Arab documentary landscapes: Transnational flow of solidarity at festivals
Van de Peer, Stefanie
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Van de Peer, S. (2021) Arab documentary landscapes: Transnational flow of solidarity at festivals. In: Shafik, V. (ed.) Documentary filmmaking in the Middle East and North Africa. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press (In Press).
In response to the global commodification of culture and neoliberal, capitalist tendencies, political filmmaking and specifically documentary have taken on an increasing urgency with creative as well as political ideas and idealism central to the form. Documentary and political cinema is also increasingly present in the world on television, cinema and smaller screens. In the Arab world, the audiences’ growing attachment to the non-fiction form is reflected in the establishment of new documentary TV channels, the introduction of extra documentary slots on existing channels and in the increasing amount of specialized documentary film festivals. Likewise, festivals often did not accept documentaries on their programs, or if they did these films were part of a sidebar: cheaper to program due to lower screening fees, screened in smaller or off-site venues, not accompanied by director or producer but by local activists or specialists in a topic, screened to smaller audiences, and awarded fewer and less valuable prizes. This has changed dramatically over the last decade, as even the biggest festivals in the world generally, and in the Arab world specifically, are increasingly awarding top prizes to creative documentaries.