In February 2024, the Beirut Art Film Festival is set to captivate audiences with a diverse selection of thought-provoking documentaries that delve into the realms of poetry, culture, and artistic rivalry. This month, the festival proudly presents two exceptional films: The Poetess, a powerful documentary about Saudi poetess Hissa Hilal, and Borromini and Bernini: The Challenge for Perfection, which explores the intense rivalry between two giants of Baroque architecture.

“The Poetess”: A Riveting Documentary Celebrating the Power of Words

Directed by the talented duo Stefanie Brockhaus and Andreas Wolff, “The Poetess” is a compelling documentary that follows the inspiring journey of Hissa Hilal, a bold Saudi woman who challenged cultural norms by participating in the Million’s Poet competition, a realm traditionally dominated by men. This remarkable film not only showcases Hilal’s journey but also delves into the broader themes of gender roles, women’s rights, and the transformative power of poetry in the Arab world.

Hissa Hilal made headlines with her audacious participation in the Million’s Poet competition, an event renowned for its celebration of classical Arabic poetry, largely a male bastion. Through her evocative and powerful poems, Hilal dared to tackle critical social issues, boldly questioning traditional gender roles and advocating for women’s rights. Her courageous voice resonated beyond the competition, igniting conversations on a global scale.

The Poetess presents an intimate portrait of Hilal’s journey, capturing her resilience amidst the challenges she faces in a conservative society. The film highlights her poetic talent and her role as a catalyst for change, challenging viewers to rethink cultural norms and the role of women in the literary world.

This Saudi Arabian and German collaboration from 2017, lasting 128 minutes, features Arabic and English dialogues with English subtitles. The screenings are scheduled as follows: Friday, February 2nd, at 3:00 PM at Al Rabita el Sakafia in Tripoli; Friday, February 9th, at 6:00 PM at Ishbilia Theater in Saida; and Thursday, February 15th, at 5:00 PM at Palais Municipal in Zahle.

Offering free access to all, these screenings provide a unique opportunity for diverse audiences to engage with this powerful story.

“Borromini and Bernini: The Challenge for Perfection’: A Cinematic Exploration of Artistic Rivalry in Baroque Rome

Giovanni Troilo’s 2023 documentary, Borromini and Bernini: The Challenge for Perfection, is an enthralling journey into one of the most intense rivalries in the history of Western art. Set against the backdrop of Baroque Rome, the film meticulously explores the tumultuous relationship between two architectural giants: Francesco Borromini and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Bernini, often hailed as the “second Michelangelo,” was not only a master sculptor but also a prominent figure in Roman architectural circles. His rivalry with Borromini, another visionary in the realm of architecture, forms the crux of this narrative.

Troilo’s film delves deep into the artistic and personal dynamics between these two icons. It showcases how their rivalry fueled a creative fervor that significantly impacted the architectural landscape of Rome. The documentary brings to life the era when Rome was the pulsating center of Western art, attracting a myriad of artists eager to etch their names in the annals of history.

Through a careful examination of their works and the context in which they were created, Borromini and Bernini: The Challenge for Perfection paints a vivid picture of their influence on Baroque architecture. It highlights the intricacies of their designs, their unique approaches to art, and their undying quest for perfection.

The movie runs for 102 minutes and is presented in Italian, English, and French with English subtitles. Join us for this cinematic exploration on Monday, February 12, at 5:00 PM, at the Bathish Auditorium in West Hall, AUB.

Adding to the film’s depth is the discussion session scheduled to follow its screening. This discussion, led by Professor Nader El-Bizri, Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Sharjah, promises to offer valuable insights into the film and its subjects.

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