-up grassroots festivals. The contributors highlight the importance of parallel institutions such as galleries, movie theatres, cine-clubs, cultural clubs, and universities.

Comprehensive and eclectic, Film Festivals and the Middle East provides an indispensable introduction to a long-overlooked region. It charts the rise of new festivals in the Gulf states in the context of established festivals in the Middle East, provides much-needed overviews of festivals in myriad countries, and re-introduces little known prior festivals. A treasure trove, the book combines historical overviews with detailed case studies and first-person accounts of individual festivals. The volume richly interweaves the voices of film critics, academics and festival programmers, a critical conversation that represents the best of current film studies.

- Jeffrey Ruoff, Dartmouth College