22 May 2012

Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival 2012 Programme Announced

Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival

Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival Programme Announced

Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival, the only festival of its kind in the UK, returns to the city from 6 - 15 July after a record 10th year in 2011. With a packed programme of music, dance, performance, visual art, comedy, debates, talks, workshops, film, exhibitions and poetry - including many free events - this year’s festival promises to be bigger than ever.

Key events include a World Premiere at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on 15th July from the Alif Ensemble and the play Rest Upon the Wind at Unity Theatre from veteran actor and writer Nadim Sawalha. Festival goers can also enjoy a breathtaking solo piece from ballet dancer Ayman Safiah at St Georges Hall on 14 July. The talented young dancer has been dubbed ‘The Arab Billy Elliot’ and has just been snapped up by dance guru Matthew Bourne’s company New Adventures.

Razanne Carmey, Executive Director, Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival said: “This year’s Festival looks ‘Behind the News’ of political change in the Arab world.  Yes the riots and demonstrations, yes the calls for dictators to ‘Leave! Leave! Leave!’ But who are the people on the streets, when they go home?  We want to know the truth behind the news, the life behind the news and the loves, tears and laughter of the news makers.  And here in Liverpool, LAAF will let us sample and participate in the rich art and culture of so many countries and communities.”

Another festival highlight is a comedy performance from internationally renowned comedienne and actress, New York based Maysoon Zayid, who brings Laughing Widely to St Georges Hall on 14 July. Maysoon has featured on Comedy Central’s The Watch List, PBS’s America at a Crossroads: Muslim Comics Stand Up, and in Adam Sandler’s You Don’t Mess With Zohan. Maysoon is also holding a comedy workshop at the Bluecoat on 13 July.

See an exhibition and debate of satirical cartoons at the Walker Art Gallery throughout the festival period (6-15 July) from Reem Abdelhadi. His work Laughing at the Government explores and discusses the history of Arab political humour and the art of drawing cartoons.

LAAF 2012 also sees the return of the ever popular Family day at Sefton Park on 8 July, where visitors of all ages can indulge in a sensory experience of the Arabic world with an afternoon of colour, live music, dance, workshops, stalls and food centred around the park’s beautiful Palm House.

Taher Qassim MBE, Chair, Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival said: “Since its inception in 1998, Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival has grown to become one of the key events on the North West festival calendar. This year is no exception, with an amazing array of vibrant and diverse acts that will attract thousands of visitors, 2012 is looking to be our biggest and most exciting year to date”.

Marcel Khalife, Patron, Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival said: “This year’s events reflect the quality and diversity of arts, education and sheer enjoyment we have come to connect with the only festival of its kind in the UK. I believe the artist is by nature a rebel and one must be rebellious with all creative projects; the 2012 festival is a celebration of the ongoing cultural expression within the Arab world. The festival’s mass appeal is self evident; join in and be part of it”



Funoon Al Jazeera
Saturday 7 July 7.30pm, the Bluecoat £10/£8
Go beyond belly dance! This Arabian Folk dance performance explores the history, diversity, and depth of the Arab culture. With the explosion of Belly dance popularity, the origin of this phenomenon is often forgotten. For the first time, UK dance communities come together to create a dance show and a Journey--Michwar-- to “Aljazeera Alarabia.”
Book: 0151 702 5324

Merseyside Arabic Dance Showcase Saturday 14 July, 8pm, Unity Theatre, £10/£8 Enjoy an enchanting evening of music and dance performances from North Africa and beyond. Co-ordinated by Caroline Afifi, one of the founding members of the Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival.
Book: Tel: 0844 873 2888

Rest Upon the Wind Tuesday 10 July, 8:00pm, Unity Theatre, £12/£10 ‘A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me.’ Inspired by Khalil Gibran’s book, The Prophet, published in 1923 and selling over a hundred million copies, it’s the story of Middle Eastern immigrants forced through Ottoman oppression and wars seeking refuge in America. Scintillating, electric, with live music and stunning visual imagery. Written by Nadim Sawalha. 16+ Book: Tel: 0844 873 2888

