As political and social upheaval continues in the Arab world, another type of revolution is enfolding — one that is transcending borders, nationalities and religions. A renaissance in artistic expression, fueled by a newfound sense of freedom and dignity, is being championed by a courageous new generation of visionaries—many of whom are women—and they are offering a fresh lens into contemporary Arab society, culture, history and politics. This generation’s notion of what they think the Arab world should be is often in sharp contrast to the views of their parents’, and it boldly challenges the status quo in ways unimaginable before the Arab Spring. Not surprisingly, many are choosing to make their voices heard through film.
The pulse of the Arab Spring was certainly felt at the 17th annual Arab Film Festival (AFF), which premiered in San Francisco in October. Much of the vibrant energy experienced at this year’s event was undoubtedly a reflection of the AFF’s new direction as an organization.