Euphrates-Redding partnered with Festival Cinema Invisible to bring several Middle East world premier films

Festival Cinema Invisible (FCI) and the Redding chapter of the Euphrates Institute, in partnership with the Shasta County Arts Council, hosted a successful international film festival “The Best of Festival Cinema Invisible” January 6-7, 2017 at Old City Hall. Despite unusual snowy weather, turnout was robust and individuals from the community took in a vast array of 44 films from the Middle East.FCI is a New York-based film venue in its sixth year, and this special edition of the annual festival was exclusive to Redding, CA, and showcased premier films exclusive to Redding and sneak-previewed films set to be screened at the April 2017 New York festival. Some favorites included "Zaina's Cake", a film from a female Saudi filmmaker, relating the story of a new college graduate in Jeddah who is struggling to start a cup caking business without her father's approval. Another was "Back Vocal," which explored the prohibition of female solo singing in Iran, telling the story of female vocalists striving to be heard 24 years after the Islamic revolution.FCI founder and President Mahmood Karimi-Hakak regaled audience members with commentary about the films and directors, as well as his personal experiences in Iran and then moving to the U.S. He commented, “We hope our audience will come away with a greater understanding of the people of the MENA region, and that FCI can play a role in facilitating communication and understanding among nations, peoples and communities.”Director of Public Affairs and Cultural Exchange Candace Burnham said, “I grew up in Redding and my family still lives here, so I’ve seen the arts community flourish over the years. It’s a really exciting time to bring this festival to Redding and we hope film enthusiasts loved our program of compelling MENA films. We will be back next year!”“We are thrilled to present these moving, captivating and thought-provoking films in Redding,” said Festival Cinema Invisible Artistic Director Scott Collins. “Film is a unique medium in that it’s accessible and can transcend borders and help break stereotypes. ‘The Best of Festival Cinema Invisible’ program featured films that are based in historical and cultural traditions, but also unpack sensitive ideas of identity, childhood, disability, exile, conflict, gender, immigration, political upheaval and censorship.” Euphrates Institute founder Janessa Gans Wilder agreed: "FCI is one of those avenues to help us see more clearly and understand more deeply, the invisible 'Other'--whether it's people from the Middle East, women, children, minority communities, who are so often marginalized and silenced. In opening our eyes and hearts, we gained more compassion and practice with turning the 'Other' into our brother.Festival Cinema Invisible (FCI) is an independent, not-for-profit venue dedicated to the celebration of Middle Eastern arts and cinema. FCI believes there are several characteristics that can make a film “invisible”- hidden themes, being subjected to censorship in its country of origin and/or forgotten or ignored subject matter (among others). During its previous five annual festivals, FCI Festivals featured over 150 films from Iran and the broader region that were world, North America, national and regional premiers.   More information about FCI and “The Best of Festival Cinema Invisible” can be found on its website, or its Facebook, President Mahmood Karimi-Hakak is a poet, author, translator and theatre and filmmaker, who has written, produced, directed, and designed over 50 stage and screenplays in the U.S., Europe and Iran.  His plays and films have received international acclaim and awards at festivals such as Edinburgh, Netherlands, Berlin, Delhi, Montreal, New York, Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles and Tehran. A recipient of the 2009 Fulbright, and 2005 Raymond Kennedy awards, Karimi-Hakak’s literary credits include six plays, two books of poetry, several translations from and into the Persian language and numerous articles and interviews both in English and Persian.