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Middle Eastern Challenge - excluding Iran (Official, April 2021)

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sol
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Middle Eastern Challenge - excluding Iran (Official, April 2021)

#1

Post by sol »

Middle Eastern Challenge

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Link to Map including Kurdistan: https://i.imgur.com/BVF2USl.png

GOAL
Watch movies from Middle Eastern countries other than Iran. Discuss them. (Iran is excluded because there will be a separate Iran/Central Asia Challenge later this year.)

Eligible Countries more than 700 titles listed on IMDb:

- Cyprus
- Egypt
- Israel
- Lebanon
- Turkey
- United Arab Emirates

Watch films from each of these countries for bonus challenge points!

Eligible Countries with less than 700 titles listed on IMDb:

- Bahrain
- Iraq
- Jordan
- Kuwait
- Oman
- Palestine
- Qatar
- Saudi Arabia
- Syria
- Yemen

I have provided a Letterboxd list for the UAE since the IMDb list is riddled with ineligible co-productions. The Letterboxd list is not an exhaustive guide and obviously you can include other films with the UAE as a production country on IMDb. Just not random Hollywood films like A Most Violent Year or Men in Black 3. In actual fact, most Middle Eastern countries have a very large number of co-productions, so double-checking eligibility may be useful.

I would ask you to think carefully about whether any co-productions really represent Middle Eastern cinema.

RULES
- Each feature film (over 40 minutes) counts as one entry.
- 80 minutes of short films or miniseries/TV episodes counts as one entry.
- Films must be watched one at a time and at single speed (not sped up).
- Rewatches are allowed and are good for the soul.
- Please include year of release when listing your viewings.
- Please indicate each film's country when listing your viewings otherwise your score will NOT be included in the leaderboard.

I reserve the right to exclude participants who intentionally number their viewings incorrectly. If you play the game, you're expected to play properly.

DEADLINE
Final results will be posted between 2:30pm and 4:30pm GMT on May 2 - at which point it will have been May everywhere in the world for more than a whole day. While you are welcome to post updates beyond this point, any such updates will not be included in the final results. Your choice whether you miss the deadline or not; besides, if it's May on your side of the world, shouldn't you be starting on one of next month's challenges?

OFFICIAL LISTS
- Maariv's Best Israeli Films
- Hürriyet's The 100 Best Movies of Turkish Cinema
- DIFF's 100 Greatest Arab Films (films from eligible countries only)
- UNESCO Memory List (eligible country sections only)
- Asian Cinema: A Field Guide (eligible country sections only)

NON-OFFICIAL LISTS
- iCM Forum's Favourite Films from the Middle East - excluding Irian productions
- Sol's Favourite Films from the Middle East - excluding Irian productions
- Kurdish Kurdistan - a list by Armoreska - excluding Iran productions
- Bibliotheca Alexandrina's Most Important 100 Egyptian films
- Turkish Submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
- Israeli Submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
- Lebanese Submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
- Jordanian Submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
- Palestinian Submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
- Cyprus Cinema - The most notable films by Cypriot directors
- Israeli Film: A Reference Guide
- UAE Films | افلام إماراتية

This Challenge has been run twice before in an Official Capacity:

- 2018 Challenge - hosted by sol and won by RogerTheMovieManiac88 with 51 points
- 2016 Challenge - hosted by 3eyes and won by 3eyes and Ataraxic with 20 points

Any Fun Stats? Maybe. Certainly not if this Challenges gets very busy, but I would at least like to be able to present a pie chart. This is an example of the sort of pie chart that I am looking at.

This thread will be updated at least once every 48 hours (more often if I am around and feel like it). Please list new films seen in a new post.

Bonus Challenge: Get something in every column below... except the last column. The only way to do this is by watching something from each of the six largest film-producing eligible countries, something from one of the other countries and remembering to list the country with every viewing.

Any points in the "undeclared" column will not count towards your final score. You must declare the country when listing your viewings.

