Latin America’s only film festival dedicated to Arab cinema returns to Buenos Aires on Tuesday.
The Festival Internacional de Cine Latino Árabe (“International Latin Arab Film Festival”), known colloquially as LatinArab, celebrates its 10th edition this year.
LatinArab, organised by Cine Fértil, will feature screenings in Buenos Aires from May 3 to 19, 2022. For the first time, the festival will also run simultaneously in Santiago de Chile and Niteroi.
Over 40 films from more than 30 countries make up this year’s programming, which includes the competition of Arab and Latin American short films and feature films for various honours and prizes. Screenings will be held both virtually and face-to-face in all three countries.
The multi-modality format provides for both a sense of community and increased access to the extensive content.
“It was important for us and for the public to return to theatres,” said Christian Mouroux, LatinArab’s artistic director, in an interview with the Times. “And in any case, we are also keeping the virtuality, which also allowed us to reach more audiences, to reach the whole country."
According to the event’s organisers, this diversity of access speaks to the mission of LatinArab as a whole.
“The exhibition spaces in which [the films] are presented are also heterogeneous: from commercial theatres and cultural centres to free access platforms,” said programmer María Jesús Santangelo. “Through this rich proposal, the festival seeks to be a meeting point for multiple territories, voices and audiences.”
Tuesday’s opening event will be a screening of the 2020 film Gaza mon amour (“Gaza my love”) directed by Arab Nasser and Tarzan Nasser.
This year’s edition will be the first celebrated since the passing of festival co-founder and co-director Edgardo ‘Pipo’ Bechara El Khoury in March of 2021. This edition of LatinArab “will be entirely dedicated to his memory,” Mouroux said.
“We believe that we are making an edition that lives up to his figure, to what he was, and I think he would be very happy and proud,” said the 37-year-old.
In a world where othering and misrepresentation of both communities onscreen are all too common, Pipo’s legacy has permanently shaped LatinArab’s mission and vision in terms of unity and representation.
“Pipo used to say that the festival allowed us to embrace our humanity, regardless of where we come from,” Mouroux told the Times.
“‘That supposed other that we see on the screen is not an other, but ourselves in another place,’” he quoted. “And I think that is the most powerful message that the festival can leave [people] with.”
*More information about LatinArab’s programming can be found on the City of Buenos Aires website.