OPENNING FILM OF THE 37TH EDITION

Advance screening at the

Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, March 18 at 7 pm.


Montreal, Tuesday, February 5, 2019 – The International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) is happy to announce that Au temps où les Arabes dansaient (When Arabs Danced), directed by Jawad Rhalib, has been chosen to open its 37th edition, which will take place in Montreal from March 20 to 31, and in Québec City from March 19 to 24. Winner of the Sesterce d’argent Audience Award and Best Film (Grand Angle category) at the Visions du Réel Festival in Nyon, Switzerland, and of the Grand Prize (Films on Art) at the latest edition of the Brussels Art Film Festival, this striking Belgian production will be presented in Montreal on Tuesday, March 19 at 7:30 pm at the Monument- National as well as at a special advance screening on Monday, March 18 in Quebec City, at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) at 7 pm. The director is making a special trip from Brussels to attend the Festival’s pre-opening and opening ceremonies.



“When FIFA invited me, I didn’t hesitate for a second,” says Jawad Rhalib.  “To be chosen for the pre-opening and opening ceremonies for the 37th edition of FIFA in Quebec City and Montreal is an honour for me and the whole team, and it is wonderful exposure not only for our film, but for artists everywhere whom fundamentalist movements wish to silence. To be part of the world’s largest festival of films on art is an opportunity to share our message of hope and tolerance. Let art shine around the world! Let art triumph over obscurantism!”

Taking as its starting point the worldwide controversy provoked by the stage adaptation of Michel Houellebecq’s incendiary novel, Soumission, When Arabs Danced offers an enlightened look at the fights waged by artists of all genders in societies, battling religious fundamentalism.  The film explores Arab-Muslim culture and its historically rich worlds of literature, cinema, dance, and music, from the 1950s through the 1970s, notably in Egypt, under the Nasser government. It is a deep and timely reflection on the complex issues facing multicultural Western societies, already grappling with religious rigidity and the resurgence of taboos. In profiling artists who challenge theocratic conservatism and the influence of Salafism in many Muslim societies., Rhalib denounces, with wry humour, the rise of fundamentalism, here and elsewhere, and its attempts to censor the voices of artists who refuse to acquiesce. Based on his own childhood memories, archival footage documenting the golden age of Middle Eastern dance, and contemporary interviews with cultural figures, the film is a vibrant plea for liberty in all its forms : freedom of bodily expression, freedom of speech, freedom to enjoy life, and even people’s freedom to dress as they choose.
 

About the film

AU TEMPS OÙ LES ARABES DANSAIENT (When Arabs Danced) by Jawad Rhalib
Belgium / 2018 / 83min / Arabic, French, Dutch, English, and Farsi S.T. french

Au temps où les Arabes dansaient offers an enlightened look at the fights waged by artists of all genders in societies, battling religious fundamentalism. The film explores Arab-Muslim culture and its historically rich worlds of literature, cinema, dance, and music, from the 1950s through the 1970s, notably in Egypt, under the Nasser government. It is a deep and timely reflection on the complex issues facing multicultural Western societies. Based on his own childhood memories, archival footage documenting the golden age of Middle Eastern dance, and contemporary interviews with cultural figures, the film is a vibrant plea for liberty. 
 

Jawad Rhalib Biography 


The Belgian-Moroccan writer and filmmaker Jawad Rhalib is focused on questions of social realism. He has written and directed fictional films of varying lengths as well as feature-length documentaries. Notable works include the full-length documentaries El Ejido, la Loi du Profit (The Law of Profit), Les Damnés de la Mer (The Damned of the Sea), and Le Chant des Tortues (Turtles' Song) and the feature-length fictional films 7, rue de la  Folie (Madness) and Insoumise (Rebellious Girl).
 

Screening schedule and ticket information

Advance screening at MNBAQ, Quebec City: Monday, March 18 at 7 pm | Buy a ticket
Opening night at Monument National, Montreal: Tuesday, March 19 at 7:30 pm | Buy a ticket

The presentation of this film at the 37th edition of FIFA is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Délégation générale Wallonie-Bruxelles au Québec.

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The 37th edition of the Festival will take place from March 19 to 31, in the following venues: Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ), Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), Cinéma du Musée (MMFA),   McCord Museum, De Sève Cinema (Concordia University), along with Cinéma Cineplex Odéon Quartier Latin.