Category: Film

Middle East Now festival

Middle East Now is back in Florence from April 4 to April 9 2017, with 44 films and a full program of events, special projects, talks and meetings. Cinema wise, Syria, the highlight of this edition, will be portrayed through multiple documentaries, short films, installations and talks, starting with the opening film-documentary “Last Men in Aleppo” by Feras Feyyad and Steen Johannessen, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the last Sundance Film Festival. The film programme also includes beautiful stories by female directors. To name a few: the Lebanese dark comedy “Solitaire” by Sophie Boutros, from Tunisia the beautiful feature film “Foreign Body” by Raja Amari, co-starring the great actress Hiam Abbass, and many more.

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Documentary Film ‘4.1 Miles’ Shows the Rescue of Refugees at Sea off the Greek Island of Lesbos

Documentary filmmaker Daphne Matziaraki followed a Greek Coast Guard Captain for 3 weeks as he and his team rescued refugees from the sea off the Greek Island of Lesbos, 4.1 miles from the Turkish coast. Her documentary short film was nominated for a 2017 Academy Award.

“When I returned home to Greece last fall to make a film about the refugee crisis, I discovered a situation I had never imagined possible. The turquoise sea that surrounds the beautiful Greek island of Lesbos, just 4.1 miles from the Turkish coast, is these days a deadly gantlet, choked with terrified adults and small children on flimsy, dangerous boats. I had never seen people escaping war before, and neither had the island’s residents. I couldn’t believe there was no support for these families to safely escape whatever conflict had caused them to flee. The scene was haunting.”

Read the full story at The New York Times here

Find out more about LPD Dialogues on Immigration here

Issa Touma wins the British Film Institute Award for Best Short Film

Congratulations to Syrian photographer Issa Touma for winning the British Film Institute’s 2016 Award for Best Short Film for his ‘9 Days – From My Window in Aleppo’. The film chronicles the start of the Syrian uprising in the city of Aleppo. Entirely shot from his bedroom window over the course of nine days, he presents an unparalleled, unprecedented angle of this war.

Jury president Mat Kirkby said: “Not only does his documentary show what one person, one camera and a restricted view of an alleyway can do to reveal something as complex, confusing, and terrifying as a civil war, but also it demonstrates the power of film to reach the wider world, and make those of us more fortunate re-assess the freedom we take for granted.”

The film has just recently received a nomination for a European Film Award. 

Check out the film’s trailer here:

Touma joined us for the Dialogue ‘Art in a War Zone: Everyday Life in Syria‘ in Fall 2015. Read this post about the Le Pont Organization, which Touma founded, by Yasmyn Camp (LPD ’15) ‘Art in a War Zone’ and this essay by Ismail Ibrahim (LPD ’15) ‘The Power of a Photo‘.  And you can see the video of Touma’s dialogue with us on the Dialogue page.

Congratulations Issa!

Diversity in the Film Industry

Italian Ghanaian director and activist Fred Kuwornu will come to Villa Sassetti at 6 p.m. on April 21 for the dialogue  “Diversity in the Film Industry,” part of the “Race, Racism and Xenophobia in a Global Context” series that NYU Florence is organizing this semester. Kuwornu will present his documentary “Blaxploitalian: 100 Years of Blackness in the Italian Cinema” (2016), which explores the careers of black actors in Italian film. The documentary’s website describes it as “a call-to-action for increased diversity” and more dignified roles for these actors. Read more

R2X Guest Spotlight #8: Misan Sagay

Misan Sagay is a British screenwriter whose credits include the screenplay for the ABC television movie based up Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, starring Halle Berry, and the 2013 film Belle. Sagay’s work on Belle won her the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture.

Belle is a period drama inspired by a painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle, a woman who was born to a slave mother and British naval officer father, and raised by her grand-uncle William Murray, First Earl of Mansfield.

Read a Huffington Post article Sagay wrote about the process of bringing Belle to the screen:

Read a Q&A on the film with Sagay and The Riveter’s Kaylen Ralph:


New York Filmmakers Hemmerdinger, De Mare, Kelly and Berry join us this week!

This week New York filmmakers Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, Anne De Mare, Kirsten Kelly and Laverne Berry are joining us to present award wining film The Homestretch, about the problem of youth homelessness, and works in progress including Dance with Me “a universal story of children struggling to be accepted for who they are, not for what they look like or what they cannot do as easily as their peers.”

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Award winning Chinese documentary filmmaker Zhu Rikun presents his film ‘Chen’ at Florence’s Festival dei Popoli December 4-5

The upcoming Festival dei Popoli will feature the film ‘Chen’ (translation: ‘Dust’), by award wining Chinese documentary filmmaker Zhu Rikun. The film explores the condition of Chinese workers in a Chinese mining and industrial zone. Mr. Rikun will be in Florence to present the film Thursday December 4 at 6.30 pm and Friday December 5 at 10.00 am at the Odeon Theater. See a synopsis of the film and read Rikun’s Director’s Note by clicking here. Read more

Jos De Putter: Filmmaker in Focus at Florence’s 2014 Festival dei Popoli in November

Festival dei Popoli, one of Italy’s most important documentary film festivals, which is held in Florence every year, will feature Dutch filmmaker Jos De Putter in the prestigious Retrospective section this Fall.

Jos de Putter is an award-winning Dutch director whose films span across the globe: from the “starlets” of football trying to emerge from the misery of the Brazilian favelas to teen-agers from around the world that compete in the Videogames World Championship in Seoul; from the memories of the survivors of Nagasaki to the Brooklyn baseball team that has never won a championship. De Putter chooses stories from real life and reveals their universal significance. From the Festival Dei Popoli website.

See a clip of his well regarded See No Evil, “a stunning fable that has as protagonists three monkeys who live together with men”.

About Festival Dei Popoli:

Founded in 1959 by a group of scholars in the humanities, anthropology, sociology, ethnology and mass-media studies, the Festival dei Popoli, a not-for-profit organization, has been active for over fifty years in the promotion and study of social documentary cinema.

The association works primarily to organize Italy’s leading International Documentary Film Festival in Florence. From 2008 to 2010 it has also held an edition in New York (NYDFF – New York Documentary Fim Festival). The Institute has created a vast network of collaborations for the diffusion of documentary culture in Italy and abroad.

Simultaneously, the Festival dei Popoli continues to conserve and digitalize its own Archives (which contains over 16,000 titles, from video to film) and make strides in film training, organizing courses and workshops for documentary filmmakers.

To learn more visit their website at:

Middle Eastern Now Film Festival: Best Short Film Announced

By Blair Simmons, NYU ’16

Last night, NYU students gathered at the Odeon Theatre in Florence, Italy as part of a select student jury for the annual Middle East Now Film Festival. After a long weekend of screenings and intense deliberation, where fingers were pointed, yelling was permitted and opinions were shot down, the jury came to an agreement just in time for Monday night. The jury leaders, Jim Carter and Alice Sholto-Duglas, announced that dialogue-free film, Condom Lead by Mohammed and Ahmad Abunasser, won the majority vote. The runners up were Children of God from Iraq and I Am Mermaid from Qatar. The festival, which continued through Monday, April 14th, is the only festival in Italy entirely dedicated to contemporary Middle East Movies, featuring the latest films from Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Afganistan, Syria, Bahrain, Algeria and Morocco. Showcasing a myriad of feature films, documentaries, animated films and shorts, the film festival was designed to underline the importance of the Middle East, a region that has been at the center of international media and politics in recent years.