@oro10
Participants
Rank Participant Count Israel Turkey Egypt Lebanon U.A.E. Cyprus Other Undeclared
1 sol 32 9 591116-
2 Mario Gaborović 22 7 10--113-
3 jdidaco 20 3.5 5.52.34.5211.2-
4 flavo5000 18 5 10-21---
5 AB537 10 5 211--1-
5 ororama 10 1 -8-1---
6 Armoreska 9 - 3----6-
8 blocho 7 6 -----1-
9 Bing147 4 - 111--1-
9 DudeLanez 4 1 111----
11 OldAle1 3 - 111----
12 vortexsurfer 2 1 --1----
13 Lilarcor 1 - -----1-
Last edited by sol on April 21st, 2021, 8:32 am, edited 12 times in total.
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#2

Post by Knaldskalle »

In for about a handful.
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Please don't hurt yourself, talk to someone.
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#3

Post by Fergenaprido »

I'll join this challenge this month. There are a number of never-seen countries I can knock off. I've got about 20 films lined up to hit most of them, though I'll probably be lucky to see 10-15 of them. I might be able to do the bonus challenge too, but I didn't realize Turkey and Cyprus was included so I have to go find a film for the latter. Also missing films for Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq, and UAE, but I'm not going to worry about hitting every country on the list.
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#4

Post by sol »

Fergenaprido wrote: April 1st, 2021, 4:34 am I might be able to do the bonus challenge too, but I didn't realize Turkey and Cyprus was included so I have to go find a film for the latter. Also missing films for Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq, and UAE, but I'm not going to worry about hitting every country on the list.
There are films from the UAE currently streaming on Netflix (AU) and films from Cyprus streaming on Prime (AU). That said, I'm in two minds about including them in the bonus challenge. I thought it would be a bit too easy if I made the bonus challenge just the three biggest film producers (Israel, Turkey, Egypt) so I looked up the rest of the regions, and the UAE and Cyprus both trump Lebanon in terms of number of titles listed, so it would seem weird to include Lebanon in the bonus challenge but not those two regions. Likewise, I thought about including Palestine, but the region actually has less than half the number of productions of Lebanon.

The biggest issue with Cyprus is that most of its ~1800 productions have very few votes are therefore probably aren't easy to track down (though I do own one on DVD). As for the UAE, their number of international co-productions are through the roof. Actual UAE films by UAE filmmakers might be smaller than Palestine, but there is no way of knowing without interrogation the data further and I don't have unlimited spare time to do so.

Still, I don't think it's bad to challenge folks to track a UAE or Cypriot film down and expand their horizons.
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#5

Post by sol »

And.... IT STARTS! First in. :D

1. The Farewell Party (2014) Israel

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Retirement home residents build a euthanasia machine to help their terminally ill friends in this curious comedy/drama blend. The film does not quite get the balance right between laughs and pathos with many lame gags (a gay man hiding in a closet) in the mix. The film is very well acted though, with all concerned in fine form, and many of the themes and ideas at hand are thought-provoking. There is also an intense, almost thriller-like hospital run.
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#6

Post by Bing147 »

1. Wadjda (2012) Saudi Arabia

Had this down for female director challenge but late in the month realized it would work here too so I prioritized other things. Glad I got to it though, excellent film
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#7

Post by sol »

Bing147 wrote: April 1st, 2021, 2:04 pm Had this down for female director challenge but late in the month realized it would work here too so I prioritized other things.
I can actually say that about both my first two viewings here too. And I have that Saudi film lined up to watch myself later this month, though I'll be approaching with caution given that the director's Mary Shelley was one of the worst films that I watched for last month's Women Directors Challenge. :yucky:
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#8

Post by sol »

Middle Eastern Promises
1. The Farewell Party (2014) Israel
2. Zero Motivation (2014) Israel

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Various female soldiers struggle with crises as they try to alleviate their boredom while performing menial duties in the Israeli army in this comedy that has been compared to MASH. The film is highly episodic, but it works overall with many quirks along the way -- most notably a young woman who may or may not be possessed, plus a comeuppance for a would-be date rapist. The film also highlights quite well the subservient nature of women in the Israeli army.
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#9

