SineMardin Film Fest to Hit the East
Organized for the fourth time, SineMardin Film Festival, which is organized in the southeastern city of Mardin, will be an international experience for the first time this year. Starting Saturday, the festival will host internationally acclaimed filmmakers and screenwriters from Syria, Lebanon and Palestine throughout the week.
SineMardin film fest to hit the east Once again, the southern city of Mardin is set to become a hub for cinema with its SineMardin festival, but this time the event will be an international experience. Organized for the fourth time, SineMardin is expanding its territory by collaborating with ArteEast, a New York-based cultural institution that focuses on Arab cinema. The festival has also invited internationally acclaimed filmmakers and screenwriters from Syria, Lebanon and Palestine - including Ossama Muhammad, Noma Orman, Orwa Nyrabia, Anmar Hijazi and writer Khaled Khalifa - as well as young cinema students.
SineMardin, which starts Saturday and continues until June 26, offers viewers a selection of feature films, shorts and documentaries, as well as interviews and conferences focusing on other nations' cinema sectors and cultures. The festival's scope is expanding each year as it draws interest from around the world. When the SineMardin Film Festival was first organized, there were no movie theaters in the city. The event's efforts to develop a cinema culture in the city have led to the opening of the first and only film facility in Mardin last year. This year, the festival will also have open-air cinemas hosting film screenings. "We are trying to bring back the nostalgia of the old times, so we decided to set up two open-air cinemas in the city," said Zihni TГјmer, one of the event organizers. TГјmer, who has been managing the festival since its first year, said if everything goes as planned this year, the festival will be expand to Damascus in 2010.
Important names in cinema
Besides films and conferences, the festival hosts important names in cinema, including Nuri Kino, a Swedish director of Turkish origin who has won the Golden Palm award with his documentary "Assyrisska" and also works as a journalist in Sweden.
Syrian cinema pioneer Omar Amiralay, currently living in Paris, is another participant of the festival. Amiralay was awarded with a special prize at the Locarno International Film Festival for his movie "A Plate of Sardines," about the Golan Heights under Israeli occupation.
The SineMardin festival will screen a variety of films, including award-winning Turkish movies. It also has a special section focusing on Arab cinema, organized with the collaboration of the Mardin Cinema Association and ArteEast. The program includes screenings of feature films, documentaries and short films by Arabic directors. The Arab-cinema program also includes seminars and conferences with the participation of the films' directors and screenwriters. Organized by the Turkish Cinema Laborers' Union, or SineSen, and Screenwriters Association, or SENDER, the conference "Regarding Other's Pain" will take place in the mornings from Sunday to Tuesday and will include discussions on documentary-film production in the Middle East.
Another conference organized by SENDER and the Mardin Cinema Association addresses "The Importance of Screenwriting in the Film Industry."
Going international for the first time, the festival is hosting films from a nearby, but still very unknown, country. A selection of contemporary Syrian cinema will be screened at Babil Hall under the title "Focus on Arab Cinema." Beside the screenings of selected films, SineMardin and the Damascus Higher Institute of Drama have collaborated to bring a delegation of young moviemakers to participate in the festival.
The festival will also provide space for people who want to participate in educational activities around film studies. As in previous years, the Mardin Cinema Association will host a Short Film Atelier under the name of the Mardin Film Workshop, an eight-week course.
In total, there will be 12 short films and 15 feature-length films screened at the festival. The event's opening ceremony is being organized in the historic Erdoba Residence on Saturday and will include a screening of the film "My Marlon and Brando."
The film festival's program really kicks off on Sunday, when regular film screenings and the "Regarding Other's Pain" conference start, and the festival features an American Documentary Showcase and the conversation with Swedish director Nuri Kino.