The 2nd BBC Arabic Festival took place October 30 to November 2, 2015 in the iconic Radio Theatre. Short films, documentaries, panel discussions, debates, music and food graced the BBC's Broadcasting House throughout our four-day event. Watch our highlights video.

"The BBC Arabic Festival aims to draw young talent from around the world and to give filmmakers the platform to share their distinctive journalistic and artistic work. We hope the festival will bring the British audience closer to the Middle East and to some of the people telling its stories." - Tarik Kafala, Head of BBC Arabic

The awards of the 2015 BBC Arabic Festival went to...

Feature Documentary: The Immortal Sergeant, directed by Ziad Kalthoum

The Immortal Sergeant The Immortal Sergeant

After the Syrian revolution, Ziad Kalthoum served as a reservist whilst also working as assistant to the acclaimed Syrian film director Mohammed Malas. The Immortal Sergeant follows Ziad through a typical day in 2012, giving us a glimpse of his fellow Syrians as they struggle with their grief and trauma whilst attempting to continue with their ordinary lives. The Immortal Sergeant, borne out of his experience working on Ladder to Damascus, has screened at numerous festivals and was awarded a prize at the Locarno Film Festival.

Directed by Ziad Kalthoum: Ziad is a soldier in the morning and a filmmaker for the rest of the day. He was born in Homs, Syria in 1981. Before making feature documentaries, he worked as assistant director on several films, series and TV programmes. His first documentary Aydil (Oh, My Heart) (2012) was selected for the Carthage Film Festival.

 Ziad Kalthoum Ziad Kalthoum

Short Film: The Great Safae, directed by Randa Maroufi

The Great Safae The Great Safae

The Great Safae is a fictional, experimental documentary inspired by a real person. Referred to as 'The Great Safae', she was a transgender who spent part of her life working as a domestic servant for the director's family. Throughout this time, her 'true' sexual identity eluded everyone in the house. Based on this ambiguity, Maroufi re-imagines 'Safae' as she goes through her daily routine, working in the house and changing from male to female. The film stylistically weaves in snippets of conversation from various members of the family about social views on gender behavior. The Great Safae is a story of interchanging realities.

Directed by Randa Maroufi: Randa is an artist who works across photography, installation, performance, sound and film. Her work has a focus on issues surrounding gender and public space. Maroufi has exhibited in institutions globally, including the Marrakech Biennale, the Arab World Institute in Paris, the African Photography Meeting in Bamako and the Internationale Kurzfilmtage International Short Film Festival in Dresden. She lives and works between Tangier and Lille.

Randa Maroufi Randa Maroufi

Short Documentary: Safwan Market, directed by Hadi Mahood

Safwan Market Safwan Market

Safwan Market, located in the heart of Samawa, Iraq, is the city's largest marketplace and most lucrative area for its inhabitants to earn a living. When the government decides to demolish the market in order to build a mosque, the vendors working there have reason to revolt. Where will they take their business? How will they earn their livelihood? And why have the city developers decided on this particular spot?

Directed by Hadi Mahoud: Hadi is an award-winning filmmaker and theatre director. His works include The Drowned, a documentary based on confidential information from the Iraqi police file, Nights of Gypsy's Descent, a documentary on gypsies subjected to hatred following the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, Iraq my Country, Collapse, Cart and Ambulance Driver.

Hadi Mahood Hadi Mahood

Reportage: Sisa, Iron Lady, directed by Aly El-Sotohy

Sisa, Iron Lady Sisa, Iron Lady

Sisa's husband died while she was pregnant with their first child. This short report tells the extraordinary story of how she has spent the past 43 years dressing as a man in order to work and support her child. Sisa, Iron Lady illustrates her determination to overcome gender bias.

Directed by Aly El-Sotohy: Aly is a director, producer and editor. After graduating in 2007, he started his career in investigative journalism. He now works as Director for the Department of Multimedia News in Egypt.

Aly ElSotohy Aly ElSotohy

We thank all the filmmakers who were part of the 2015 BBC Arabic Festival

BBC Arabic Festival 2015 directors BBC Arabic Festival 2015 directors

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