Films from the Arab Middle East Make Debut in Scotland

What are the artistic responses to crisis and the place of the moving image in today's Middle East?

Peacock Visual Arts is pleased to present Cruel Weather, a festival of recent film/video from the Arab Middle East. The festival is composed of documentary, experimental and mixed genre works that have never before been screened in Scotland.

The 6-week long festival, which also includes a gallery exhibition by Lebanese artist Ayah Bdeir, will be launched at Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen on 2 October and runs from 2 October to 14 November with screenings held at various venues in Aberdeen.

It will also go on tour to film theatres in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The works reflect a kind of renaissance of artistic perspectives in the Arab Middle East, often using documentary modes while critically examining them or showing their limits, or robustly combining fiction with non-fiction filmmaking.

Directors include Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri, Youssef Chahine, Wael Noureddine, Jackie Salloum, Jayce Salloum, Elia Suleiman, Roy Samaha, Jalal Toufic and Akram Zaatari.

Works range from Akram Zaatari’s This Day (2003), an experimental documentary on thirty-three years of Lebanese history, to the last film by Egyptian cineaste Youssef Chahine, his both praised and reviled melodrama and satire on contemporary Egypt Chaos (2007).

In addition to the screenings a youth filmmaking workshop by director Jackie Salloum (Slingshot Hiphop) and a masterclass by director Wael Noureddine (July Trip; Ca Sera Beau, A Love Letter from Beirut) take place during the weekend of 31 October and 1 November at Peacock Visual Arts.

A panel discussion featuring Salloum, Noureddine and the festival curator will be held at Peacock Visual Arts on Friday 30 October at 7pm.

The complimentary exhibition at Peacock Visual Arts, Identities in Motion by Lebanese artist Ayah Bdeir, highlights the tendency of the media to flatten the Arab identity and to reduce it to a set of cliche images and iconographies.

Lebanese-American writer and artist Etel Adnan says in an essay in the festival catalogue:

“Arab cinema is not yet a major in cinema history but the equivalent of a medium size provincial town…it's striving.”

Ayah Bdeir says in her statement about the accompanying exhibition Identities in Motion:

“The Middle East is the most mediatised region in the world, and yet Arabs are not thought to have layers, or complexities. 'Identities in motion' is a series of works that looks to contemporarise images of Arab identity, reinterpreting often archaic, frozen and homogeneous imagery. The works deal with the obsession of body, of media to flatten the Arab identity and reduce it to a set of cliché images and iconographies. My exhibition raises questions around complex life in the Arab world, its sexuality, social relations, political instabilities, economic disparities and memories.” 

The screenings, exhibition, workshops and panel discussion all aim to encourage a broader and incisive involvement in, and discussion of artistic responses to crisis, the place of the moving image, and the state of the Middle East today.

Cruel Weather is curated by Jay Murphy, of the University of Aberdeen's Centre for Modern Thought, and is organised by Peacock Visual Arts in partnership with Filmhouse Cinema (Edinburgh), Glasgow Film Theatre and Dundee Contemporary Arts.

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Notes for the editor

 
For more information, interviews or high resolution images please contact Nina Eggens, Marketing Manager at Peacock Visual Arts, on 01224 639539.

FESTIVAL WEBSITE http://www.peacockvisualarts.com/events/225/cruel-weather

More about the gallery exhibition:

Identities in Motion: Ayah Bdeir. 3 October – 14 November

The Middle East is the most mediatised region in the world, and yet Arabs are not thought to have layers, or complexities. Instead the Arab is cast into stereotypical, hyperbolic breeds: Sunnis, Shiites, warlords, sheiks, belly dancers. Identities in motion is a series of works by Ayah Bdeir that looks to contemporarise images of Arab identity, reinterpreting often archaic, frozen and homogeneous imagery. The works deal with the obsession of body of media to flatten the Arab identity and reduce it to a set of cliché images and iconographies. Identities in motion raise questions around complex life in the Arab world, its sexuality, social relations, political instabilities, economic disparities and memories.  www.peacockvisualarts.com/events/228/identities-in-motion-aya-bdeir

More about Peacock Visual Arts:

Peacock Visual Arts is the main Centre for Contemporary Art in Aberdeen and the North-east of Scotland. It is supported by the Scottish Arts Council and Aberdeen City Council. Started as a printmaking studio in 1974, in the past ten years it has broadened its horizons hosting an extensive exhibition programme and running a vibrant programme of events, education programmes and community projects. It is now about to embark on its biggest project to date: the building of a brand new Centre for the Contemporary Arts in Aberdeen's Union Terrace Gardens. www.peacockvisualarts.com

Contact: Nina Eggens
Phone: 01224-639539
Email: nina@peacockvisualarts.co.uk
Website: http://www.peacockvisualarts.com