FSU Middle East Center celebrates 15th annual film festival

The 15th annual Middle East Film Festival will feature four film screenings each Thursday from Feb. 1 through Feb. 22.
The 15th annual Middle East Film Festival will feature four film screenings each Thursday from Feb. 1 through Feb. 22.

Florida State University’s Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics and the FSU Middle East Center present the 15th annual Middle East Film Festival, providing insight into international cinema and sharing perspectives rarely seen in mainstream media.

The festival, co-sponsored by the FSU Middle East Center and FSU Student Life Cinema (SLC), will feature four film screenings each Thursday over four weeks beginning Feb. 1 at the SLC on FSU’s main campus. All screenings are free and open to the public.

  • Feb. 1: “Souad” (Egypt), 6 p.m., directed by Ayten Amin
  • Feb. 8: “Cinema Sabaya” (Israel), 6:30 p.m., directed by Orit Fouks Rotem
  • Feb. 15: “Hit the Road” (Iran), 6:30 p.m., directed by Panah Panahi
  • Feb. 22: “The Stranger” (Palestine), 6:30 p.m., directed by Ameer Fakher Eldin

“Since its inception, the Middle East Film Festival has aimed to present films that spark discussion between family, friends and colleagues about experiences outside their own perspectives,” said Zeina Schlenoff, director of the FSU Middle East Center. “We choose films that help our audience make sense of a world that is unfamiliar to them, to raise awareness and inspire social change.”

Schlenoff, who has been at the helm of the festival since its establishment in 2009, hopes the exposure to these lesser-known films will encourage meaningful conversation among members of the FSU community.

“We select films that represent a broad perspective on the socio-political realities of the recent Middle East,” Schlenoff said. “We hope that they become a subject of discussion among our viewers and stimulate reflection on many themes that are new to them.”

Several organizations and members of the FSU community, as well as the larger Tallahassee community, will join in the film festival. The FSU Belly Dancers will perform at the opening ceremony, along with a vocal performance presented by the Lebanese Social Organization at FSU. Hillel at FSU is co-sponsoring the showing of “Cinema Sabaya” on Feb. 8. As in previous years, the local Sweet Shop will cater food for the kickoff celebration.

Now in its 15th year, the event plays an important role in promoting international education and programs at FSU.

“The festival provides an opportunity to highlight the Middle Eastern Studies program at FSU and to promote an environment for students and members of the community to develop a deeper understanding of the Middle East,” Schlenoff said. “It is also a reflection of the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics and the Middle East Center’s missions and commitment to international education.”

The public is invited to the festival’s kickoff celebration following the 6 p.m. viewing of “Souad” on Thursday, Feb. 1, at the SLC. The festival will conclude on Feb. 22 with a closing ceremony following the 6:30 p.m. showing of “The Stranger.”

For more information about this year’s film festival, visit mec.fsu.edu or the center’s Facebook page.