The Endless Ache

AFS Essential Cinema: Children of Abraham/Ibrahim 5

<i>Bliss</i>
Bliss

For five years running now, the Austin Film Society has devoted a winter series to culling the very best of modern Middle Eastern cinema. But the troubles depicted in these films are ancient; with particularly heavy heart, we make note that repression of women – and the promise of violence when women resist that repression – is a recurring theme in some of the films showing in Children of Abraham/Ibrahim 5.

The series opens with Bliss, an award-winning 2007 Turkish film about a fundamentalist community's reaction to the rape of a virgin; her own family calls first for her suicide and then, when the girl balks, calls in a nephew to perform an "honor killing." That film is followed (in a rare Thursday screening; all other films screen Tuesdays) by 12 Angry Lebanese, a documentary film about a 2008 production of 12 Angry Men staged at a Lebanese penitentiary and performed by inmates. The University of Texas' Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic Flagship Program will co-sponsor the screening, which takes place on the UT campus and is followed by a Q&A with John Sinno, a producer and the president of Arab Film Distribution.

Feb. 22's The White Meadows is a narrative film about a man who rows along Iran's Lake Urmia, going town to town to hear inhabitants' sob stories and collect – literally – their tears. Faouzi Bensaïdi's WWW: What a Wonderful World, set in contemporary Casablanca, Morocco, is a rare thing in this series – a madcap comedy – but then it's right back to business as usual with Passion, a 2005 Syrian film about a patriarch taking action against a wife and mother who becomes obsessed with song. The series goes on brief hiatus, returning for March 22's Closed Doors. The oldest film in the series – it was made in 1999 – and set in Egypt, Closed Doors details a working mother's hardships, raising single-handedly a son who is being pulled toward religious fundamentalism. The 2009 doc Blood Relation closes the series (with the Austin Jewish Film Festival co-sponsoring the screening); it's a personal documentary by Noa Ben Hagai about her Israeli family's reckoning with long-lost Palestinian relations.


CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM/IBRAHIM 5: FILMS OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND BEYOND

Films screen at 7pm at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar (1120 S. Lamar). Admission is free for AFS members and $8 for the general public. Visit www.austinfilm.org for more.

Feb. 15: Bliss (Mutluluk)

Feb. 17: 12 Angry Lebanese*

Feb. 22: The White Meadows (Keshtzar haye sepid)

March 1: WWW: What a Wonderful World

March 8: Passion (Bab el makam)

March 22: Closed Doors (Al Abwab al Moghlaka)

March 29: Blood Relation

*12 Angry Lebanese will screen in the Avaya Auditorium (ACES 2.302) on the UT campus.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Children of Abraham / Ibrahim 5, 12 Angry Lebanese, The White Meadows, Keshtzar haye sepid, WWW: What a Wonderful World, Passion, Bab el makam, Closed Doors, Al Abwab al Moghlaka, Blood Relation

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