Black Nights Film Festival presents a large variety of films from the Middle East and Muslim countries. Making a selection is quite risky as the level is different. At the same time, one can find true treasures among them. It is definitely worth watching them at the festival as the majority will not make it to Estonian cinemas later.

“Two” (Iran)

Iranian director and film actress Soheila Golestani, who starred in “Today”, a drama that won several prizes at last year’s BNFF, has in her debut production focused on human relationships in the contemporary urbanised Iranian society, which similarly to Western values is losing its humane side.

“Night Shift” (Iran)

A psychological family drama by internationally celebrated actor, writer, and director Niki Karimi.

„Avalanche“ (Iran)

Morteza Farshbaf, protégé of acclaimed film director Abbas Kiarostami, delivers a graceful and intimate drama that proves him to be one of the most promising up-and-coming directors of today’s Iranian cinema. Director Morteza Farshbaf’s celebrated debut feature “Mourning” was screened at BNFF in 2011.

“Iraqi Odyssey” (Iraq et al)

The documentary “Iraqi Odyssey” is a journey to a family’s life story, which is tightly knit with recent history of Iraq. Award-winning Swiss documentary filmmaker, Iraqi-born Samir draws a frank and blunt depiction of the history of his homeland, which carries the heavy burden of the recent horrors and where democracy has remained an unattainable dream. “Iraqi Odyssey” was selected the Switzerland’s candidate for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars.

“Mustang” (Turkey et al)

In warm tones and beautiful visuals, Deniz Gamze Ergüven manages to tell a gripping drama, which contains deep criticism of the social and power politics and communicates the feminist message so crucial in Turkey. According to the description, it could be another film about women’s issues in the Muslim world, but arguably, there is more.

“A.K.A. Nadja” (Israel, United Kingdom)

Israeli films about identity can be rather strong. Also, the Israeli and Palestine films that deal with both sides, usually have potential.

“Excuse My French” (Egypt)

The fact that the film had a troubled production due to continuous interference by the Egyptian censors makes the outcome even more astonishing – it manages to make the audience constantly laugh regardless of the subjects, which seem criminal to discuss, much less laugh about. The film has become one of the most popular Egyptians feature films ever.

“Sworn Virgin” (Italy, Albania et al)

The sensitive film story treats a very actual subject of sexual identity from a slightly different angle and raises interesting questions about the culturally fixed norms of sexual identity and an individual’s possibilities of determining one’s image of self.

The mountain village in northern Albania can be either Muslim or Catholic. In reality, there is an archaic world that crosses religions, definitely freakish and utterly honourable.

“Very Big Shot” (Lebanon, Qatar)

A Lebanese-style action film, where both striking characters as well as authentic depiction of the local bureaucracy have its place. A film, which may turn out to be a farce as well as a masterpiece.

“The White Knights” (takes place in Chad)

“The White Knights” takes place in Chad, where the NPO “In the Name of Children” has arrived to offer shelter, food and education to more than 300 up to 8-year-old orphans. One of the main questions of the film that haunts both its characters as well as the viewers is: how do you act in a situation where you condemn the children to death by leaving them with their parents, but commit a crime by taking them with you?

We watch the films from distant cultures in order to reflect ourselves as well.  This film reflects quite directly.

* The recommendations have been compiled by an employee of the Estonian Institute and a film lover Katrin Tombak

** As we have not seen all the films ourselves, we cannot guarantee anything. You have to see them for yourself.