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.Shame
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.