The Culturist on Twitter
Tea with Culture

Podcast featuring discussions and interviews about the cultural happenings in the United Arab Emirates presented by Hind Mezaina (The Culturist) and Wael Hattar.


Entries in BFI London Film Festival 2017 (5)


My Top 25 Picks for BFI London Film Festival 2017

Zama, Dir Lucrecia Martel
Here's a list of films I am personally looking forward to seeing at the BFI London Film Festival and hope the schedule will allow me to watch them all. I've already watched a couple of films with a lot of buzz, Call Me By Your Name and A Fantastic Woman (both seen at Berlinale earlier this year and both already in my list of favourite films of the year). Click on each title for more information, schedule and ticketing details.    

In case you missed it, here are a few other film lists I made for this festival:
Ten Revived and Restored Films to See at BFI London Film Festival 2017
Ten Documentary Films to See at BFI London Film Festival 2017 
Ten Experimenta Films to See at BFI London Film Festival 2017
Five Arab Films to See at BFI London Film Festival 2017

120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Dir Robin Campillo
2017 | France | 144min  

A riveting and invigorating account of AIDS activist organisation ACT UP-Paris. 

Dir Affonso Uchôa, João Dumans
2017 | Brazil | 96min  
A teenager is drawn into the past life of his neighbour in this delicate, poetic work from Brazilian filmmakers João Dumans and Affonso Uchoa.  

Bad Genius 
Dir Nattawut Poonpiriya
2017 | Thailand-Australia | 130min   
Taking you straight back to the night before your GCSEs, this is an adrenaline-fueled, edge-of-the-desk exam-heist thriller like you’ve never seen before. 

Dir Kogonada
2017 | USA | 104min 
A young librarian with a thing for Modernist architecture expands her horizons when a Korean lawyer (John Cho) comes to town, in this impeccable debut.  

Dir Michael Matthews
2017 | South Africa | 120min
A wildly thrilling and deftly constructed Western-genre-inspired drama set across a boundless African landscape.   

The Florida Project
Dir Sean Baker
2017 | USA | 115min  
Sean Baker follows his incredible Tangerine with another visionary take on the wild ups and dangerous downs of life in America’s underbelly.    

Good Manners
Dir Juliana Rojas, Marco Dutra
2017 | Brazil-France | 135min   
Rule-breaking filmmaking at its most compelling and imaginative.    

Dir Semih Kaplano─člu
2017 | Turkey-Germany-France-Sweden-Qatar | 127min    
Mankind faces extinction in this stunningly-realised widescreen dystopian fiction about ecological disaster.   

Hagazussa - A Heathen's Curse
Dir Lukas Feigelfeld
2017 Germany-Austria | 102min    
This dark tale will put you under its spell.   

I am Not a Witch 
Dir Rungano Nyoni
2017 | UK-France-Zambia | 95min    

Welsh-raised, Zambian-born Rungano Nyoni delivers a dazzling debut with this dark satirical fairy tale aboutalittle girl accused of being a witch.     

Let the Sunshine In
Dir Claire Denis
2017 | France | 94min   

Director Claire Denis gives a wry account of an artist’s search for love, in this witty black comedy starring Juliette Binoche.     

Dir Andrey Zvyagintsev
2017 | Russia-France-Belgium-Germany | 127min   

Andrey Zvyagintsev (The Return, Leviathan) takes a caustic look at contemporary Russian values as a couplegoing through a divorce deal with their son’s disappearance.

Dir John Carroll Lynch
2017 | USA | 88min    
Harry Dean Stanton gives the performance of a lifetime as an irascible nonagenarian maverick in a New Mexican town, grappling with his mortality.   

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Dir Noah Baumbach
2017 | USA | 110min      
Master of the urban comedy drama, Noah Baumbach presents a study of a dysfunctional family par excellence, ruled over by Dustin Hoffman’s shambolic patriarch.   

The Party 
Dir Sally Potter
2017 | UK | 71min  
Following some unexpected revelations, a celebration quickly takes a turn for the worse in Sally Potter's razor-sharp new comedy.    
Dir Joachim Trier
2017 | Norway-France-Denmark-Sweden | 116min    
A teenage girl taps into some long-dormant powers, in this chiller from Joachim Trier (Oslo, August 31st).    

