Middle East Now Festival to hold 12th edition in Florence

The beloved event, which typically took place each Spring in the Renaissance city, is now being held from 28 September to 3 October due to the ongoing pandemic and will feature over 40 films from the MENA, various encounters and an exhibit by Moroccan photographer Tabit Rida.
Middle East Now Festival to hold 12th edition in Florence

Cinema, documentaries, photography, art, comics, music, food, talks and special events -- the 12th edition of Middle East Now festival is about to start in Florence from the 28 September to the 3 October 2021, at Cinema La Compagnia, Cinema Stensen, MAD Murate Art District, Cartavetra art gallery and other venues. Featuring more than 40 films for an intense journey through from Afghanistan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Arab Emirates, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Kurdistan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine , Syria, Tunisia.

This year's opening film will be Radiograph of a Family (Iran, Norvegia, Svizzera, 2020, 82’) by Iranian filmmaker Firouzeh Khosrovani. One of the most beautiful documentaries of the last year, and winner of Best Film at the IDFA Amsterdam, Radiograph of a Family tells the story of the director's family and the perennial struggle by her parents between secularism and Islamic ideology. But also of a love that goes from the Shah through the Islamic Revolution, all the way to the Iran-Iraq war and finally to the present day -- a metaphor for the changes in Iranian society over the past forty years.

Also from Iran, another highly anticipated title takes part in this edition and it is Panah Panahi's debut Hit the Road (Iran, 2021, 93'). Panahi is the son of the renowned Iranian director Jafar Panahi, and his film is a vibrant family road movie shot against the backdrop of a harsh Iranian countryside, which debuted with great success at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

At this edition great attention will be devoted to Afghanistan and to the dramatic evolution of the country’s political and social scenario and its future prospects, through screenings of films, presentations and talks. And a special focus also on Lebanon: a cinematic spotlight that will tell stories from this country one year after the explosion at the port of Beirut, and the complexity of its recent scenario.

Part of their special events will be the exhibit 'Watermelon After Lunch' by Zahra Marwan a young and talented illustrator of Kuwaiti heritage now based in the United States. Marwan investigates through her works the complexity of being Middle Eastern in a completely different reality. At the Cinema La Compagnia and in other spaces around the city, a series of evocative illustrations tell of the artist's identity, her origins and her current situation.

'Marrakech in Time of Stillness' is a special event which will be inaugurated during the festival. Held at the MAD - Murate Art District (29 September - 20 November) on display will be the work of the young Moroccan artist Tabit Rida, a self-taught photographer who took to the streets to document his hometown Marrakech in this unprecedented period of time. While the tourism industry -- the main source of income and revenue for the city -- has been heavily affected by the pandemic, Rida seized the opportunity to photograph the many changes and observe the often overlooked reality of his city beyond its typical tourism and crowds. This work, something that fluctuates between between still and moving images, reveals encounters of daily life in times of stillness.

As with last year's edition, also this year Middle East Now will be held online, for those unable to join the events in Florence. During the same days and nights as the festival dates, Middle East Now goes also digital on the Più Compagnia platform, created in collaboration with MyMovies, which will be hosting almost all of this year's films, with a single ticket cost of € 9.90. One more opportunity for Italian audiences (yes, alas the platform is geolocked), to watch it all -- in addition of course to the screenings at cinema at La Compagnia and Cinema Stensen.

The complete program of screenings and events will soon be online. For more information, check out their website.

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