Vancouver-based Middle East and North Africa Film Festival 2020 launches with online films and discussions

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      In an effort to help address underrepresentation of emerging and established Middle Eastern and North African filmmakers, talent, and artists, a Vancouver-based film festival arose in 2019 and is continuing on with its mission this year.

      The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Film Festival kicks off its virtual second edition today (November 20), and will continue until next Friday (November 27).

      This year’s lineup includes three features, which can be viewed from across Canada:

      • Manele Labidi’s Arab Blues, about a psychoanalyst who returns home to Tunisia to open a psychoanalytic practise;

      • Panahbarkhoda Rezaee’s documentary Voice of Silence, about Iranian and Iraqi photographers who recall the troubling events of the Iran-Iraq war;

      • Oualid Mouaness’ 1982, about an 11-year-old endeavouring to declare his love for a classmate on the last day of school amid the invasion of Lebanon.


      Meanwhile, short films are packaged into three programs: Dreamscapes, about the relationship between people and homelands; Dispell, addressing memory and identity; and Daylights, which looks at reexaminations of the past.

      There are also livestream discussions to take in.

      Roundtable: Blackness in the Middle East and North Africa will be held tomorrow (November 20). Participating in this discussion about Black identity will be local documentarian Adhel Arop, Collective for Black Iranians cofounder Alex Eskandarkhah, and Sudanese-Egyptian filmmaker Eiman Mirghani.

      Then on Tuesday (November 20), In and Out of the Loop: Lebanese Art, History and the City will offer a panel discussion featuring Lebanese artists and filmmakers Lamia Joreige, Joana Hadjithomas, Walid Sadek, and Ghassan Salhab, as well as Jayce Salloum, Canadian artist of Lebanese descent, who will discuss issues about representing the Lebanese War.  

      Full details are available at the MENA website.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.