Post by Fergenaprido »

sol wrote: April 1st, 2021, 9:25 am
Fergenaprido wrote: April 1st, 2021, 4:34 am I might be able to do the bonus challenge too, but I didn't realize Turkey and Cyprus was included so I have to go find a film for the latter. Also missing films for Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq, and UAE, but I'm not going to worry about hitting every country on the list.
There are films from the UAE currently streaming on Netflix (AU) and films from Cyprus streaming on Prime (AU). That said, I'm in two minds about including them in the bonus challenge. I thought it would be a bit too easy if I made the bonus challenge just the three biggest film producers (Israel, Turkey, Egypt) so I looked up the rest of the regions, and the UAE and Cyprus both trump Lebanon in terms of number of titles listed, so it would seem weird to include Lebanon in the bonus challenge but not those two regions. Likewise, I thought about including Palestine, but the region actually has less than half the number of productions of Lebanon.

The biggest issue with Cyprus is that most of its ~1800 productions have very few votes are therefore probably aren't easy to track down (though I do own one on DVD). As for the UAE, their number of international co-productions are through the roof. Actual UAE films by UAE filmmakers might be smaller than Palestine, but there is no way of knowing without interrogation the data further and I don't have unlimited spare time to do so.

Still, I don't think it's bad to challenge folks to track a UAE or Cypriot film down and expand their horizons.
Yeah, no worries. I've actually seen two UAE films in the past (and true UAE films, not just co-productions), so it's not a priority for me. Haven't seen a Cypriot film yet, though, so I'll try to get to it. I don't have Prime, and there don't appear to be any Cypriot films on Netflix (CA), but I have some bookmarked elsewhere. :thumbsup:
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#10

Post by sol »

Middle Eastern Promises
1. The Farewell Party (2014) Israel
2. Zero Motivation (2014) Israel
3. Can't Complain (2007) Egypt

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Or Satisfied Like This as it is sometimes known, this Egyptian comedy focuses on identical triplets raised by their father to act as one person in public. The initial stages of the film are very funny as we watch the brothers con and swindle everyone around them, cheating at races, making bartenders think they are seeing double/triple and so on. As the film wears on though, things become less fun and more serious, and then weirdly thriller-like at the end.
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#11

Post by sol »

Middle Eastern Promises
1. The Farewell Party (2014) Israel
2. Zero Motivation (2014) Israel
3. Can't Complain (2007) Egypt
4. Savage Raghda (2018) Egypt

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Egypt's answer to Tootsie, this comedy involves a male makeup artist who becomes a television superstar in drag and befriends a young woman as both himself and his female persona. Ramez Galal does well playing both sides to his character, but he is a pretty obnoxious individual with the film largely built on a courtship he develops based on deception. The whole romance is really icky, but the rest of the film is okay and his hotheaded neighbour is very funny.
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#12

Post by flavo5000 »

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1. Homoti (Turkey, 1987)

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2. Who Breaks... Pays (Turkey, 1975)
Spoiler
1. Homoti (Turkey, 1987)
2. Who Breaks... Pays (Turkey, 1975)
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#13

Post by DudeLanez »

1. Sallah Shabati (1964, 100 checks) 5/10 Israel
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#14

Post by sol »

Middle Eastern Promises
1. The Farewell Party (2014) Israel
2. Zero Motivation (2014) Israel
3. Can't Complain (2007) Egypt
4. Savage Raghda (2018) Egypt
5. 1000 Mabrouk (2009) Egypt

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Best thought of as Egypt's answer to Groundhog Day, this time loop comedy focuses on an arrogant groom gradually humbled by a time loop on his wedding day. There are some very funny moments as he manages to predict certain events and conversations. The film takes a bit too long to get going though (it is over 28 minutes before the day repeats) and much of the toilet humour falls flat - especially a running gag with a masseuse who refuses to wash his hands.
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#15

Post by sol »

Middle Eastern Promises
1. The Farewell Party (2014) Israel
2. Zero Motivation (2014) Israel
3. Can't Complain (2007) Egypt
4. Savage Raghda (2018) Egypt
5. 1000 Mabrouk (2009) Egypt
6. Very Big Shot (2015) Lebanon

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A Lebanese drug smuggler sets about making a movie as a front in this crime drama with shades of Argo. Whereas Argo was always quite serious though, this effort gradually becomes more of a comedy as the baker starts to enjoying filming and gaining media attention from the production. There are also some great bits in which they decide to film improv style and lose track of whether the actors in shot are paid extras or ordinary street folk.
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#16

Post by sol »

OP updated. B) First pie chart:

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#17

Post by ororama »

1. Warda (2014) * 73 min.  Egypt
2. Grandmother's Farm (2013) * 71 min. United Arab Emirates

Warda is a version of Paranormal Activity with demonic possession but not enough scares. Grandmother's Farm is apparently supposed to be a horror comedy, but it has no laughs and its horror makes Warda look like The Exorcist.

