Mission Statement – ALFILM

Ever since ALFILM – Arab Film Festival Berlin was founded in 2009, its mission has been to bring an Arab perspective on the Arab world to Berlin’s big screens, offering its audience a unique chance to get acquainted with the region through films. For the last 15 years, the festival has presented a multifaceted program, showcasing productions of artistic merit and relevance to timely issues.

Alongside the ALFILM Selection in which recent films from most countries of the Arab world have been featured over the years, the ALFILM Spotlight is dedicated to the cinematic treatments in film of political, social, and cultural questions relevant to the region and to the transformations it went through in the last decades.

Through programs like Of Flesh and Light: the Body in Arab Cinema (2014); Cousins: Jewish-Arab Identities in Postcolonial Cultural Discourses (2016); Reflections on Arab Masculinities (2018); Lebanon – From Civil War to Chaos: A Tribute to Filmic Resistance (2022); Ghosts, Griefs, and Lost Dreams: Visions of the City in Arab Cinema (2023); etc, the festival has always seen itself as an independent space of reflection on complex thematics that concern the Arab world and its diaspora. (–> archive)

Parallel to its film programs, the festival has organized each year a number of Film Talks, Panel discussions, and Master Classes with prominent Arab filmmakers, producers, experts, etc. The aim of these events has always been to enhance dialogue by offering the festival’s audience the chance to see the region from the perspectives of its population and to discuss it with the festival’s guests. ALFILM has therefore, since its foundation, understood itself as a space of cultural interaction, a bridge between Germany and the Arab world.

Since its first edition, ALFILM has also dedicated itself to showcasing Palestinian cinema in Berlin. In the last decades, films from Palestine have been selected in the most distinguished international film festivals around the world, winning prestigious awards. For many reasons nevertheless, they are rarely to be seen on Germany’s big screens. As an Arab film festival, ALFILM has always considered its role to feature these films and to offer a platform for Palestinian filmmakers to make their stories heard in Germany. Through the years, the festival’s audience has been invited to engage with Arab thus pro-Palestinian perspectives on the Arab-Israeli conflict, as Palestine and the struggles of its people are and will remain central to the construction of Arab identities. The festival sees it therefore as its role to offer its audience and guests a space for a respectful and open discussion, also on these questions.

In alignment with the festival’s mission, we believe, as stated in ALFILM’s 2023 opening ceremony, that “speaking about Palestine in Germany should not be an act of courage” and that Palestinian narratives should and must have a place in Berlin’s cultural landscape. Therefore, this year’s edition will feature a Spotlight entitled Here is Elsewhere: Palestine in Arab Cinema and Beyond. Through a selection of Palestinian, Arab, and International film productions, this program engages with the question of Palestine as a cause of regional and global repercussions.

For the last 15 years, ALFILM has been a space of dialogue and cultural exchange between Arab filmmakers and the festival’s Berlin-based audience. We are looking forward to continuing to bring to Germany Arab perspectives on the region through films, for many years to come. We aim to remain a major cultural bridge between the Arab world, its diaspora, and Europe by maintaining, under any circumstances, a dialogue open between cultural, social, and political actors, as well as film professionals, experts, and lovers, from these parts of the world.

Pascale Fakhry,
Festival Director