BAFTA to celebrate Arab cinema

Event to screen Jordan's first pic in 50 years

LONDON — The British Academy of Film & TV Arts is celebrating Arab cinema by showcasing the works of filmmakers from the region with its annual global weekender.

BAFTA Goes to the Arab World, which takes place in London July 11-14, is being held in partnership with the Dubai Intl. Film Festival who will be bringing a delegation of Emirati film execs and helmers to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the Arab film biz.

The selection, a kaleidoscope of features and shorts from around the world, will include Sundance World Cinema Audience Award winner “Captain Abu Raed.” Thesp Nadim Sawalha (“Syriana”) also won best actor award at last year’s Dubai film fest for his role as an airport janitor who regales his poor neighborhood’s tykes with fanciful tales of his exploits as an airline pilot.

Pic, directed by Amin Matalqa, is the first feature to come out of Jordan in 50 years. Matalqa will be in London to present the film along with a number of other Arab helmers. The event is arguably the most extensive platform yet for the new generation of emerging Arab filmmakers.

Syrian helmer Abdullatif Abdulhamid’s “Out of Coverage” opens the four-day long event, a nod to mark the fact that Damascus is the Arab cultural capital for 2008.

Other U.K. preems include Algerian helmer Nadir Mokneche’s “Paloma Delice,” Tunisian helmer Elyes Bassar’s provocative “She and He” and Lebanese helmer Borhane Alaouie’s gangster drama “Khalass.”

Walter Armbrust, chairman and director of the Middle East Centre at Saint Anthony’s College in Oxford university will deliver a keynote on the history of Arab cinema, while a special networking lunch and panel will bring together Arab and U.K. film execs to discuss the range of initiatives on offer to lens in the Arab world.

BAFTA has previously ventured to Mexico and Bollywood for its annual global weekender.

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