Middle East Now returns to Florence this coming October. Held inside the Cinema La Compagnia, at the Cinema Stensen and in other venues around the city, the festival will feature a multifaceted program of event including cinema, documentaries, art, exhibitions, music, food, meetings and cultural projects. MENOW is a festival that has always been characterized by a strong focus on current events, the recounting of stories of the newest and most vibrant phenomena of the cultures and societies of the contemporary Middle East -- which today more than ever need to be explored.
"An Abstract of Home" is the theme of the 13th edition, an invitation to reflect on the concept of home and a search on the universal sense of belonging and identity.
"In this year's program we want to share the work of artists and directors from the Middle East who use their creativity to express the countless meanings and interpretations of the concept of Home." - Middle East Now
The organizers of MENOW, Lisa Chiari and Roberto Ruta, explain in their press release what the theme means: "We are constantly looking for a Home. We pursue it in nostalgia, through our imagination, in dreams about the future or in childhood memories. The home is a universal concept and has many dimensions. It can be a family, a partner, a child, or a close friend. Home is where you were born or any other place other than where you were born. It can be on the fringes, nonconformist and rebellious. One can find a home in culture and in the past, in being and in becoming. It is found in spirituality and language, in the visible and in the invisible. It continues in the homeland of origin and exists in new and foreign lands. In migrating from one city to another or from one country to another, we are continually looking for a home, a sense of familiarity, which pushes us towards self-discovery, imposes questions of belonging and identity. In this year's program we want to share the work of artists and directors from the Middle East who use their creativity to express the countless meanings and interpretations of the concept of Home."
Within the program, there will be 30 films previewed, which have received prizes at international festivals around the world -- with titles coming from Lebanon, Palestine, Iran, Syria, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Turkiye, the UAE and the Yemen.
Among the films which we know and love at MIME are Ely Daghter's The Sea Ahead, Hany Abu-Assad's Huda's Salon, Zaid Abu Amdan's Daughters of Abdul-Rahman, Maysoon Pachachi's Our River... Our Sky, and the documentary Beirut Dreams in Color by Michael Collins which tells the story of the pioneering indie Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila -- whom I incidentally first got to watch perform live in Florence, thanks to MENOW.
But MENOW is not just a film festival, delving deep into art, food and all the other disciplines that make the Middle East the cultural hotbed it is. One such exhibition is 'BOUND NARRATIVES: A Photobook Library' cureated by Lebanese artist and curator Roi Saade, held inside the Museo Novecento in Piazza S.M. Novella.
Also, the 'Middle East in Comics' a focus on comics and graphic novels, to observe the Middle East from a different point of view than the usual, through a series of talks and workshops with the authors.
A return to this new normal has to include meetings between the filmmakers, and creators and the public. During this upcoming edition, a program full of conversations, debates, book presentations and insights on strong and topical issues, curated by Giuseppe Alizzi, expert on the Middle East, architect and essayist. The festival has invited experts, authors, journalists, essayists, cartoonists, artists to talk about today's Middle East and some of its hottest current issues on the stage of the Cinema La Compagnia.
For more information and to view the whole program of activities, check out the Middle East Now website.