Sunday, November 12, 2006

AFI Film Festival

The AFI Film Festival has been in town for the last week and a half and I have been lucky enough to check out four of the submissions.

The Yacoubian Building

Based on the Egyptian best-selling novel, THE YACOUBIAN BUILDING was adapted to the big screen amidst a whirlwind of controversy due to its depiction of taboo subjects such as corruption, homosexuality, religious hypocrisy and Islamic extremism. Set in the actual building that exists in Cairo, the residents of this 10-story structure represent the different layers of modern Egyptian society, from the old guard to the new. There is the former aristocrat who longs for the old days, the ambitious businessman who strives to be a politician, the successful magazine editor who is in the proverbial closet, the young student who is lured down a dangerous path, and the young woman who struggles to keep her family above the poverty line, which in Egypt is very low.


During the summer of 2002, in a remote village of Pakistan, 33-year-old Mukhtaran Mai’s life changed when the village’s tribal council sanctioned a punishment against her for a crime allegedly committed by her younger brother. Following the tribal custom of “honor for honor,” Mai was gang-raped and then publicly paraded around as an example. Her family cowered in shame. The village shunned her. Normally the only recourse for such a woman would be suicide. Instead, Mai set out to seek justice and shook the very core of Pakistan’s decaying judicial system. This is a real life story of courage, resilience and the strength of the human spirit.

Bab' Aziz

The story tells the whimsical tale of Bab’Aziz, a wise, noble man on a journey with his lively and spirited granddaughter, Ishtar. In search of a legendary gathering in an unknown location, the unlikely pair travels to this rare fête with the faith of knowing that “those who are invited will find their way.” Along the way, they meet a variety of fellow travelers, each on their own journeys with their own stories to tell.

If you liked Paulo Coelho's Alchemist, you will appreciate this film.

The Last Days Of Yasser Arafat

In September 2003, Palestinian-Australian filmmaker, Sherine Salama tried everything to get an interview with Yasser Arafat. As Salama ingratiates herself with Arafat’s aides and minders, lobbies officials and recruits her own Palestinian friends, she builds a compelling detail of daily life in the compound. In October 2004, she filmed the last interview given by Yasser Arafat. A month later he died. THE LAST DAYS OF YASSER ARAFAT is the final chapter in the story of one of the most controversial public figures of our time.

If you have the chance to check out any of these films, each is an incredible testament to the power of film to transform how we look at society.


At 6:10 PM, November 13, 2006 , Blogger chad said...

I am definitely going to try to see Shame. The little bit I read about this story a year or so ago was absolutely fascinating. What a courage this woman must have possessed to have stood up for herself. I love a movie with a strong hero/heroine.


“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!”
~Maya Angelou

At 6:15 PM, November 13, 2006 , Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

I knew things had gone in a very different direction when they had Arafat hemmed up in that compound.

At 9:12 AM, November 14, 2006 , Anonymous Roderick said...

I still don't think that Arafat's death was natural.

I think the American neocons teamed up Israeli Zonists to get rid of Arafat so they could move their PNAC agenda along.

At 10:01 AM, November 14, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

I too doubt it was natural. It is inconceivable that Arafat would have been the exception to the rule in a region where no leaders die of natural causes.

At 6:18 AM, November 15, 2006 , Blogger mrsleep said...

I am familiar with the story behind Shame. I figure the film is a must see.

There are precious few people in the world who break the mold.

At 7:01 AM, November 15, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

My friend and I walked out of Shame completely blown away by Mai. Even after she received money and offers to leave, she insisted on staying in her village because she said, if she left, nothing would change and other women would suffer the same fate. Her courage is godly.

At 3:20 PM, November 16, 2006 , Blogger skip sievert said...

The yacoubian building sounds pretty interesting to me. Having spent time in Cairo , and liking the town very much despite the pollution ,
I found a live and let live attitude there.
Many of the older Neoclassical buildings are extremely beautiful in the city and I am guessing this may be one here.?
I have gone up in some extremely spooky elevators , that after a while made me decide to take the stairs.

At 6:34 PM, November 16, 2006 , Blogger skip sievert said...

Spooky in the sense of rickety.

At 8:35 PM, November 16, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...


LOL! I knew exactly what you are talking about when you said "spooky". :-) Cairo is wonderful and charming (despite the terrible pollution) but there are moments where you wonder if you are taking your life in your hands. :-)

Since you've been to Cairo, you will love the movie.

At 9:40 AM, November 17, 2006 , Blogger skip sievert said...

I had a feeling you would understand insurgent, as I get the feeling you are very connected with that country. Ha.

I really liked Egypt. My favorite place was the western desert. I went from Alexandria to Siwa Oasis , and spent more time there than I ever expected to.
Alexandria is a wonderful city also , and has a completely different, but good vibe to it than Cairo.
I will check around for the time and place of the building movie .

At 9:49 AM, November 17, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

I'm going back in January. OMG - you've been to Siwa. All the youth in my family rave about how great it is there, and I am dying to go. My next trip, however, will be the basic tourist stuff as I will be with my hubby and 2 friends who haven't been before.

At 12:25 PM, November 17, 2006 , Blogger skip sievert said...

I stayed in Siwa about a week and had a hard time tearing myself away.
The food was excellent . The people an interesting bunch , the culture unlike any other.
It is not like being in Egypt at all. The Berber like people seemed to like me and I liked them.
I swam everyday in a pool of artesian water that Herodotus called the Eye of the Sun.
I walked up to the Oracle temple each morning which is on an acropolis. The temple that Alexander went to is still there.
I was usually alone there.
The reason I went to Siwa was this temple.
Alexander went to this place to get a message for his future life.
I have thought a lot of going back to this place and I thought in my mind that it would be a nice place to live.
It was an 8 or 9 hour bus ride from Alexandria .
The oasis grows some really good vegetables , dates , figs etc.
No shortage of goat meat either.
I highly suggest it as a destination Insurgent when you have time.

Insurgent you may want to google Siwa oasis and look at the place in pictures.
Last I saw they had some pretty good shots of the place on some tourism sites. I loved it there.

At 12:06 PM, November 18, 2006 , Blogger Free Agency Rules said...

I too am intrigued by the movie "Shame" as I agree with Chad about loving a good "Sheroe."

As far as Arafat goes, I truely believe that he could have brought peace to that region way back when Israel offered 97% of all of his demands, but he knew he would then not get the hundreds of millions from our government in Aid so as usual he rejected the offer. (Who would need him if there was no conflict?)

He was personally responsible for many murders of innocent people.

His death may have not been natural. Winston Churchill once said.."Nothing in Politics happens by accident", (hope I got that quote precise), and when it comes to political figures, you always wonder.


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