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Press releases

DisORIENTation - Filmpreview

Contemporary Arab Cinema – film series from March
22 – May 11 2003

Invitation to press screening
Wednesday, February 19 2003 at 11:00 a.m.

For the film program of DisORIENTation, curator Omar Amiralay – himself a prominent director from Syria – has selected films which represent independent, innovative contemporary cinema in the Middle East. The program consists of two parallel, complementary series: in one, works by established Arab filmmakers, feature film directors and documentary directors will be shown. The other series, “Young Arab Cinemas”, will present selected works by young talents who are bringing new creative impulses to Arab cinema.

We invite you to preview four films from the program in the House of World Cultures:

11:00 a.m. Terra Incognita

D: Ghassan Salhab, Lebanon/ France 2002

1:15 p.m. Sacrifices

D: Oussama Mohammad, Syria/ France 2002

3:30 p.m. Children of Shatila

D: Mai Masri, Palestine/ Great Britain 1998
Frontiers of Dreams and Fears

D: Mai Masri, Palestine/ USA 2001

For more information on the films, please see below.

We would also like to announce the press screening of Elia Suleiman’s “Divine Intervention”, which will open the film program of DisORIENTation. It will be held on February 18 at 10:30 p.m. in Filmkunst 66, Berlin; the director will be present.

We look forward to seeing you.

Yours truly,

Christine Regus, press office

Please confirm your attendance by phone at (030) 397 87 196, by fax at 394 86 79 or by e-mail at

Press office: House of World Cultures, John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10, 10557 Berlin, Christine Regus, phone: ++49-30-397 87 153, fax: ++49-30-394 86 79,

The films:

Terra Incognita
D: Ghassan Salhab, Lebanon/ France 2002, 120 min., orig. w. Eng. subtitles
Beirut today, a city in the process of rebuilding, a city whose face changes daily. The film sketches the topography and history of the city as reflected in the biographies of its inhabitants. While Soraya takes tour groups to the sites of vanished civilizations and, more and more frequently, to the scenes of the war, Leyla wavers between mysticism and extreme nihilism. The architect Nadim is attempting to reinvent the city, but hardly ever leaves his apartment anymore. Tarek recently returned to Lebanon and is wondering why he bothered. Finally, the radio journalist Haïdar retreats into the role of observer. None of them dares to look back into the past, much less pursue projects for the future.


D: Oussama Mohammad, Syria/ France 2002, 113 min., orig. w. Eng. subtitles
A poetic allegory about authoritarian, repressive familial relationships. Oussama Mohammad describes a broken family: when the head of the family dies before officially recognizing the newborn grandchildren, they must find their own ways to build up a stable identity. The first attempts this through reserve and submissiveness, the second through love and the third through violence and cruelty.

“I am interested in the consequences of power,” director Mohammad explains. “When one of us is given power over another person, it destroys something in the other person and in our self. Power is the most absolute form of violence. This is visible even in simple family structures.”

Children of Shatila

D: Mai Masri, Palestine/ Great Britain 1998, 50 Min., Beta SP, orig. w. Eng. subtitles
Focussing on the story of the 11-year-old Farah and the 12-year-old Issa, “Children of Shatila” portrays the shattering reality of life for Palestinian refugee children who are confronted early on with massacres, siege and famine. But it also explores the children’s imaginations, the way in which dreams and fantasies help them cope with the traumatic experiences of their everyday life.

Frontiers of Dreams and Fears
D: Mai Masri, Palestine/ USA 2001, 56 min., Beta SP, orig. w. Eng. subtitles
“Frontiers of Dreams and Fears”, Masri’s most recent work, was inspired by the desire to explore the further paths of the children introduced in “Children of Shatila”. “I wanted to make a second film to see how their lives changed and what happened to their dreams,” says Masri. The film concentrates on Mona and Manar, who manage to become friends despite the border between Israel and Lebanon. When the Intifada breaks out around them, the two girls are suddenly confronted with tragic changes.

>>>We will be happy to provide you with photos and further information on the film series or other events that are part of DisORIENTation.