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Sharjah Film Platform 6 (various locations)
8 Dec. — 17 Dec. more info
The sixth edition of Sharjah Film Platform (SFP6) features a range of independent cinema and experimental filmmaking. The annual film festival foregrounds the transformative role of cinema in the region’s culture and community. The SFP6 Competition section features 30 documentary and fiction films vying for the Sharjah Film Platform Awards. These films have been nominated by a special committee of filmmakers and industry professionals, who practise in different parts of the world. All UAE premieres, the films will be followed by Q&A sessions with the directors.
SFP6 also offers a series of screenings that highlight noteworthy films produced in and around the region. This Out of Competition section includes Amjad Al Rasheed’s fiction feature Inshallah a Boy (2023) and Sonia Ben Slama’s documentary Machtat (2023). The Director in Focus section for SFP6 honours the late pioneer Safi Faye, whose films shed light on women’s voices in rural Senegalese communities.
Presented in parallel with the film screenings, a series of public programmes provides an opportunity for learning and gathering as a community. This year’s programme focuses on ideas of solidarity and resistance, empowered by the medium of cinema.
Moving sonically and poetically in dark times
DEC 9, Mosaic Rooms, London —more info
Creating a space for poetic reflection, sonic encounter and reverberation of positivity in dark times, Palestinian poet Farah Chamma and Brazilian music producer LIEV, otherwise known as chamæleon, will walk the audience through spoken word poetry and musical textures, diving into unknown depths, highlighting our search for belonging and taking us into an alternative universe where we contemplate our identities.
As a prelude to the performance Christina Hazboun (and Farah Chamma) will speak about the use of sounds and music as a counter-hegemonic tool in the Palestinian context, and reflecting on how a multitude of ways to “sound out”, “speak up” and “increase the volume” can bring attention to the under-heard.
PEN America Town Hall: Conversation Amid Crisis, Sustaining Dialogue in Divided Times
Dec 11, New York — more info
At PEN America’s Annual General Meeting, a panel of diverse thinkers will explore moral and creative imperatives of writing today. The panel discussion will examine not the conflict in the Middle East per se, but rather its ripple effects on the cultural, academic, and literary ecosystem back home. This conversation will endeavor to cultivate a space where writers and thinkers can navigate fraught topics by demonstrating a willingness to listen, engage, learn, and even narrow differences if possible.
The panel of experts, includes award-winning fiction and nonfiction writer Zaina Arafat; journalist and translator Yair Rosenberg; journalist, editor, and cultural critic Judith Shulevitz; writer and former Director of the Arab-Israeli Project at the International Crisis Group Nathan Thrall; and author, lawyer, and equity advocate Kenji Yoshino. The audience will be able to join the discussion and continue the conversation in a post-event reception.
The event will be live-streamed for remote audiences and will have ASL interpretation.
Voices From Gaza
Dec 15, London — more info
Amos Trust in association with PalArt Collective, Passion Pit Theatre and Theatro Technis, presents Voices from Gaza in which Palestinian writer Ahmed Masoud and UK playwright Justin Butcher curate an evening of verbatim testimonies from Gaza with live music and readings. The line-up includes Brian Eno (artist, musician and activist), Harry Baker (British spoken word artist, author and poet), Dizraeli (British rapper, poet and musician), Saied Silbak (Palestinian composer and oud player), Iyad Sughayer (renowned Palestinian pianist), Rosalind Nashashibi (Turner-nominated British-Palestinian artist), and acclaimed actors Will Keen and Amaka Okafor.
All proceeds will go to the Amos Trust emergency Christmas appeal for Gaza.
Arabian Days Festival: International speakers, artists, and performers to take the stage for the inaugural Arabian Days festival in celebration of UNESCO Arabic Language Day
Dec 15 — Dec 18, Abu Dhabi, UAE — more info
Arabian Days is a free event aimed at culture lovers of all languages with a daily programme of concerts, film screenings, art exhibitions and literary discussions. Under this year’s theme of ‘Arabic as the Language of Poetry and Arts’, over four days, visitors will immerse themselves in an array of interactive installations, films, performances, and workshops guiding them on a journey throughout the creative world of the Arabic language.
Arabian Days will include an engaging line-up of literary discussions and in-depth dialogues between prominent experts in the field of Arabic, including German Arabists Stefan Weidner, Mustafa Al-Sulaiman, and Carmen Gau; Ida Zilio Grande, Professor of Arabic Islamic Literature at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice; Anne Millet, Co-founder of LEILA (Arabic Literature in European Languages); Mehmet Hakkı Suçin, Head of the Arabic Language Department of Gazi University in Türkiye and Dr Khaled Al Masri, Professor of Arabic Language and Literature, at Swarthmore College, PA, USA, amongst others. As the Guest of Honour for the inaugural festival, HE Irene Lozano Domingo, Director of Casa Árabe, will deliver the opening keynote address.
Featured performers include Spanish band Al-Mawlid, whose music is inspired by their Arab-Andalusian heritage; Russian students from Higher School of Economics in Moscow performing a theatrical act inspired by AlMaqamat poetry; and Naseer Shamma, the world-renowned Iraqi musician and oud maestro.
The Arabian Days will explore a variety of topics within the sphere of Arabic language, poetry, and creative arts. These will include discussions on Arabic poetry, delving into the realms of harmony and rhythm, exploring the horizons of Arabic translation, examining the cultural and linguistic influences of Arabic music and sung poetry, addressing transformations and challenges in Arabic language curricula, exploring the intersection of fine arts and Arabic calligraphy, delving into drama and theatre, and highlighting the role of Arabic literature in fostering tolerance and understanding across diverse cultures.