Bird’s Eye View Film Festival Celebrates Arabic Female Filmmakers And This Makes Me Very Happy

Films are incredibly good at making the political personal – from Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis to Vice Film’s Heavy Metal In Baghdad, they help us connect and this is even more vital for women who are so often silenced.
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Films are incredibly good at making the political personal – from Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis to Vice Film’s Heavy Metal In Baghdad, they help us connect and this is even more vital for women who are so often silenced.

I’m travelling to America soon and I am VERY excited about it (Detroit and NYC get ready!) BUT one reason I wish I was staying right here in London is because this is exactly when the amazing Bird’s Eye View film festival is happening and I am so sad to be missing it.

Because I can’t be there, I want to tell you all about it so you can go for me! (er, if you live in or are planning on travelling to London between the 3rd and 10th of April).

Last year due to funding cuts, there was no Bird’s Eye View festival, but this year it’s back THANK GOD and with even more of an exciting and important programme to share. 2013's festival is particularly close to my heart because it’s a celebration of Arabic female filmmakers (I am half Iraqi) and now, more than ever, their stories need to be heard.

Me at Iraq Day on the South Bank last summer

Me at Iraq Day on the South Bank last summer

Since the Arab spring began in December 2010, the Middle East and North Africa have been in turmoil and women have been playing their part in the revolutions and protests that have been taking place across the region.

Many of the films in the festival show the human face of this uprising – the personal sacrifices, tragedies and triumphs ordinary human beings are experiencing on a daily basis in Algeria, Egypt, Syria and beyond, making the stories we see on the news even more relatable.

Films are incredibly good at making the political personal – from Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis to Vice Film’s Heavy Metal In Baghdad, they help us connect and this is even more vital for women who are so often silenced. I hope to visit Iraq one day - until then, I'd like to see more films like Nadia Shihab's short, Amal's Garden, showing me the place I'm 'from' but have never been.

In The Shadow of a Man sees four women talking about what it means to be a woman in post-revolutionary Egypt, on Friday April 5 at BFI Southbank

In The Shadow of a Man sees four women talking about what it means to be a woman in post-revolutionary Egypt, on Friday April 5 at BFI Southbank

There will be screenings of features, documentaries and short films plus panel discussions, exclusive director Q&As, music premieres, parties and all sorts of fun taking place at BFI Southbank, the Southbank Centre, the Barbican, the ICA and Hackney Picturehouse. Damn, I’m gutted I’m missing this.

BEV's Creative Director Kate Gerova said: "At a time when female Arab directors are making headlines at top international Film Festivals, we're thrilled to present this special programme and to represent women filmmakers from diverse backgrounds across the Middle East and North Africa... this is a vital opportunity for Birds Eye View to introduce UK audiences to important new talent, from finely crafted features to up-to-the-minute documentaries offering female insight into the recent dramatic changes in many Arab countries."

Habibi (Darling, Something’s Wrong With Your Head), the first feature film set in Gaza for 15 years and a Middle Eastern take on the Romeo and Juliet story, will close the festival on April 10 at BFI Soutbank

Habibi (Darling, Something’s Wrong With Your Head), the first feature film set in Gaza for 15 years and a Middle Eastern take on the Romeo and Juliet story, will close the festival on April 10 at BFI Soutbank

One event I’m particularly annoyed to be missing is Fashion Loves Film: Arab Fashion Past & Present which takes place on Tuesday 9 April at 6.30pm at the ICA. I love a bit of fashion film (just watched the Bill Cunningham documentary which was fantastic – you must see it!) and when the spotlight is turned on Middle Eastern style, with archive footage and discussions on trends and all that jazz, well, it doesn’t get much better.

Bird’s Eye View was founded in 2002 as a positive response to the fact that women make up less that 10% of film directions. It held the London premier of Lena Dunham’s debut, Tiny Furniture, and has become globally recognised as a force for good in the ongoing struggle to support women working in film. Basically it’s a Bloody Good Thing and you can find out about how to support what they’re doing here.

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The Bird's Eye View film festival runs from 3 - 10 April, for more information visit birds-eye-view.co.uk