This year’s Seattle International Film Festival features an outstanding array of films from and about the Arab world and Iran. The list includes a rare 35mm screening of Shadi Abdel Salam’s 1969 masterpeice “The Night of Counting the Years.” 

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The Hunter
June 1, 6:30pm, Admiral Theatre
June 3, 4:00pm, Egyptian Theatre
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Director is scheduled to attend screenings.

Recently released from prison, Ali wants only to spend as much time as possible with his wife and their young daughter. One day, he returns home to discover that they have disappeared. Set during the countdown to Iran’s 2009 presidential elections, The Hunter is part thriller, part poetic ethical drama. (dir. Rafi Pitts, Iran/Germany 2010, 92 min)

June 12, 3:30pm, Kirkland Performance Center
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On the periphery of a remote, archaic Turkish village, a mysterious stranger apparently materializes out of the snowy landscape just in time to save a small boy from drowning. But is he a miracle-worker? A thief? A lunatic? Whatever the case, village life will never be the same. (dir. Reha Erdem, Turkey/Bulgaria 2009, 122 min)

The White Meadows
June 2, 7:00pm, Egyptian Theatre
June 4, 6:00pm, Kirkland Performance Center
June 8, 4:30pm, Neptune Theatre
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Shot around the haunting salt formations of Iran’s Lake Urmia, this gorgeously wrought fable follows a quiet man as he travels to remote islands collecting the tears of the grief-stricken. Director Rasoulof wasarrested in 2010 for making this poignant critique of oppression. Amazing cinematography, unlikely landscapes, and a fast enough pace to keep you watching until the last surprising scene. Co-presented with The Global Film Initiative. (dir. Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran 2009, 93 min)

The Majority
May 31, 7:00pm, Pacific Place
June 1, 4:30pm, Pacific Place
June 11, 3:30pm, Kirkland Performance Center
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Mertkan is an apathetic 21-year-old, conditioned to be passive in response to his domineering father.But one night he meets Gül, a young Kurdish girl determined to build a life of her own. The relationship could open up a new path for Mertkan -if he can only find the wherewithal to take it. (dir. Seren Yüce, Turkey 2010, 102 min)

Grandma, A Thousand Times
June 2, 4:30pm, SIFF Cinema
June 10, 5:00pm, Kirkland Performance Center
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Teta Kaabour is an 83-year-old familymatriarch, the sharp-witted queen bee of an old Beiruti quarter, and a feisty, larger-than-life character. She’s also the grandmother of filmmaker Mahmoud Kaabour, and Grandma, A Thousand Times is his poetic cinematic tribute. (dir. Mahmoud Kaabour, United Arab Emirates/Qatar/Lebanon 2010, 48 min)

A Few Days of Respite
June 2, 8:30pm, Admiral Theatre
June 4, 11:00am, Egyptian Theatre
June 11, 6:00pm, Kirkland Performance Center
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Mohsen, a French professor, and his male lover Hassan, flee to France from Iran, where their relationship means death. Reaching their destination, they meet Yolanda (French star Marina Vlady) who offers Mohsen employment, kindness, and security, in a story of fear, love, and compassion. (dir. Amor Hakkar, Algeria/France 2011, 80 min)

The Thief of Bagdad: Re-imagined by Shadoe Stevens
May 26, 7:00pm, Neptune Theatre
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Radio broadcast legend Shadoe Stevens’ lifelong passion has been to provide Douglas Fairbanks’ fantastical 1924 silent film with the ultimate rock soundtrack. But it was only when he started using music from the Electric Light Orchestra that he discovered a surprisingly perfect symmetry between subject and song. (dir. Raoul Walsh, USA 1924, 155 min)

May 23, 7:00pm, Harvard Exit
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The final installment in the ‘Yusuf’ trilogy, following Egg and Milk. Six-year old Yusuf’s life is turned upside down when his honey-gatherer father dies in a freak accident, in this gently engrossing meditation on life and loss viewed through the prism of a child’s eyes. (dir. Semih Kaplanoglu, Turkey/Germany 2010, 108 min)

