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Karama film festival asks: ‘Are you a human being?’

Artists confronted with new reality as irrational wars become ‘continuous journeys’

By Suzanna Goussous - Dec 07,2016 - Last updated at Dec 07,2016

A still from Egyptian film ‘Clash’, which was screened at the opening of the Karama Human Rights Film Festival (Photo courtesy of Sampek Productions/Acamedia Pictures/NiKo Film)

AMMAN — The aftermath of wars and conflicts turns human beings with names and identities into numbers in newspapers, organisers said at the opening of the seventh Karama Human Rights Film Festival on Tuesday. 

As the death toll of each war increases, however, humans are still capable of maintaining their dignity and self-respect, they added.

Celebrating art as a method to help individuals find their own identities, the festival raises the question of “Are you a human being?” 

The festival is funded by the EU and is supported by the European Union National Institute of Culture, Goethe Institut, the Danish Arab Programme, and the embassies of the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Director Sawsan Darwaza said that in light of the “surrealist circumstances”, actors, directors and artists as citizens of Jordan and the world, find themselves responsible for questioning human-related issues in terms of wars and conflicts.

“We [aim] to question basic human values… Is this social justice? Is it real? Are those limits? Everything is allowed, everything is possible. This ongoing reality twisted all our realities and truths; the irrational wars we used to refuse are now continuous journeys,” she said.

During the opening ceremony, which featured the screening of Jordanian short film “Surprise” Egyptian feature “Clash”, film coordinator Omar Tarawneh said that “humans must raise their sense of responsibility towards their own being and towards all other [individuals] who share the same planet”.

Royal Cultural Centre Director Mohammad Abu Summaqa, deputising for the minister of culture, said art is an essential component of human civilisation, as it stimulates the thoughts of human beings, brings people together, and spreads the spirit of love and peace.

“We believe that artistic and cultural productions are a right for every human. The message of art and culture does not stop at the edge of creativity and beauty, but it extends to all its forms such as theatre, cinema, music and literary arts,” Abu Summaqa added.

Ehab Khatib, the festival’s artistic director, said Karama receives around 600 films every year from which film screenings are selected based on the selected theme.

Egyptian actor Tarek Abdel Aziz said the festival promotes human values, women’s and children’s rights, and it is important for every Arab citizen to acknowledge the importance of films that discuss key problems.

“Clash” narrates the story of detainees from various political and social backgrounds who are brought together after the ouster of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.

Films from around the world will be screened throughout the five-day event at the Royal Cultural Centre, with some screenings taking place in Irbid, in addition to schools and universities in the Kingdom, according to organisers.

The films to be screened throughout the festival are from Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Iran, France, Brazil, Cuba, Germany, Uruguay, Spain, Russia, Afghanistan, Croatia, Turkey, South Africa, Ecuador, Finland, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden and Poland.

The festival includes meetings with directors and actors from across the world to discuss cinema and films with the aim of founding a “forum for Arab cinema”, in addition to musical shows and workshops that promote the art scene in Jordan and the region.

More information on the film festival is available on the official website: www.karamafestival.org, or via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/KaramaFilmFestival.

The festival concludes with a screening of internationally acclaimed Jordanian film “3000 Nights”, which is Jordan’s official submission to the Academy Awards.

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