Even in the best of times, the American view of Arabs is steeped in stereotypes, prejudice, and sensationalist headlines from abroad. In the current climate, the 12th annual Arab Film Festival isnt just another cultural event on the calendar but an essential antidote to fear and loathing. The intimate humanist sagas playing today eschew politics in favor of such universal themes as the elusiveness of everyday happiness. In Samiras Garden, a Casablanca newlywed isolated and ignored at her older husbands country abode seeks male companionship. Another Moroccan fish out of water, an architect living in Paris, returns to Fez for a visit and ignites the simmering frustrations of peers desperate for change in Burned Hearts. Out of Coverage centers on a Syrian who, after 10 years of caring for an imprisoned friends family along with his own, finds he has fallen for the other mans wife. The human comedy, its plain to see, unfolds in the Arab world the same as it does in the West.
Screenings start at 1 p.m. at the Clay, 2261 Fillmore (at Clay), S.F.
Oct. 17-28, 2008