*First time viewing.
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#18

Post by AB537 »

1. West Beyrouth (À l'abri les enfants) - West Beirut (Ziad Doueiri, 1998) 7.5/10 ... Lebanon
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#19

Post by sol »

Middle Eastern Promises
1. The Farewell Party (2014) Israel
2. Zero Motivation (2014) Israel
3. Can't Complain (2007) Egypt
4. Savage Raghda (2018) Egypt
5. 1000 Mabrouk (2009) Egypt
6. Very Big Shot (2015) Lebanon
7. Kalek Shanab (2019) UAE

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The UAE's answer to The Hangover, this has three friends wake up in strange places after an evening of heavy drinking with no memory of what transpired. The whole thing is very goofy and undeniably amusing with great chemistry between the leads and lot of rubbery facial reactions, however, the movie never quite captures what made The Hangover a hit. The mystery is not central here, and there is none of the friends slowly piecing everything together.
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#20

Post by Mario Gaborović »

01. The Ghost of Peter Sellers (2018) - Cyprus
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#21

Post by sol »

Middle Eastern Promises
1. The Farewell Party (2014) Israel
2. Zero Motivation (2014) Israel
3. Can't Complain (2007) Egypt
4. Savage Raghda (2018) Egypt
5. 1000 Mabrouk (2009) Egypt
6. Very Big Shot (2015) Lebanon
7. Kalek Shanab (2019) UAE
8. Hey There! (2021) Turkey

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Two men try to scam unsuspecting folks by hacking into their computers and issuing fines in this unusual Turkish movie. Filmed under quarantine conditions, this almost entirely consists of laptop screens with a neat Kafkaesque vibe as all of their potential victims trying to work out what their crimes are. The whole thing feels stretched thin at 80+ minutes though with conversations that feel repetitive and several sequences of dancing and listening to music.
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#22

Post by sol »

Middle Eastern Promises
1. The Farewell Party (2014) Israel
2. Zero Motivation (2014) Israel
3. Can't Complain (2007) Egypt
4. Savage Raghda (2018) Egypt
5. 1000 Mabrouk (2009) Egypt
6. Very Big Shot (2015) Lebanon
7. Kalek Shanab (2019) UAE
8. Hey There! (2021) Turkey
9. In Paradox (2019) Kuwait

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The plot is hardly straightforward here ass the protagonist encounters various shady characters while getting lost among the labyrinthine ancient buildings of Kuwait. In terms of mood, this makes for an arresting watch, with meetings in dark, candlelit rooms and a creepiness to all the ancient architecture. As a narrative though, the results are less satisfying. The film feels like a Lynch or Nolan aspirant for the most part, but the resolution was a bit 'eh'.
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#23

Post by flavo5000 »

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3. Anayurt Oteli a.k.a. Motherland Hotel (Turkey, 1987)
Spoiler
1. Homoti (Turkey, 1987)
2. Who Breaks... Pays (Turkey, 1975)
3. Anayurt Oteli a.k.a. Motherland Hotel (Turkey, 1987)
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#24

Post by Mario Gaborović »

02. Bilal: A New Breed of Hero (2015) - United Arab Emirates

Spoiler
01. The Ghost of Peter Sellers (2018) - Cyprus
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#25

Post by sol »

Middle Eastern Promises
1. The Farewell Party (2014) Israel
2. Zero Motivation (2014) Israel
3. Can't Complain (2007) Egypt
4. Savage Raghda (2018) Egypt
5. 1000 Mabrouk (2009) Egypt
6. Very Big Shot (2015) Lebanon
7. Kalek Shanab (2019) UAE
8. Hey There! (2021) Turkey
9. In Paradox (2019) Kuwait
10. Zaki Chan (2005) Egypt

