AUSTRALIA PROMOTES THE CULTURE
AND DIVERSITY OF ARAB COMMUNITIES
The Council for Australian-Arab Relations (CAAR) supported the screening of two Lebanese films at the Arab Film Festival Australia (AFFA) last month, and funded the current exhibition of a visual artist from Lebanon at the 18th Biennale of Sydney. Eight other projects emphasising the culture and diversity of Arab communities were funded by CAAR grants over the past year.
The funding came as part of CAAR’s efforts to promote between the peoples of Australia and the Arab world mutual understanding and acceptance of each other’s cultures, values, beliefs, and diversity.
Two Lebanese films that provide insights into life in Tripoli, Tayeb, Khalas, Yalla (directed by Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia), and Trab Laus (‘Tripoli’ in Arabic, a joint Australian-Lebanese production directed by Tania Safi), were screened as part of the Arab Film Festival Australia (AFFA). This year’s AFFA, which was first run in 2001, was held in Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra, with capacity crowds attending the screenings of twelve films from nine countries.
The AFFA showcases stories from Arabic-speaking peoples to diverse Australian audiences through film, reflecting the complexity and diversity of Arab experiences. A primary aim of AFFA is to address the common (mis)representations of Arab peoples and cultures by providing critical spaces to present alternative representations of Arab subjects, cultures and narratives. The Festival supports freedom of thought, expression and information, as well as diversity of screen media to enable cultural expressions to flourish.
CAAR provided a grant of $30,000 to AFFA this year, enabling the festival to screen films from Australia, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Palestine, USA, France, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
This month, the work of Lebanese artist, Khaled Sabsabi, is being exhibited as part of the 18th Biennale of Sydney – the city’s premier event for the visual arts, and a renowned fixture on the Australia arts calendar. CAAR funded the participation of Sabsabi, alongside artists from Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Morocco and the UAE. Each of the artists exhibiting their work at the Biennale was supported by a $20,000 grant from CAAR, which would help to facilitate teaching programs to diverse audiences in Sydney.
Born in 1965 in Tripoli, Khaled Sabsabi has previously worked with communities, particularly in western Sydney, to create and develop arts programs and projects that explore people and places from broad social, political, and ideological spectrums.
Also in 2011-12, CAAR provided a $25,000 grant to assist in the development of an online historical guide for travelers to Egypt, Lebanon, and Libya. The guide commemorates Australia’s involvement in the Allied Forces Sinai and Palestine campaigns of World War One, and will help travelers trace campaign sites of significance.
Other projects funded by CAAR included choral workshops, support for conferences and dialogues between Australia and the Arab world, and a tele-health collaboration project with Jordan, which sought to strengthen ties with the Arab world.
Information on CAAR’s grants funding program can be found at: