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Proud Palestinian Performer Announced As Guest For Arab Film Festival

FESTIVALS: The Palestinian actor with an exceptionally commanding presence, Saleh Bakri, has been announced as a special guest for the Arab Film Festival Australia (AFFA) 2014.

Starring in the AFFA 2014 opening night film, When I Saw You (2012), Saleh Bakri is a self-identifying Palestinian theatre and film actor from Israel. A passionate activist for Palestine and its people, Bakri aims to use his acting as a powerful tool for inspiration and change.

“I believe in films because I believe that this art, this seventh art – cinema – is the most powerful in influencing people and changing them,” Bakri said in a recent interview. “I think art is the most truthful thing. The stage, the theatre, is the most truthful for me.”

Bakri will share more of these views on acting, film and particularly on his identity as a Palestinian actor living in Israel amidst the turmoil of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, during a special event for AFFA 2014. On Sunday 17 August 2014 at 2pm, Bakri will join Mehal Krayem, writer and PhD candidate at University of Technology, Sydney for an afternoon of conversation at Riverside Theatres in Parramatta.

Son of the legendary director and actor, Mohammad Bakri, (Jenin, Jenin), and brothers to fellow actors Ziad and Adam Bakri (Omar), Saleh Bakri is no stranger to performing. However, he wasn’t always comfortable with the idea. “When I became a teenager I discovered that I had the fear of standing in front of an audience. When I realized I had this fear, I decided to fight it and to defeat it…I could not continue my life with this fear. I went to study acting with this in mind,” Bakri told French blog Le Mur a Des Oreilles in an interview.

Arabic cinema is all the luckier for Bakri’s decision to overcome his performance anxiety by studying acting, because, since his beginnings as a professional actor, he has graced the silver screen in such hard-hitting politically-charged films as Salt of this Sea (2008), The Time that Remains (2009) and most recently, Giraffada (2013).

Bakri’s choice to play roles in films with strong political themes stems from his fierce loyalty to Palestine and his desire to champion the rights of his people. “I will keep dreaming of coming back. I will keep dreaming of a normal life as a nation, as every nation in the world,” Bakri said. “I am doing my best because we live in such a situation that needs to change. I believe that it’s my duty to do my best, to act.”

Given Bakri’s experience from the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the special conversation event with this talented and intelligent actor is bound to be a highlight of the 2014 AFFA program. Entry to the event is by donation and booking is essential as seating is limited.

The 13th annual AFFA will showcase the best of cinema emerging from a region in constant social and political flux. Launching on August 14-17 in Sydney, AFFA will make its way through to Melbourne from August 21-23 and Canberra on August 29-31.

This year’s festival promises an exciting mixture of new feature dramas and documentaries capturing complex yet beautiful societies within Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Palestine and Jordan.

Co-directors of AFFA, Mouna Zaylah and Fadia Abboud are particularly looking forward to the conversation event with Saleh Bakri. “I think the conversation with Saleh Bakri will give our filmgoers, and especially our Arab Australian filmgoers, a fantastic opportunity to discuss great films and important issues in a really safe, intellectual and supportive environment. And it’s so crucial that we are talking about world issues because even though we’re on the other side of the world, what’s happening in the Arab countries impacts greatly on us too,” Abboud said.

The Arab Film Festival Australia has become an integral event on the arts and cultural calendar and is proudly sponsored by Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, Arab Bank Australia, Screen NSW, Council for Australian-Arab Relations (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), Parramatta City Council, World Movies, Media International, Kazbah and Mezbah, Port Bar and Restaurant, Avant Carde, Asia Cup 2015, Western Sydney Wanderers, Arabic Pages, MySat and Radio 2moro.

WHAT: Saleh Bakri in conversation with Mehal Krayem for Arab Film Festival Australia 2014

WHEN: 2pm, Sunday 17 August 2014

WHERE: Riverside Theatres, Corner Church and Market Streets, Parramatta

HOW MUCH: Entry by donation. Booking essential as seating is limited. To make a reservation, email

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