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Thinking that all it takes is dark glasses and a suit, an unemployed martial arts fan cons his way into being hiring as a bodyguard in this Egyptian comedy that is never quite as funny as it sounds. The pacing is a bit off with over half an hour elapsing before he even gets his job interview and while some of the initial madness is amusing as the teen daughter who he is hired to protect does not want a thing to do with him, the comedic shenanigans soon dry up.
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#26

Post by sol »

OP updated. Pie chart update too. Great to see such country diversity so far. B)

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#27

Post by vortexsurfer »

1. Ha-Mangalistim/The Barbecue People (Yossi Madmoni & David Ofek, 2003) Israel - 7/10
2. Capharnaüm (Nadine Labaki, 2018) Lebanon - 8/10
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#28

Post by Armoreska »

that single-speed rule is oppressive!

1. Watani: My Homeland (2016) - Syria + Europe - long version is the one available
OSCAR nominee
Last edited by Armoreska on April 7th, 2021, 10:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
he or A. or Armo or any

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currently working towards a vegan/free world + thru such film lists: GODARD, r/antinatalism recommends,..
the rest
ANARCHISTS, ANIMAL RIGHTS, Assisted suicide, Existential films, SOCIALIST CINEMA (an amalgamation of lists), Feminist lists, various GSSRM lists (aka LGBTQ+), 2010s bests, Visual Effects nominees, kid-related stuff, great animes (mini-serie or feature), very 80s movies, mah huge sci-fi list, ENVIRO, remarkable Silent Films and Pre-Code (exploring 1925 atm) and every shorts and docu list I'm aware of and
/forum.icmforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1434
and "Gordon" Liu Chia-Hui/Liu Chia-Liang and Yuen Woo-ping and "Sammo" Hung Kam-bo
imaginary awards | youtube channels | complaint lounge | explain how big a fan of slavery you are here, ..viewtopic.php?f=12&t=1535 and here: ..viewtopic.php?f=12&t=4484
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#29

Post by DudeLanez »

2. Al-mummia (1969, 324 checks) 7/10 Egypt
Spoiler
1. Sallah Shabati (1964, 100 checks) 5/10 Israel
2. Al-mummia (1969, 324 checks) 7/10 Egypt
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#30

Post by AB537 »

2. Iskanderija... lih? - Alexandria ... Why? (Youssef Chahine, 1979) 6.5/10 ... Egypt
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#31

Post by jdidaco »

Thank you for hosting, sol!

(Screenshots from 'Leila wa al ziap', 'Martyr' & 'El-Fallâh el-fasîh'),

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1. Nagu'a (Drifting, Amos Guttman, 1982) 8.5/10 (Israel)
2. Leila wa al ziap (Leila and the Wolves, Heiny Srour, 1984) 9/10 (Lebanon)
3. Ha'Meshotet (The Wanderer, Avishai Sivan, 2010) 7/10 (Israel)
4. Martyr (Mazen Khaled, 2017) 7.5/10 (Lebanon)

ImageImage

A collection of shorts,

5-6. El-Fallâh el-fasîh (The Eloquent Peasant, Chadi Abdel Salam, 1970) 9.5/10 (21 min) (Egypt) (RV), Afâq (Horizons, Chadi Abdel Salam, 1972) 8/10 (39 min) (Egypt), Gîyoush el shams (Armies of the Sun, Chadi Abdel Salam, 1974) 9/10 (39 min) (Egypt), Tahtaci Fatma (Fatma of the Forest, Suha Arin, 1979) 8.5/10 (28 min) (Turkey), Gulyabani (Gürcan Keltek, 2018) 8.5/10 (34 min) (Turkey) (Total: 161 min)

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#32

Post by Bing147 »

2. Cairo Station (1958) Egypt
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#33

Post by sol »

Middle Eastern Promises
1. The Farewell Party (2014) Israel
2. Zero Motivation (2014) Israel
3. Can't Complain (2007) Egypt
4. Savage Raghda (2018) Egypt
5. 1000 Mabrouk (2009) Egypt
6. Very Big Shot (2015) Lebanon
7. Kalek Shanab (2019) UAE
8. Hey There! (2021) Turkey
9. In Paradox (2019) Kuwait
10. Zaki Chan (2005) Egypt
11. Attila 74 (1975) Cyprus

