Posted by: Sarah Standish | February 2, 2011

Event: Portland International Film Festival

It’s that time of year again–the Portland International Film Festival is almost here!

This year, only one feature-length film from an Arab country will be screened, but the festival includes several movies from Europe and North American whose themes touch on the Arab world.

Arabic students, you can receive extra credit for attending these movies and writing about them in accordance with the extra-credit guidelines. It is strongly recommended that you purchase tickets ahead of time!

All information given is from the film festival website.

Son of Babylon (Iraq)

“A son’s search for his father and a mother’s search for her son form the centerpiece for an exploration of the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Set in 2003, just after Hussein’s downfall, young Ahmed and his determined grandmother journey across Iraq in search of his father, Ibrahim, a soldier missing in action since 1991. Focusing on forgiveness and people’s ability to overcome rather than on the many atrocities of the regime, Son of Babylon offers a poignant, eye-opening take on post-war Iraq, telling the story of two as the story of many. “Chases a poetic answer for the crimes of Saddam Hussein.””

This year’s Iraqi submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

In Arabic and Kurdish.

Showtimes: Fri, Feb 11, 2011 at 6:45 PM (B4); Sat, Feb 12, 2011 at 8:30 PM (B3); Sun, Feb 13, 2011 at 8:15 PM (B2).

Incendies (Canada):

“Shifting between present-day Montreal and the Lebanese civil war of the 1970s, the story starts at the reading of twin brother and sister Simon and Jeanne’s mother’s will. It is revealed that they have a brother whom they never knew about and a father who is still alive. Their mother, Nawal, gives them the task of finding the two and delivering them her sealed letters. As the film cuts between the twins’ search and flashbacks to Nawal’s difficult past, Simon and Jeanne learn about their mother’s heart-breaking story and discover surprises about themselves. Adapted from Wajdi Mouawad’s acclaimed stage play, Villeneuve crafts an intricate and tragic cinematic epic that examines the roots of war, hatred, and enduring love.”

This year’s Canadian submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

In French and Arabic.

Showtimes: Fri, Feb 11, 2011 at 8:30 PM (WH); Sun, Feb 13, 2011 at 4:15 PM (B1).

Of Gods and Men (France):

“Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, Beauvois’ film explores the mysteries and consequences of faith as it tells the harrowing true story of a brotherhood of French monks in North Africa who find themselves threatened by Islamic extremists during the Algerian Civil War of the 1990s. Given to providing medical care and support to their Muslim neighbors and tending their garden, their life of service is one of peace and harmony until armed insurgents arrive, and they find themselves faced with an impossible decision: to flee or to stand their ground and fulfill their spiritual mission. Fundamentalism meets fundamentalism. “Magnificently photographed by cinematographer Caroline Champetier in compositions that suggest Renaissance paintings, Of Gods and Men is a poetic, austerely beautiful triumph.”—New York Film Festival.”

This year’s French submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

In Arabic and French.

Showtimes: Sat, Feb 12, 2011 at 8:15 PM (WH)

Budrus (United States):

“As Israeli-Palestinian tensions continue to escalate, Bacha’s inspiring film about the Palestinian village of Budrus (population 1,500) and its unlikely hero reveals the power of ordinary people to peaceably fight for extraordinary change. When a new Israeli-built wall threatened to lop off part of the border town, Ayed Morrar—a simple family man—was inspired to act. Soon rival parties Fatah and Hamas, Western activists, and even groups of Israelis were united peaceably behind Morrar and the citizens of Budrus, providing a galvanizing glimpse into the power of ordinary people to peaceably fight for justice in one of the most war-torn parts of the world. “This year’s must-see documentary.”—Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times.”

Winner of the Audience Award, San Francisco International Film Festival.

In Arabic, Hebrew, and English.

Showtimes: Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 8 PM (B1); Sun, Feb 20, 2011 at 2:15 PM (WH)

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