The White Girl 
Dir Jenny Suen. Co-Dir-Scr Christopher Doyle
2017 | Hong Kong (SAR of China) | 97min    
Debut director Jenny Suen collaborates with Christopher Doyle for this gorgeous Hong Kong-based drama, set to delight dreamers, outcasts and sensualists.  

The Wound 
Dir John Trengove
2016 | South Africa | 88min    
A tough and complex tale of closeted sexuality in South Africa. 

You Were Never Really Here
Dir Lynne Ramsay
2017 | UK-USA-France | 95min     
Lynne Ramsay journeys with Joaquin Phoenix into the mind of an ex-soldier gun-for-hire whose own demons are as brutal as the actions of his adversaries.    

Dir Lucrecia Martel
2017 | Argentina-Brazil-Spain-The Netherlands-Mexico-Portugal-USA | 115min  

A political western-cum-existentialist epic from the one of Latin America’s boldest filmmakers, Zama offers an incisive and visually arresting examination of the abuses of colonialism.  

Images and text via BFI London Film Festival 2017.

Five Arab Films to See at BFI London Film Festival 2017

The Nile Hilton Incident, Dir Tarik Saleh

These are my top picks of feature films from/about the Arab world at the BFI London Film Festival. I've only watched one so far - The Nile Hilton Incident which I strongly recommend you don't miss. Click on each title for more information, schedule and ticketing details.     


Lebanon Factory
Dir Ahmad Ghossein, Lucie La Chimia, Shirin Abu Shaqra, Manuel Maria Perrone, Una Gunjak, Rami Kodeih, Mounia Akl, Neto Villalobos
2017 | Lebanon-France | 70min  

A portmanteau feature that is an often laugh-out-loud portrait of Lebanon and all its myriad charms and idiosyncrasies.

The Nile Hilton Incident
Dir Tarik Saleh
2017 | Sweden-Denmark-Germany | 107min 

A murder investigation is mired by bureaucratic corruption in this dark Egyptian thriller, where everyone is on the make. 

Sheikh Jackson
Dir Amr Salama
2017 | Egypt | 93min   

Sheikh Jackson follows a hardline Islamist preacher who yearns to moonwalk again after the death of singer Michael Jackson.

Dir Nabil Ayouch
2017 | France, Morocco, Belgium | 109min   

Five separate tales intertwine to tell the story of Moroccan society past and present. 

Dir-Scr Annemarie Jacir
2017 | Palestine | 96min  

An estranged father-son relationship in the vibrant city of Nazareth makes for an immensely entertaining drama by Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir. 

Images and text via BFI London Film Festival 2017.



Ten Experimenta Films to See at BFI London Film Festival 2017

Spell Reel, Dir Filipa César
One of my favourite sections of the BFI London Film Festival is Experimenta which includes films made by artists who "transform our experience of seeing moving images". This section usually has some gems to be discovered and I am looking forward to seeing as many films as I can. 

Here are my top 10 picks, you can see the complete list of Experimenta films here. Click on each title for more information, schedule and ticketing details. 

Dead the Ends
Dir Benedict Seymour
2017 | UK | 106min 

Benedict Seymour’s experimental feature is an urgent, engaging journey into the London riots and our current political situation via imagery from dystopian science fiction.  

Erase and Forget
Dir Andrea Luka Zimmerman
2017 | UK | 88min   

Investigative portrait of famous Vietnam vet, ‘Bo’ Gritz, the inspiration for Rambo, that exposes the complexities of how America creates its own reality.  

Life Imitation
Dir Chen Zhou
2017 | China | 82min   

Cutting edge artist Chen Zhou fuses documentary, chat apps and Grand Theft Auto to build a mind-bending picture of queer lives on the edge.    

The Mærsk Opera 
Dir Superflex
2017 | Denmark | 69min

Superflex create an operatic interpretation of the building of Copenhagen’s famous performance space, one of Europe’s most controversial buildings. 

No Trace of Accelerator  
Dir Emily Wardill

2017 | UK-Norway | 50min   

Emily Wardill presents a compelling investigation into collective fear. 

Dir Basma Alsharif

2017 | France-Palestine-Belgium-Qatar | 77min   

The Gaza Strip is the starting point for this universal story of heartbreak from Basma Alsharif.  

The Pure Necessity
Dir David Claerbout
2016 | Belgium | 50min  

The Jungle Book is re-made removing the humans to create a paradise of animal freedom.  