12 Angry Lebanese: The Documentary
June 4, 1:00pm, Harvard Exit
June 12, 7:00pm, Egyptian Theatre
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For 15 months, 45 inmates in a notorious Lebanese prison worked together to present an adaptation of 12 Angry Men. This Audience Award-winning, inspiring, affecting documentary demonstrates the efficacy of drama therapy and its positive effects on some of society’s most ostracized individuals. (dir. Zeina Daccache, Lebanon 2010, 78 min)

June 4, 6:30pm, Harvard Exit
June 6, 4:15pm, Egyptian Theatre
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This debut feature—winner of a Sundance Film Festival Audience Award—is an exhilarating political drama and love story about a burgeoning romance between two young Iranian women and the fraught allegiances of a single Tehrani family. (dir. Maryam Keshavarz, Iran/Lebanon 2011, 107 min)

June 6, 9:30pm, SIFF Cinema
June 8, 9:30pm, SIFF Cinema
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An unhappy family in modern Baghdad starts to fall apart under the stress of their unwelcome and dangerous houseguest—a nameless hitman with a mysterious agenda. A startling, strangely beautiful look at a post-Iraq-war family unit that must choose between bonding or breaking. North American Premiere (dir. Oday Rasheed, Iraq/Germany 2010, 88 min)

My So-Called Enemy
June 5,6:30PM, Harvard Exit
June 6, 4:30pm, Harvard Exit
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When six Palestinian and Israeli teenagers travel to the United States to participate in a women’s leadership program called Building Bridges for Peace, they find the experience complicates their lives for years to come, and the challenges that arise from knowing your “enemy.” (dir. Lisa Gossels, USA 2010, 89 min)

The Green Wave
June 5, 4:00 PM, Harvard Exit
June 6, 7:00 PM, Harvard Exit
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An unblinking, clear-eyed documentary that manages to capture the outrage, sadness, and fear following the 2009 Iranian elections. Part documentary, part animation, THE GREEN WAVE covers those chaotic and disturbing days and gives us an idea of what happened when the cameras stopped rolling. (dir. Ali Samadi Ahadi, Germany/Iran 2010, 80 min)

June 8, 7:00 PM, Egyptian Theatre
June 10, 4:00 PM, SIFF Cinema
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Six-year-old Cenk Yilmaz is having an identity crisis. Teased for being neither German nor Turkish, he wants answers. Posing the question, “Are we Germans or Turks?” to his extended family, Almanya launches into a familial odyssey that explores the lives of Cenk’s family as they journey to rediscover their heritage. North American Premiere (dir. Yasemin Samdereli, Germany 2011, 97 min)

The Night Of Counting The Years
May 31, 7:00 PM, SIFF Cinema
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Universally recognized as one of the greatest Egyptian films ever made, The Night of Counting the Years is based on a true story: the looting of a legendary cache of royal mummies by ancient tribes people. This classic film’s poetic beauty has been restored by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation. (dir. Shadi Abdel Salam, Egypt 1969, 103 min)

Outside The Law
May 25, 9:00 PM, Admiral Theatre
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Three Algerian brothers become enmeshed in the decades-long struggle for their native country’s independence from France, which itself only recently emerged from Nazi occupation. This multi-layered family saga is a potent comment on the moral ambiguities of war and the expediency of political repression. An Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film. (dir. Rachid Bouchareb, Algeria/France/Tunisia/Italy/Belgium 2010, 138 min)

May 23, 9:30 PM, Harvard Exit
May 24, 4:00 PM, Harvard Exit
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A bold example of new North African cinema, Microphone mixes and remixes fiction and cinema VERITÉ as it follows an Egyptian expatriate’s return to Alexandria, where he dives into the thriving underground music and arts scene of a city he had almost given up on. (dir. Ahmad Abdalla, Egypt 2010, 116 min)


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