Thursday 12th July, 8pm, Unity Theatre £10/£8 1979, Iraq and Iran lead by Saddam Hussein and Ayatollah Khomeini engage in a devastating Gulf-war. A million Iraqi and Iranian soldiers and civilians are estimated to have died. In an installation-dance-performance, two artists born during that war draw the audience into their memories, where a human life was worth less than a dog’s explored in new ways through the beauty of dance. A Moussem production with the support of the EU Culture programme. 16+ Book: Tel: 0844 873 2888

Nadim Sawalha: An Arab Actor, for Better for Worse Monday 9 July 7.30pm, the Bluecoat £3/2 concessions The celebrated actor reflects on 50 years in British show business, stories and anecdotes.
Book: 0151 702 5324

A Star is Born: Emerging Talent Saturday 14 July, 6.30pm Concert Room, St Georges Hall, £5/£4 Including a solo piece from ballet dancer Ayman Safiah (the Arab Billy Elliot).

Maysoon Zayid: Laughing Widely
Saturday 14 July, 8pm, Concert Room, St Georges Hall. £12.50. Group discounts. Maysoon Zayid is an actress and professional stand up comedian, you may have seen her on Comedy Central’s The Watch List, PBS’s America at a Crossroads: Muslim Comics Stand Up, and in Adam Sandler’s You Don’t Mess With Zohan. Maysoon has performed stand-up in top New York clubs, and has toured extensively in the USA as well as Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. In April 2001, she founded Maysoon’s Kids, a scholarship and wellness program for disabled and wounded refugee children and orphans in Palestine. A great night of comedy from a unique lady. Find out more at Book via Liverpool Philharmonic Hall: 0151 709 3789


Freedom Hour 7, 8 and 14 July 2 – 3pm 9, 10, 11 and 12 July 5.30 – 6.30pm the Bluecoat, FREE Daily debates on current affairs, freedom and change in the Arab world. We hear from some who are directly involved; with daily debates on current affairs, freedom and change. Listen and speak up at this open forum with artists and commentators from Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival.
Fleeing Words Tuesday 10 July, 5pm, the Bluecoat, FREE An anthology of Tunisian fiction, poetry and articles; freedom of speech after the revolution.

Maysoon Zayid Workshop (Arab Comedy Festival)
Friday 13 July, the Bluecoat Come and take part in this fantastic workshop where you’ll learn the basics of stand up and how to pursue a career in it.
Book: 0151 702 5324

Sufi Dance Workshop Wednesday 11th July 4-6pm, MDI £4.50/£4 Come and join us for this exciting dance workshop, open to all levels from beginner to advanced. Explore the technique of Sufi dance from Iraq led by esteemed performer Duraid Abbas, also performing in the dance piece 1979 as part of the festival. Don’t miss out on this unique experience to engage and develop skills directly from Arab performance and culture. To Book: 0151 708 8810

Bidisha: Reading and Conversation followed by Freedom Hour Monday 9th July, 5.30pm, the Bluecoat FREE Bidisha is a writer, critic and broadcaster. She presents the arts and culture series on BBC radio and TV, and has written extensively. Join us for a reading from her fourth book, Beyond the Wall: Writing A Path Through Palestine “an unflinching portrait of life in the West Bank in the 21st Century.” (The Observer). She will be discussing the impact of military occupation on ordinary people.

Reem Abdelhadi: Laughing at the Government Sunday 15th July, 3.30pm, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, FREE Part of the Afternoon Symposium. Reem discusses the history of Arab political humour and the art of drawing cartoons. With an insightful overview of the development of this art form and how it deals with the human condition in social, economic and political terms; learn more about the role of political cartoons in influencing and reflecting the mood of the people. When cartoons say what journalists are afraid to, this is a fascinating event for all. 

Films at FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) and Kazimier are in partnership with the Arab Film Festival, curated by Omar Kholeif at FACT.

