The outdoor season has brought one of Dubai’s trendiest independent cinema platforms to the capital for an extended programme.
Famous for their super cool pop-up events, Cinema Akil will be exploring some of the best independent films made in the Arab world at Abu Dhabi’s Warehouse 421, located in Mina Zayed, as part of the venue’s Wednesdays at the Warehouse programme.
The free screenings of four short films and four feature films from across the region, all with English subtitles, started in mid-October — however, they are not necessarily in Arabic.
“We expanded the scope beyond the Arabic language because we really wanted to know what other languages and identities exist within what is known as the Arab world,” said Butheina Kazim, the co-founder of Cinema Akil.
“We are showing a Kurdish film called Bekas, and it is entirely in the Kurdish language, made in Iraq,” added Kazim.
Bekas, a comedy drama from Iraq.
Other feature films in the programme includes a Palestinian movie titled Love, Theft and Other Entanglements, and Oscar-nominated Timbuktu, a Mauritanian-French drama.
“The strange thing about being in the UAE is that you are in an Arab country but a lot of the production that comes out of the Arab world is not as accessible. So we really have the opportunity to bring back those films,” said Kazim.
The first screening of the new programme was in October and it was a massive success as around 400 people turned up to see a rarity from Saudi Arabia, a romantic comedy titled Barakah Meets Barakah, which navigates the Saudi dating scene.
The showing has grown exponentially since Cinema Akil’s first partnership with Warehouse 421 back in January of this year where they held a similar programme, with movies from different countries, and saw around 150 people attend each event.
“We would love to have a more permanent or semi permanent presence in Abu Dhabi where we are catering for that need that is clearly there. Every time we go there we are surprised about the thirst that people have,” Kazim said.
According to Kazim the Abu Dhabi audience is also very different from the fast-paced Dubai crowd.
Love, Theft and Other Entanglements, an adventure comedy from Palestine.
“In Abu Dhabi people come, they stay for the film and they’ll stay after the film, hold conversations about what they have just seen and they will be very deeply involved. It is really great,” said Kazim.
Holding conversations about films is something that Kazim said has been at the core of what Cinema Akil has always been about.
“The ability for people to just come and hang out and linger and get to know each other and reflect on what they have seen. We have seen it be a consistent part of what we do. We are interested in presenting something then allowing people to absorb it and exchange the ideas around it,” she said.
Kazim said the intimacy of the current Abu Dhabi venue has also played a key role in the success of the programme.
“You are wedged between two warehouses and people make a real night out of it. There is food and popcorn and people are just hanging out,” said Kazim.
So what does she hope people take away from the experience?
“Great cinematic experiences, exposure to more complex understanding of the region, its experiences and also good conversations, I think that’s one thing that we really bring to the table.”
The film lover is also trying to promote a culture of clearing rights before any screenings to help the life cycle of the event.
“Especially with Arab film makers it is very important to clear the rights otherwise distributors will think why should I pick up and Arab film when no-one will go to see it. This can limit the film makers to festivals,” said Kazim.
Here’s the full line-up:
November 2 : The Aftermath Of The Inauguration Of The Public Toilet At Kilometer 375 — comedy drama, Egypt.
November 2: Love, Theft and Other Entanglements — adventure comedy, Palestine.
November 23: Night of the Blind Moon — drama, Tunisia.
November 23: Bekas — comedy drama, Iraq.
December 21: Sebeel — drama, UAE.
December 21: Timbuktu — drama, Mauritania and France.
For more info visit www.warehouse421.ae