Spell Reel
Dir Filipa César
2017 | Portugal-Germany-France | 96min   

Filipa César’s documentary following the rediscovery of the revolutionary cinema of Guinea-Bissau and its role in reclaiming national memory.   

Tonsler Park
Dir Kevin Jerome Everson
2017 | USA | 80min    

The functioning, or malfunctioning, of US democracy on Election Day 2016 as seen through the operations of polling stations in Charlottesville, Virginia.  

Tripoli Cancelled
Dir Naeem Mohaiemen
2017 | Greece-Germany-UK | 95min    

The modern migrant experience as expressed through one man’s struggle to survive, trapped in an abandoned airport for a decade.  


Images and text via BFI London Film Festival 2017.


Ten Documentaries to See at BFI London Film Festival 2017 

The Dead Nation, Dir Radu Jude

Here's my list of top 10 documentaries to look out for at the BFI London Film Festival. Other documentaries worth seeing that I couldn't squeeze into my top 10 list include Bamseom Pirates Seoul InfernoDolores and  Here to be Heard: The Story of the Slits

Click on each title for more information, schedule and ticket details. 

Dir Alexandre O. Philippe
2017 | USA | 91min

Crack open the chocolate syrup, Mrs Bates is coming to stay.  

David Stratton: A Cinematic Life

Dir Sally Aitken
2017 | Australia | 97min

A galaxy of Aussie stars pay tribute to Australia’s leading film critic, as David Stratton takes us on a journey through the nation’s cinema.   
Dir Radu Jude
2017 | Romania | 83min

Romanian life prior to the outbreak of the Second World War is the subject of Radu Jude’s fascinating archive documentary.  

Distant Constellation
Dir Shevaun Mizrahi
2017 | USA-Turkey-Netherlands | 80min 
Residents of a retirement home in Istanbul share their memories in this arresting and artful documentary.    

Ex Libris
New York Public Library 
Dir Frederick Wiseman

2017 | USA | 197min

An immersive journey into the New York Public Library with great documentarian Frederick Wiseman.  

Faces Places
Dir-Scr Agnès Varda, JR
2017 | France | 89min  

Agnès Varda teams up with artist JR for a road-trip across France, in this moving meditation on friendship, cinema and the power of art on people’s lives.  

Dir Tony Zierra
2017 | USA | 94min

A fascinating account of working alongside Stanley Kubrick – by one of his closest collaborators.    

Dir Austin Lynch, Matthew Booth
2017 | USA | 76min  

A spell-binding exploration of the human experience, visually dazzling, combining documentary and video art.    
Dir Eugene Jarecki
2017 | USA-Germany | 117min  

Comparing Elvis’s life and times with everyday existence in Trump’s America, this slyly amusing road movie documentary is a treat for the eyes and ears.       

Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton
Dir Rory Kennedy
2017 | USA | 118min   

A cinematic treat exploring the life and career of Laird Hamilton, a pioneer in big waves surfing.      

Images and text via BFI London Film Festival 2017.

Top 10 Revived and Restored Films to See at BFI London Film Festival 2017 

The Dumb Girl of Portico, Dir Lois Weber

The BFI London Film Festival starts on 4th October. I've been here for a week already, attending the pre festival press screenings (and catching up on a few old and new film releases in cinemas).

This year's edition includes 242 films from 67 countries including 46 documentaries, 6 animations, 14 archive restorations and 16 artists’ moving image features and 128 short films.
I've been going through the film list over the past week and here's my first list of top 10 revived and restored films to see at the festival, listed below in the order of release date (click on each title to read more and book tickets).

Any opportunity to watch an old film on the big screen, especially one that is restored, must not be missed.

The Dumb Girl of Portici
Dir Lois Weber
1915 | USA | 115min

The Prince of Adventurers 
Dir Alexandre Volkoff
1926 | France | 159min


Dir Franz Osten

1928 | UK-Germany-India | 105min

Little Veronika
Dir Robert Land
1930 | Austria-Germany | 70min | 35mm 


Dir Humberto Solás
1968 | Cuba | 160min

Dir Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin
1968 | USA | 91min  

Funeral Parade of Roses
Dir Toshio Matsumoto

1969 | Japan | 105min

Dir Med Hondo
1970 | Mauritania | 98min


Dir Dario Argento
1977 | Italy | 101min   

Om Dar-B-Dar
Dir Kamal Swaroop

1988 | India | 101min