Dima El-Horr’s Every Day Is a Holiday

Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Dubai International Film Festival are proud to announce the lineup for Orientation: A New Arab Cinema. Comprising nine features, one documentary, two short programs and a panel, the series is devoted to uncovering the best in recent Arab film, which has seen filmmakers tackle serious topics relating to life and identity in their respective countries. With this slew of new films, as well as the results of the ongoing Arab Spring movement, there seems to be a fearless confrontation of issues that have been regarded as strictly taboo and off-limits.

The films included in Orientation are notably female-centric, many providing a considerable collection of complex and strong female characters. Every Day is a Holiday follows the travails of three women who board a bus to visit their husbands in jail. When a stray bullet stops the bus short, the three women set out on foot to reach their destination, leading them on a perilous trip that mirrors each woman’s emotional journey towards liberation. Another example is The Rif Lover, in which the hopes and dreams of a young woman living in a tiny village are put into jeopardy when her brother betrays her by offering her to his drug-dealing associate.

Daniele Arbid's Beirut Hotel

The effect of intersecting cultures is another thematic concern for many of the films. This is evident in Amreeka, a humorous and moving portrayal of a Palestinian woman who emigrates with her son from the West Bank to live with her sister in Chicago, experiencing all sorts of culture shock as they attempt to adjust to their new home as well as the prejudice and unfair stereotypes that many Americans have developed towards her because of her background. A more intense option is Beirut Hotel, a romantic thriller that follows Zoha, a Lebanese nightclub singer who becomes entangled in an affair with a French businessman named Mathieu. As their passion increases, so does the tension emanating from outside the hotel's walls, and it is revealed that Mathieu may have more sinister reasons for his visit to the city.

Zelal, the one documentary selection of the series, explores a very particular facet of Arab life: the conditions of psychiatric hospitals in Egypt. The film takes an unflinching look at the inner workings of these medical institutions, exposing the overcrowded conditions of the staffers and the social mores of the patients, some of whom are women who were sent there for arguing with their husbands and men who have lived there since childhood for bad behavior.

Orientation: A New Arab Cinema runs at the Walter Reade Theater from August 24 – 29. To see the full lineup, schedule and more information about the films, head to the series page. See two films together and save with our Double Feature Package!