Arab festival film depicts refugee troubles

Arab Film Festival opens Thursday, August 14.

Arab Film Festival opens Thursday, August 14.

A critically acclaimed film will open the 2014 Arab Film Festival in Parramatta on Thursday, August 14.

Opening night will feature a screening of director Annemarie Jacir's When I Saw You, which goes back to 1967 in Palestine when Palestinian refugees were forced to live in make-shift tents.

Co-director of the festival,at Parramatta Riverside Theatres, Faida Abboud, 42, said the film was inspiring.

"It reflects the hope of the people, that one day they might be able to return to their homes, so the firlm is very uplifting."

When I Saw You won Best Asian Film at the Berlin International Film Festival, Best Arab Film in Abu Dhabi and was Palestine's 2013 Oscar Entry.

Co-director Mouna Zaylah, 40, who grew up in Auburn and now lives in Parramatta, said the festival is designed to provide an avenue for people to engage with Arab-made films and dig into social issues.

"The festival exists to provide an alternative platform to come and engage with recently made Arab films that explore contemporary issues and topics that affect the lives of Arab people all over the world," she said.

"These films are about love, hope, relationships. Sometimes they tackle the clash of culture or the dynamics between different generations."

Another feature film will appear on closing night, and is aimed at a younger audience that might be attracted to its deft touch and levity, despite its serious topic.

"On closing night we are hoping to draw in a younger audience with May in the Summer, a story about a May, young woman who loves a man she shouldn't be in love with because he is from a different religion," Zaylah said.

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