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film commissions

In December 2020 we invited artists and filmmakers across the UK to conceive a new one-minute film, exploring the question: How should the MENA+ arts community celebrate what we have in common?


The result is eight enchanting, joyful, and thought-provoking films spanning animation, music, poetry, dance, installation and comedy. 

watch all 8 films in our selected order
subtitles in English
audio described
subtitles in a language of the filmmakers' choosing
or watch all 8 films individually
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A Cube in Love

by Majid Adin

A Cube In Love tells a symbolic story of a journey from ancient wisdom to love, from love to truth, and truth to creation.

Majid Adin studied fine art and animation in Iran, where he was arrested because of the political nature of his work. He fled his country and arrived in the UK in 2016. He now lives in London and works as an artist. He won a prestigious competition to create the official music video for Sir Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’. He is currently working on his first graphic novel, ‘Hamid and Shakespeare’ which will be published in April 2021.

subtitles in English & Farsi
audio described
extra version: narration in Farsi
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Mrs El Araby

by May Ziadé

Mrs El Araby explores the restricted space within which Arab women are allowed to exist in white Western media.

May Ziade is French-Lebanese and works on other people's films and her own. She has written stories and poems that were adapted into comics and short films, and worked as a producer’s assistant on high-budget productions. She is currently working on her first short-film, 'Neo-Nahda'.

subtitles in English & Classical Arabic
audio described
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Intimate Births

by Bint Mbareh

Mushrooms facilitate death in many ecosystems: they ensure death is a transformation rather than an ending. Bint Mbareh's film juxtaposes this momentous event - dying - with shared everyday places and acts to posit that death/transformation is a daily practice and can be conducive to growth if it is removed from taboo.

Bint Mbareh is a first-time filmmaker with experience in television production, songwriting and an interest in sound. Her most recent research was an exploration of how rain-summoning song and ritual in Palestine acted and may continue to act as a ritual of time-bending. Several installations and performances down the line, the singer was offered the MENA Arts UK grant to explore death with the Palestinian sonic and musical tradition in mind.

subtitles in English & Palestinian Arabic
audio described
Robin Clewle
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Kiss Between Our Borders

by Amina Atiq

Kiss Between our Borders is a metaphorical & historical love story between an Ethiopian coffee plant and Yemeni farmer. Home lives between our walls and it never left - we left home.

Amina Atiq is a Yemeni–Scouse poet, performance artist and activist. Award winning for her active & community engagement work, Curious Minds Young Associate for and BBC Words First Finalist 19. She is currently writing her first one-woman show, Broken Biscuits to explore her gran-mothers 1970s Yemeni- Scouse household to untangle what it means to be British. She is currently a remote writer in residence with Queensland Poetry Festival and Metal Southend.

subtitles in English & Yemeni Arabic
audio described
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Unveil Your Eyes

by Maral Mamaghanizadeh

Unveil Your Eyes is the expression of my experience as a Deaf refugee moving to the UK, acknowledging that I still see my life and my home town of Birmingham through the lens and experiences of my upbringing in Iran and the Middle East.

Maral Mamaghanizadeh is a Deaf Iranian artist. Her work explores the barriers she encounters in everyday life, being Deaf, female and a refugee. Maral communicates through her artworks, combining feminism and cultural politics. In 2017, Maral became a political refugee as her work, ‘The Politics of Voice; The Tale of Tresses’ directly challenged the patriarchal society in Iran. Her work continues to challenge stereotypes, break boundaries and open people’s hearts and minds.

subtitles in English & Farsi
audio described
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Third Culture Glitch

by Jida Akil

Third Culture Glitch is an interpretation of reconnecting with cultural roots as a foreigner to one's heritage. The film visualises the process of exploring cultural heritage–in my case Syria–through model-making and stop-motion.

Jida Akil is a Syrian/Lebanese early-career theatre designer currently based between London & Cyprus. She designs set & costume for both theatre and dance with a design-led devising approach. The themes of her work often revolve around political and socio-economic issues which also explore dramaturgy inspired by lived experience. Jida is currently completing her bachelor's degree in Performance Design at Central Saint Martins.

subtitles in English & Classical Arabic
audio described
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by Nooriyah Qais

Darbouka is a physical conversation between three Middle Eastern and North African dancers who are geographically separate yet connected by the beat of the drums. Celebrating three dance disciplines that express different parts of their identities, they unite through the heartbeat of the region, the darbouka.

Nooriyah Qais is a DJ, presenter and filmmaker. As a DJ, she is known for playing upbeat popular records infused with Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) sounds, paying homage to her heritage. She is currently a MENA specialist resident at Foundation FM and Plus 1 Radio. As a filmmaker, she explores the themes of home, culture and gender with films showcased at the V&A Museum, Liverpool Arab Arts festival and more.

subtitles in English & Modern Standard Arabic
audio described
extra version: final credits in Arabic
Ray Roberts
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The Art of Uprising

by Peyvand Sadeghian

The Art of Uprising is a celebration of the ability amongst diasporic artists to imagine different futures.

Peyvand Sadeghian is an Actor, Puppeteer and Theatre Maker born, bred and based in London to Iranian and Chinese parents. Recent credits include: DUAL دوگانه (Vault Festival Show of the Week 2020), Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran (Fringe First 2019). Although she has experience in front of the screen, this will be her first time making a short film.

subtitles in English & Farsi
audio described

Our thanks go to our judges:

Sabrina Mahfouz (playwright/poet),

Hannah Khalil (playwright),

Saeed Taji Farouky (film director),

Sepy Baghaei (theatre director, head judge, and MENA Arts UK co-vice chair).


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