The sixth edition of Middle East: What Cinema Can Do is set to unfold in the usual venue in Paris continuing the biennial's intent to inform, create awareness and stimulate dialogue, with a ten-day programme of shorts, mid-length and feature fiction and documentary films from Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine and Syria. But first a little background concerning the event.
Israelis-Palestinians: What Can Cinema Do? was the name of the first two editions of this biennale festival. The first was held from 26 March to 1 April 2003, quickly making its mark as an event not to miss, an event that can be qualified as the only biennale festival in Europe bringing these "enemies" together on the same programme.
Founder Janine Halbreich-Euvrard has been a film critic since 1974. That same year she organized - in Royan, France - the first third-world film festival ever held in Europe, already focusing on the Middle East, and of course, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She made a visit to the region in 2004, venturing to meet the filmmakers on their own territory.
By February of 2005, she had published a book bearing the same name, in which she recounts her journey interspersed with a series of interviews with some of the most prominent filmmakers in the region, including Sobhi Al-Zobaidi, Simone Bitton, Tawfiq Abut Wael, Mai Masri, Ram Loevy, Avi Mograbi, Georges Khleifi…The second edition of the biennale festival took place from 1 to 7 June 2005.
In the continuity of this strong beginning, the third edition took place from 21 to 27 November 2007. We recognised the need to widen our approach, for the whole area is implicated in this tragic and endless conflict and that is why the name of the event is now Middle East: What Can Cinema Do?.
Another new element for the 2007 edition was the debate+film daily screening, exploring crucial themes such as the Israeli settlement of Palestinian land, the tragedy of Gaza, that of Lebanon, the war in Iraq and the place of Women in Middle Eastern society.
For 2009, marking the festival's fourth edition, many of the themes were revisited in new works by Middle Eastern filmmakers as the region showed no sign of improving. A new focus was added, that of Iran and the growing unrest among the young people.
Furthermore, Middle East: What Can Cinema Do? was no longer a film week, but rather ran over 12 days.
In 2011. The name changed again: Middle East: What Cinema Can Do, in the affirmative form! And it lasted for two weeks. In view of the latest Arab Spring developments, it was necessary to add this new theme, marking the inclusion of Egypt for the first time.
Held at the cinema Les 3 Luxembourg, art house cinema owners Gérard and Anne Vaugeois have played an essential role in hosting the festival. Their dedication to bringing thought-provoking films and filmmakers to meet movie audiences on a regular basis has guaranteed that the event and the venue have been in perfect symbiosis.