The Arab Irish Chamber of Commerce once again were lead sponsors of the Dublin Arabic Film Festival along with Dubai Duty Free for the fourth year.
The aim of the festival is to provide a realistic perspective on Arab people, culture, art and history. The festival continues to serve as an important platform for Arab filmmakers to reach out to a wider international audience.
The festival opened on Friday night with a sold out screening of Sophie Boutros’ topical comedy Solitaire – a wry look at the love/hate relationship and simmering tensions between long term ‘frenemies’ Syria and Lebanon, told through the medium of a family gathering – at the city’s Irish Film Institute.
Speaking to The National ahead of the opening film, festival director Zahara Moufid said: “We want to show people in Ireland a whole variety of different Arabic countries, issues and culture so they know about all the different cultures in the Arab world. Sometimes you say Arab and they don’t really know where it’s from. The UAE and Morocco are very different, for example, we even speak differently.”
Moufid admits that her hometown of Dublin isn’t renowned as one of Europe’s centres of Arab culture, but she says the local population are eager to learn more – as evidenced by the full house at the opening night screening: “Irish people are very curious,” she says. “And the local Arab population loves it too, because we try and bring the very best movies from the Arab world.”
President and curator of the festival, Jim Sheridan, the Oscar-nominated director of films including My Left Foot and In the Name of the Father, agreed that the festival has an important cultural and political purpose, though he revealed the original reasons for its creation where a little less highbrow: “It’s funny. A friend of mine’s son, who’s a journalist, said to me why did you start the festival? I had all these reasons about sharing cultures, but that’s just PR really, he says. “If I’m honest, Zahara came to me and said ‘We have to start an Arab film festival, and we have to get Omar Sharif to come to Dublin', so that’s what we did. I went and had dinner with him in Paris four years ago – the best lamb in Paris, he claimed. He came to the opening edition, and here we are, four years later.”
AICC Chairman Dr. Niall Holohan with AICC Director Thomas O'Dowd
AICC Chairman Dr. Niall Holohan with Festival Director Zhara Moufid
AICC Director Enda Corneille and Raisa Corneille
Damian Dempsey and Sinead El Sibhai
Festival Director Zhara Moufid with AICC staff
HE Dr Saeed Mohamed Ali Al Shamsi UAE Ambassador and Mrs Aeysha Al Shamsi with HE Soha Gendi Ambassador of Egypt
Mr Jim Sheridan with AICC Chairman Dr. Niall Holohan and AICC staff
AICC staff with Mr Rachid Seghrouchni, deputy head of mission of the embassy of Morocco