Festival to bring UK closer to Middle East

Samir Farah Samir Farah: festival aims to go beyond headlines

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BBC Arabic is giving Arab cinema, documentaries and journalism a UK showcase.

It is inviting established filmmakers, investigative reporters, citizen journalists and young talent to enter its Aan Korb (Close up) film and documentary festival later this year at London's Radio Theatre.

Entries may take a social, cultural or political approach to the Arab world since the start of the uprisings, but must have real experience at their heart.

'There has been consistent coverage of the key events in the region across the media,' says Samir Farah, BBC Arabic programmes editor.

'We are trying to do something different with the Aan Korb festival and bring audiences closer to the actual people involved in these events.'

The best entries across five categories will be screened at the event, which is being run in partnership with the British Council between October 31 and November 3.

£10,000 prize

Panorama editor Tom Giles will chair the judging panel for documentaries, investigation and citizen journalism, with languages controller Liliane Landor at the helm for feature and short films.

Arabs and non-Arabs can take part, although BBC staff are excluded. While the most promising young film or documentary-maker will be rewarded with up to £10,000 of training, mentoring and equipment, alongside a possible BBC commission.

The festival aims to tap into the growing reputation of Arab talent.

'There is a wealth of excellent work that is being created across the Arab region - particularly within the film sector,' says Farah. 'Arab actors and films are starting to garner Oscar nominations and that automatically increases peoples' interest for work about the Arab worlds.

'We want to show a British audience just how much quality and excellence there is being generated around this subject matter to increase people's interest and awareness even more.'

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