about the festival
Save the Date!
The 19th Annual Arabian Sights Film Festival returns November 1 – November 9 with the best in contemporary cinema from all over the Arab world. Arabian Sights will present two jammed packed weekends of the newest and most captivating films of the year. See the updates on our Arabian Sights page as details become available.
And The 2014 Awards Go To...
Audience Award for Best Feature Film
Audience Award for Best Documentary
The 2014 Circle Award is presented to The Verdict (Belgium), directed by Jan Verheyen. This gripping and masterfully crafted film candidly examines the meaning and limits of justice in a democratic system alongside the complexity of the human experience and emotions. Throughout the film, the audience is compelled to watch on the edge of seats, drawn deeper and deeper into the story through the masterful use of all elements of filmmaking--from the script to acting, direction to cinematography.
The Circle Award jury presents a special Jury Award to the beautiful and touching film, Rock the Casbah. This film portrays with great skill and honesty the story of a family at one moment in time that also transcends both that time and place to become universal.
Busboys and Poets First Feature Award
The jury selected Harmony Lessons (Kazakhstan), directed by Emir Baigazin, for the sensible handling of current and universal issues in an unexpected environment while treating primal needs and emotions with great psychological awareness; for its stunning visuals; artistry, moments of irony, convincing performances from non-professional actors and a sureness of direction never underestimating the intelligence of the audience.
CrossCurrents Foundation Justice Matters Award
Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine (USA), directed by Connie Fields, illustrates the transformative power of art and how it can move us towards understanding. We see the gradual evolution of all the people involved, through tension, conflict, tragedy and the development of true empathy. It is very rare to see this kind of process on film. An extraordinary showcase for non-violent resistance as a means of change, this film is a true testament to leaders from Dr King to Gandhi, and an example of how their work can live on.
The SIGNIS Prize at Filmfest DC 2014 goes to Rock the Casbah, (Morocco/France) directed by Laila Marrakchi, for its morally complex and deeply human depiction of intra-familial tensions. In this film from Morocco, the funeral of a family patriarch launches a multi-layered exploration of family dynamics, leading his survivors to uncover family secrets that threaten to destroy their strained harmony. Excellent scripting, cinematography, and acting lead us through the experience of honestly confronting the past, leading to new possibilities of acceptance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
SIGNIS gives a special commendation to Siddarth. In this India-Canada coproduction, written and directed by Richie Mehta, a father struggling with the pressures of extreme poverty in New Delhi sends his 12-year-old son to a distant city to work for a month, only to have him disappear, perhaps into the shadowy world of human trafficking. Against this background, the cinematic portrayal of his desperate search to find the boy provides a visceral experience for the audience, as the father perseveres in a seemingly hopeless search far from home.
The two Short Cuts programs were composed of 16 dramatic, documentary and animated films ranging from 4 to 34 minutes, including numerous international award winners and some by very experienced filmmakers.
The Filmfest DC Short Cuts Award is presented to Seasick, a film deserving continued and greater recognition, a film which in the shortest of short times, with economy of means and line, using only Croatian music and drawn images, evokes profound memories, feelings, and longings that would have only been reduced by the use of words.
Looking Back at 28 Years of Filmfest DC
Watch Our 2014 Festival Trailer