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DFI’s top picks for the 69th Venice Film Festival

Aug 30, 2012

Compiled by Anealla Safdar

The 69th Venice Film Festival is in its second day running after opening with the latest film financed by Doha Film Institute – “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”.

For those basking in Italy’s heat at the world’s oldest international festival, there’s still plenty to see; a number of films (many from the Arab region) are in the programme.

Here are our top picks:

In competition, Venezia 69:

Paradise: Faith still. Photo credit: Coproduction Office

Title: Paradise: Faith – 2012
Director: Ulrich Seidl
Synopsis: For Anna Maria, an X-ray technician, paradise lies with Jesus. She devotes her vacation to missionary work, so that Austria may be brought back to the path of virtue. On her daily pilgrimage through Vienna, she goes from door to door, carrying a foot-high statue of the Virgin Mary. One day, after years of absence, her husband, an Egyptian Muslim confined to a wheelchair, comes home.

Collateral Events, Premio Citta di Venezia Award:

Son of Babylon still. Photo credit: Human Film

Title: Son of Babylon – 2009
Director: Mohamed Al Daradji
Synopsis: A willful young boy follows his just-as-obstinate grandmother in a journey across Iraq, determined to discover the fate of her missing son, Ahmed’s father, who never returned from war.

Sur la route du paradis (The Road to Paradise) still. Photo credit: EasyTiger Films

Title: Sur la route du paradis (The Road to Paradise) – 2011
Director: Uda Benyamina
Synopsis: Leila and her two children, Sarah and Bilal, leave their homeland to settle in France. They struggle with poverty and a missing husband and father, but seek moments of happiness where they can.

Screening under the ‘Orizzonti’ category for new trends in world cinema:

Araf (Somewhere in Between) still. Photo credit: The Match Factory

Title: Araf (Somewhere in Between) – 2012
Director: Yesmin Ustaoglu
Synopsis: Zehra and Olgun lives are stuck in a dull limbo. They pass their days working in a service station where everything seems transient and inane, their banal and monotonous 24-hour work shifts broken only by the sparks of their naive and unrealistic expectations of a brighter future.

El Sheita Elli Fat (Winter of Discontent) still. Photo credit:

Title: El Sheita Elli Fat (Winter of Discontent) – 2012
Screening under the ‘Orizzonti’ category for new trends in world cinema
Director: Ibrahim El Batout
Synopsis: Amr is a 35 year old man who wakes up one day to a very different Egypt. He rarely leaves home as he works from his place designing software. It is January 25, 2011 and Amr starts the day with news of protests all over Cairo and marches leading to Tahrir square. Something tells him that these protests will lead to major political change.

للترجمة العربية اضغط على

Wadjda director Haifaa Al Mansour

Title: Wadjda – 2012
Director: Haifaa Al Mansour
Synopsis: Wadjda is a 10-year old girl living in Riyadh under conservative conditions. While she wants to play with friends, her mother is less keen. Can she convince her elders to let her be?

Yema still. Photo credit: Neon Production

Title: Yema – 2011
Director: Djamila Sahraoui
Synopsis: A small abandoned house, isolated in the Algerian countryside: Here Ouardia has buried her son Tarik, a soldier possibly killed by his own brother Ali, leader of an Islamist group. She is watched by one of Ali’s men who lost an arm in an explosion.

Special Screening; Out of Competition:

Witness: Libya poster. Photo credit:

Title: Witness: Libya – 2011
Director: Abdallah Omeish
Synopsis: A few months after Gaddafi’s death we journey back into Libya through the eyes of conflict photographer Michael Christopher Brown. He retraces his journey during the war that led to the mortar attack which killed two photographers and wounded him and he discovers that the euphoria, once in the streets, has evolved into new conflicts as he deals with the reality of what happened and the heavy price that one of his mentors paid.

Ya Man Aach – (It Was Better Tomorrow). Photo credit:

Title: Ya Man Aach – (It Was Better Tomorrow) – 2012
Director: Hinde Boujemaa
Synopsis: Through the hubbub of a revolution, Aida, a Tunisian woman has to rebuild her entire life and does not wish to look backwards. She spends her time moving from one poor neighborhood to another. Driven by the will to find a roof over her head and for her children, she takes no notice of the historical events taking place around her.

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