Pre Launch: Double Bill Tuesday 12 June 6.30pm, FACT
I Want to See (15) (Je Veux Voir) (Liverpool Premiere) FACT £5/4 Poignant road movie. French screen icon Catherine Deneuve journeys through war- torn Lebanon, with the enigmatic actor Rabih MrouĆ© as her guide. I Want to See is a stunning homage to cinema, that transcends the devastation of conflicted histories. Information and booking: 0871 902 5737

Incendies (15) 8pm, FACT £5/4 French and Arabic with English subtitles Oscar nominated adaptation of Wajdi Mouawad’s play Scorched is one of the greatest films of the last decade. It is a powerful tale of family ties, duty and the inescapable links between past and present. Following the death of their mother, twins Jeanne (Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin) and Simon (Maxim Gaudette) are shocked to discover that they have a brother and that the father they believed to be dead is still alive. Their mother’s final wish is that they should deliver sealed letters to the two men.

The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni (PG) (Liverpool Premiere) Friday 6 July 9pm The Kazimier Outdoor Screen, FREE , Arabic / English subtitles An award-winning elegy to the richest era of film production in Egypt, seen through the work of one of its most revered actresses. Pieced together from footage of her films, it tells the story of Hosni’s life up until her death in 2001. The film follows the LAAF festival launch and is an experience not to be missed! Information and booking: 0871 902 5737

Ghussoun Saturday 7 July 1pm, the Bluecoat, FREE A moving and intimate fly on the wall documentary about a young Iraqi woman in Jordan. followed by Freedom Hour discussion.
Book: 0151 702 5324

Caramel Sunday 8 July, 7pm, the Bluecoat, FREE Make sure you’re there for this great romantic comedy about five Lebanese women living in Beirut. Book: 0151 702 5324
Double Bill: Nomad’s Home + From Palestine with Love (PG)
Monday 9th July, 6.30pm, FACT, FREE – Booking Essential (UK Premiere)

Nomad’s Home (PG)
Supported by the DIFF Dubai Film Connection. Winner of Best Arab Documentary at the Dubai International Film Festival. An Egyptian filmmaker’s journey to the militarised Sinai Peninsula Information and booking: 0871 902 5737

From Palestine With Love (PG)
Maya is a dancer living in the occupied Palestinian territories. She plans a life with her Swedish boyfriend in Stockholm, where she wants to study. But the road from dream to reality is filled with obstacles – in the shape of her family’s expectations and the Swedish bureaucracy. Warm and subtly romantic. Information and booking: 0871 902 5737

Axis of Light (PG) Monday 9 July, 8.30pm, Fact, £4/£3 Northwest Premiere.
A poignant and absorbing observation of the changing contemporary art scene in the wider ‘Middle East’. This is Pia Getty’s third film project and features: Jananne Al-Ani, Ayman Balbaaki, Mona Saudi, Mona Hatoum, Etel Adnan, Youssef Nabil, Rachid Koraichi and Shirin Neshat. Information and booking: 0871 902 5737

VHS Kahloucha (15) Tuesday 10 July 6.00pm, FACT £5/4 UK Premiere.
An explosive documentary on amateur filmmaker Moncef Kahloucha -- a North African Ed Wood, tells the kitsch and campy story of one of Tunisia’s underground film icons. Information and booking: 0871 902 5737

El Shooq/Lust (15)(UK Premiere) Wednesday 11 July 6.30pm FACT, £6/5 Selected as Egypt’s official entry for the Academy Awards in 2011. We enter the lives of the inhabitants of a marginalised street in Alexandria before the revolution.
Information and booking: 0871 902 5737

Okay, Enough, Goodbye (12) Thursday 12 July 6.30pm, FACT, £5/£4 UK Premiere with Cornerhouse, Manchester In the city of Tripoli where family bonds run deep, a forty-year-old lives with his elderly mother and has given up on becoming independent. One day she suddenly leaves him and he is left with nothing but the company of the small city. Dark, melancholic and yet with a wistful comedy this is an adult man’s coming of age. The debut feature from two exciting filmmakers on the international film circuit, dubbed by the Guardian as filmmakers putting Arab cinema on the map. Information and booking: 0871 902 5737