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Returning to his native Cyprus, Zorba the Greek director Michael Cacoyannis looks at a then-recent coup by Turkish forces and the aftermath. Bits and pieces here stand out - notably, interviewed kids who show off their wounds and politicians who provide a contrast to the displaced civilians. Cinematically though, this does not have a lot of interest to it. There are odd bouts of grim, stringy music and some sweeping shots, but this is mostly interview footage.
Former IMDb message boards user // iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | My top 750 films // Long live the new flesh!
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sol
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#34

Post by sol »

OP updated. Here's a pie chart update, still with a pretty even spread among the four biggest players, though Egypt is starting to look dominant:

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Former IMDb message boards user // iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | My top 750 films // Long live the new flesh!
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flavo5000
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#35

Post by flavo5000 »

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4. Umut (Turkey, 1970)

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5. Zaytoun (Israel, 2012)

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6. Bilal: A New Breed of Hero (UAE, 2015)
Spoiler
1. Homoti (Turkey, 1987)
2. Who Breaks... Pays (Turkey, 1975)
3. Anayurt Oteli a.k.a. Motherland Hotel (Turkey, 1987)
4. Umut (Turkey, 1970)
5. Zaytoun (Israel, 2012)
6. Bilal: A New Breed of Hero (UAE, 2015)
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beavis
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#36

Post by beavis »

Even though i'll be watching a lot of middle eastern films this month, i'm not doing this challenge. But i wanted to give a shoutout to this very good film from Yemen I saw this evening: https://www.icheckmovies.com/movies/ana ... motalagah/
Recommend!!

Some interesting background on it: http://www.france24.com/en/20150610-yem ... 0-divorced
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Mario Gaborović
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#37

Post by Mario Gaborović »

beavis wrote: April 6th, 2021, 5:12 pm
i'm not doing this challenge. But i wanted to give a shoutout to this very good film from Yemen I saw this evening: https://www.icheckmovies.com/movies/ana ... motalagah/
Recommend!!

Some interesting background on it: http://www.france24.com/en/20150610-yem ... 0-divorced
If you post it as your single entry, Yemen will finally made the pie chart. Alas! Why Beavis? :mw_confused:
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beavis
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#38

Post by beavis »

i can only focus on posting in one thread regularly, otherwise it feels like a pressure and work instead of something i can use to motivate myself.
.... and there is not a single competitive bone in my body :)
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Lilarcor
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#39

Post by Lilarcor »

1. Bas ya Bahar / The Cruel Sea (Khalid AL-Siddiq, 1972) [Kuwait]

This melodrama about the dangers of the old labour of diving for pearls is in some sense a piece of history writing which makes the then new industry of oil come across as at least less up to the mercy of the environment. Unlike oil which always flows, looking for pearls as a way of living was one of risking the elements for uncertain profit, as it was a never-ending labour of "prospecting". Yet, filmmaker and auteur Khalid AL-Siddiq presents pearls as an old fuel in the sense of the dependecy on it for a past society: the dangerous four months the men spend at sea looking for pearls either made or broke the society at the shore. Through the story of a son seeking the riches of pearls in order to pay the dowry in order to marry his love Nura, we are shown a society too dependent on one industry, promoting rigid and unsustainable class structures, which can only end in tragedy for the lower class. In this reading, Al-Siddiq is perhaps presenting here a warning to his country in the midst of its golden age driven solely by oil.

It's a visually inventive and complex film, featuring impressive underwater scenes and with a deft use of rapid editing. It's a real shame that the available copies are so poor. As a fine first film from Kuwait with a "new wave" spirit (pun intended), it would be a prime candidate for restoration through the World Cinema Project.

Fun musical connection: the film ends on an eerie sample of Delia Derbyshire's 1968 track Pot Au Feu, one of the most influential electronic music composers of her time and the maker of the memorable original Doctor Who theme. The track Pot Au Feu was also sampled in a similar way in the opening of Danny Brown's 2016 track When It Rain.
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#40

Post by Bing147 »

3. Climates (2006) Turkey
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