Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival is a special 2-day film festival themed WATER مياه; featuring films from across the world examining diverse issues surrounding water.

This year’s special program, on the occasion of COP 28, is supported by the Environmental Agency Abu Dhabi and The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi. Speakers and films will connect to the agenda of COP 28 and issues of climate change.

See the full festival lineup here.

A classic of Arab environmental cinema from Arab auteur Omar Amiralay is coupled with two unique examples of environmental cinema activism from an environmental filmmaking collective in Jordan to an important environmental film festival in Lebanon. This screening features:

  • Children’s Films from Al Reef Film Festival (Lebanon) and Dibeen Creative Lab Films (Jordan) – 10 min

The “Rural Encounters on Environment and Film – REEF” is the first of its kind event in Lebanon and the Arab world that is dedicated to rural life and its representation.

  • Everyday Life in a Syrian Village

Directed by Omar Amiralay (Syria) – 83 min

The first documentary to present an unabashed critique of the impact of the Syrian government’s agricultural and land reforms, Everyday Life in a Syrian Village delivers a powerful look at the state’s conceit of redressing social and economic inequities.

Biographies

Omar Amiralay (Syria)

Omar Amiralay is a prominent Syrian filmmaker as well as a civil rights activist. Most of his distinctive documentary films are potent critiques of the sociopolitical status quo in Syria and many have been banned by that country’s government. Amiralay has been an outspoken critic of dictatorship and the lack of basic freedoms in Syria and has been active in civil rights initiatives. Amiralay was born in 1944 in Damascus to an ethnically diverse (Circassian, Kirghize, Turkish and Arab) family. He grew up in Damascus, close to the tomb of the Sufi master Ibn Arabi. His father worked as a policeman and died when Amiralay was only six. His mother was Lebanese. Amiralay was a very inquisitive and precocious child. He credits his brother, a painter, with his early exposure to art and music. He attended college in Syria before leaving in 1965 for Paris, where he first studied drama at the Théâtre des Nations and later cinema at the Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques (IDHEC), starting in 1967. In 1970 Amiralay returned to Syria and launched his prolific career. His provocative and often controversial documentary films have made him a target of intimidation and harassment by the Syrian authorities. He was interrogated and briefly detained most recently in 2006 after his film A Flood in Ba’th Country was shown on the al-Arabiyya satellite channel.

Rural Encounters on Environment and Film

The “Rural Encounters on Environment and Film – REEF” is the first event of its kind in Lebanon and the Arab world that is dedicated to rural life and its representation. This event takes place in the beautiful town of Kobayat which is located in Akkar – north of Lebanon. This town, known to be one of the most rural areas in Lebanon, is famous for being a multi-
confessional and multi-ethnic region and home for 400,000 people, and yet remains until this day without any available movie theater or cinema activity. Akkar also lacks cultural dynamics which represents a major asset for the development of the region. Through film screenings, production of short videos, debates, and discovery of the environmental resources and the cultural heritage of Akkar, REEF highlights the diversity of this region and its rural culture all while using arts and cinema.

Dibeen Creative Lab

The Dibeen Creative lab aims to train local youth residing in the area of northwest Jordan to give them the opportunity to tell their own stories through digital content creation. This year the participants were grouped into teams of two, creating five short videos about the environment, such as deforestation and wood cutting, water scarcity, the effect of overgrazing on the environment, traditional organic plants, and the endangered Cedar trees. Dibeen is part of a forest nature reserve, located in northwest Jordan. It is situated just south of the Roman site of Jerash and covers an area of pine oak hills and is also the home to 17 endangered species.