Lion of the Desert Saturday 14 July 12noon, the Bluecoat, £3/£2 This movie classic starring Anthony Quinn and Oliver Reed is set between two worlds wars and depicts the struggle for freedom in the African desert.
Book: 0151 702 5324


Reading Emotions 6-29 July, Thomas Steers Way, Liverpool ONE , FREE Love, rejection, joy, fear, thinking, forgetting, compassion, belonging, contentment, courage, patience, peace. Children’s visual presentation of emotions through a series of photographic artwork and Arabic calligraphy. Produced as part of Liverpool Arabic Centre’s Education Project for Children and young people exploring messages to the Five Ways to Health and Wellbeing in partnership with the Community Development Team, Liverpool PCT and The Haven Project for Asylum and Refugee Children and Young People, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

Laughing at the Government 6-15 July, 10am-5pm Daily Walker Art Gallery, FREE A glimpse of the very important and ever-changing art of satirical cartoons from the Arab World. Rich with political and social humour, these cartoons reflect the laughter and pain of a nation more honestly than most other art forms. Rolling digital slide presentation with comments and explanation. Curated by Reem AbdelHadi. See ‘talks’ for special seminar on Arab cartoons.


The Arab Street Saturday 7 July 1pm-9pm, the Bluecoat/City Centre, FREE Includes discounted & free events. Street dance, music, food, performance and film.

Family Day Sunday 8 July 12.30-5.30pm, Sefton Park Palm House, FREE A fantastic, ever popular event that’s not to be missed; join us and indulge in a sensory experience of the Arabic world with an afternoon of colour, live music, dance, workshops, stalls and food suitable for all.

Come to Kasbah Monday 9 July, 3pm and 5pm, Kasbah £4.99/head From tasty tagines to stuffed aubergines, Kasbah offers a delight of Moroccan treats; see how these exceptional dishes are prepared and enjoy some lovely samples to whet your appetite. Limited capacity. Booking essential.
Please quote ‘Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival’ when booking: 0151 707 7744.

Syrian Cuisine Wednesday 11 July, Sahara Restaurant 8pm £13/head Come and sample the unique delights of Syrian cuisine and learn all about creating some interesting dishes for yourself a tantalising feast for the taste buds.

Yemen Day
Friday 13 July, 5pm, Liverpool Arabic Centre, FREE A vibrant day of music, film, food, Yemeni culture and more, all in the heart of L8. Come and join us for a vivid and exciting afternoon for all to enjoy. Please see for more details.

The Big Saturday Saturday 14 July, 12:00 noon, the Bluecoat FREE and paying events. A day of music, debate, film, poetry and food including Libyan poet Khaled Mattawa and live music in the garden. Includes two fantastic one hour Belly Dance workshops introducing the basic movements and music of Egyptian Raqs Sharqi given by Sirocco Academy of Egyptian Dance (SAED) teachers. Please see for full highlights of the day.


Afternoon Symposium: Khyam Allami with Maurice Louca and TamerAbu Ghazaleh In Conversation Sunday 15 July  1.30pm Rodewald Suite, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. Free to ticket holders for the evening concert. Join Khyam and the musicians of the Alif Ensemble for a wide ranging discussion. How does tradition inform contemporary composition in his music? What influences are at play to create a sound so contemporary and bewitching? And how have the extraordinary changes in the Arab world affected its artists and their work? A great lead into the evening’s performance.

Alif Ensemble
Sunday 15 July, 7.30pm, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, £15/£22.50 World premiere. New music conceived by Iraqi oud player Khyam Allami, with a band of musicians from traditional and contemporary Arabic music disciplines from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Palestine. The core of the Alif Ensemble features composer of alternative Arabic music, oud & buzuq player and vocalist Tamer Abu Ghazaleh and Egyptian electronica composer and pioneer Maurice Louca.

The premiere in Liverpool is presented by Liverpool Philharmonic as part of Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival 2012 and the London 2012 Festival. Created for BT River of Music, part of the London 2012 Festival, which is supported by National Lottery Funds through the Olympic Lottery Distributor and Arts Council England, and produced by Serious. Book: Tel: 0151 709 3789.

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