The Poetess Image Credit: Supplied

This Ramadan, grab that popcorn for evenings of culture and cinematic pleasure as independent film platform Cinema Akil screens some award-winning films from the Arab region. Gulf News tabloid! goes behind the lens to bring you the best of the fest, along with a special cinemajlis for those looking for more.

The Poetess

Directed by: Stefanie Brockhaus and Andreas Wolff

Rebelling against the patriarchal set up, Hissa Hilal emerges as a voice behind the veil who becomes a contestant on the ‘Million’s Poet’, an Abu Dhabi-based reality show, that gives its winner millions of dollars in prize money. Using the platform given to her in biggest poetry competition the Arab world, Hilal enters a world dominated by men, where her poems serve as her weapon to criticise societal injustice in the fight for equal rights.

Details: Until May 11 at Alserkal Avenue, Dubai at various timings.

Naila and the Uprising

Directed by: Julia Bacha

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Screening in collaboration with Reel Palestine Film Festival, this gripping drama follows the story of Naila Ayesh, a Palestinian activist and resistance leader of the First Intifada, which is led by women. When a nationwide uprising breaks out in 1987 in Gaza, Ayesh must make a choice between love, family and freedom. Undaunted, she embraces all three, joining a clandestine network of women in a movement that forces the world to recognise the Palestinian right to self-determination for the first time.

Details: Screening from May 11-17 at Alserkal Avenue, Dubai at various timings.

Spirited Away

Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki

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Abu Dhabi’s Warehouse421 is hosting its first of two-film suhoor screenings on May 11. Director Hayao Miyazaki’s 2003 Oscar-winning Animated Feature follows up on his 1997 film, ‘Princess Mononoke’ with this surreal Alice in Wonderland-like tale about a lost little girl.

The film opens with 10-year-old Chihiro riding along during a family outing as her father races through remote country roads. When they come upon a blocked tunnel, her parents decide to have a look around — even though Chihiro finds the place very creepy. When they pass through the tunnel, they discover an abandoned amusement park. As Chihiro’s bad vibes continue, her parents discover an empty eatery that smells of fresh food. After her mother and father help themselves to some tasty purloined morsels, they turn into giant pigs. Chihiro understandably freaks out and flees. She learns this place is a resort for the supernatural after their tour of duty in the human world. And the rules are, if you forget your name, you will never leave.

Details: On May 11 at Warehouse421, Abu Dhabi. Free entry.

Nakba Day Special: PFU Series of Shorts

Nakba Day film shorts Image Credit: Supplied

Cinema Akil is celebrating 50 years of the Palestine Film Unit (PFU) and commemorating Nakba Day, in collaboration with Reel Palestine film festival.

This special screening will include a series of short films from the PFU by award-winning filmmaker Mustafa Abu Ali who launched the Palestine Cinema Group (PCG) in Ramallah in 2004, along with Khadijah Habashneh Abu Ali, a former founding member of the General Union of Palestinian Women (GUPW) and a current board member of the Palestinian Woman Research and Documentation Center (PWRDC).

Details: On May 15 at Warehouse 421, Abu Dhabi at 9pm.

The Journey

The Journey Image Credit: Supplied

Directed by: Mohamed Al-Daradji

In Baghdad 2006, as Sara stands on the cusp of committing an unthinkable act, an unforeseen and awkward encounter gives her the opportunity to witness the potential consequences of her destructive action. But, is this a second chance or an admission of guilt?

Details: From May 17 until 25 at Alserkal Avenue, Dubai at various timings.

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness Image Credit: Supplied

Directed by: Mami Sunada

The documentary takes viewers behind the scenes of the Studio Ghibli, where filmmakers Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, and Toshio Suzuki show their work to release two films simultaneously, ‘The Wind Rises’ and ‘The Tale of the Princess Kaguya’.

Details: May 18, Warehouse 421, Abu Dhabi at 9pm. This is a free screening.

Ext. Night

Ext. Night Image Credit: Supplied

Directed by: Ahmad Abdalla

Aspiring young director Moe (Karim Kassem) is in the middle of an existential crisis — his film is underfinanced, his friends are being arrested and his dream projects cannot be accomplished. A taxi ride through Cairo opens his eyes and introduces him to a different side of the city. Together with the witty prostitute Toutou (Mona Hala) and the choleric taxi driver Mostafa (Sherif Al Desouky), he manages to break free of his bubble.

Details: May 24 to June 2 at Alserkal Avenue, Dubai at various timings.

Cinema Akil nights Image Credit: Supplied

Cinemajlis Nights

Cinema Akil and Project Chaiwala are transforming the cinema into a dining majlis serving casual, family-style South Asian cuisine and screening award-winning Arab films throughout Ramadan.

Cinemajlis will also host games, talks, as well as performances by open mic event Blank Space including oud-qanun-piano sibling trio De3bal and singer-songwriter Haranero.

Iftar will be served every night followed by films screening at 9pm and 11pm on weekdays. There will be pre-iftar screenings on weekends.

The Cinemajlis iftar, plus film package is Dh200, which includes iftar and a ticket to the 9pm show.

*Cinema Akil tickets at Alserkal Avenue are priced at Dh52.50 and can be booked online.