UAB hosting international film conference

Three major directors will be on hand to screen their films during the event, to be held Nov. 1-3.

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Algerian director Merzak Allouache will be on hand to discuss his award-winning film The Repentant.

Filmmakers and scholars from around the world will converge at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Nov. 1-3, 2012 to discuss the role filmmaking plays in the international struggle for civil and human rights. The Fifth Annual Foreign Language Film Conference is sponsored by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and is free and open to the public.

This year’s event is an homage to the 49th anniversary of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham. On Sept. 15, 1963, four black girls were killed before church by a bomb planted by the Ku Klux Klan. The event had a ripple effect around the world, inspiring countless books, songs, articles and films. In that same spirit, UAB organizers put out a call for papers to find out how people worldwide tell the stories of their own fights for civil and human rights using film.

The response was overwhelming.

More than 60 scholars, filmmakers, students and professors from Russia, Italy, Canada, France and other countries will join the dialogue during the November event with hopes of educating the public about how film can inspire change.

“Our intention is to bring about awareness for the civil rights movements of the world,” says Serge Bokobza, Ph.D., chair of the foreign languages department and conference director.

More than 60 scholars, filmmakers, students and professors from Russia, Italy, Canada, France and other countries will join the dialogue during the November event with hopes of educating the public about how film can inspire change.

Sessions will include “Faith, Strife & Exodus: Religion and Film,” “Riots and Rights Through Time and Space,” and “From Horror to Queer: Contemporary Self Image in Film.”

Three major directors will be on hand to screen their films and answer questions. Sarah Maldoror of France, who is one of the first black female directors, will show Aime Cesaire, a look into the life of the writer who founded the “negritude” movement. Merzak Allouache, from Algeria, will screen his award-winning The Repentant — the tale of an Islamist terrorist who seeks to return to society — which was shown at the Cannes Festival in 2012 and will have its American premiere at the conference. Italian Stefano Savona, who has helmed a number of award-winning films, will show his most recent, Tahir: Liberation Square. This day-by-day account of the Egyptian revolution of 2011 has won honors at film festivals from New York to Dubai.

Screening times:

  • Aime Cesaire – Nov. 1, 4:30-6:30 p.m., DoubleTree Hotel, Heritage II, located at 808 20th St. South
  • The Repentant – Nov. 2, 7-9 p.m., UAB Hill University Center, room 105, located at 1401 University Blvd.
  • Tahrir: Liberation Square – Nov. 3, 4:30-6:30 p.m., DoubleTree Hotel, Heritage II, located at 808 20th St. South

“I am excited to be able to explore film on a global scale,” says Nicholas Price, a 22-year-old senior from Pelham. He and several other undergraduate students have worked with Bokobza to coordinate the event.

“There is so much to foreign cinema that we in the United States, let alone in Birmingham, don’t see very often.”

Price, who is a double major in international studies and linguistics and film studies, hopes those attending the conference will gain an awareness of the many struggles for civil rights around the globe.

“I think for people to walk away having gleaned a greater understanding of foreign histories and cultures is exciting and promising,” he says. 

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