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Changing Lives in the Middle East: cinematic responses | LSE Festival

Hosted by LSE Festival: People and Change

Wolfson Theatre, Cheng Kin Ku Building (formerly New Academic Building)


Amira Louadah

Amira Louadah

Suzannah Mirghani

Suzannah Mirghani


Dr Polly Withers

Dr Polly Withers

Film is an important medium to document our changing lived experiences and to imagine what our futures could look like. Through a selection of experimental shorts, this interactive session will explore how contemporary filmmakers from the Middle East are commenting on their own political, social and environmental changes. 

We will be showing the following short films:  

Nation Estate by Larissa Sansour (2013, 9 minutes) 

Nation Estate is a 2013 Palestinian movie directed by Larissa Sansour. It is a sci-fi short film that depicts Palestine as a skyscraper, with each floor representing a city in Palestine. 

Hind's Dream by Suzannah Mirghani (2014, 6 minutes) 

Hind, a young Bedouin woman, spends weeks alone while her husband is away hunting. Their tent is her entire world, yet her dreams and thoughts carry her miles away, over the desert, under the sea, to the fast-changing urban landscape of Doha.  

The Ark by Amira Louadah (2022, 10 minutes)  

Fateh, a coach, trains his men for a final battle against a faceless enemy. The Algeria of today becomes the theatre of a nightmarish world of tomorrow. The Ark condenses all the dramaturgy of the great stories of ecological and political collapse. The Algerian national flag raised in a final movement floats in the equivocality of a symbol that can signify both unity and division, the end of an era, and recommencing. 

Meet our speakers and chair 

Suzannah Mirghani is a writer, researcher, and independent filmmaker. Mixed-race Sudanese and Russian, she is interested in stories about the complexity of identity. Suzannah is the writer, director, and producer of Al-Sit (2020), which won 18 international awards, including three Academy Award qualifying prizes in 2021: Best of Fest at LA Shorts; Grand Prix at Tampere Film Festival; and Best Short Film at BronzeLens. Her latest short, Virtual Voice (2021), had its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival. Suzannah is working on her first feature, Cotton Queen, a magical realist tale set in the cotton fields of Sudan. 

Amira Louadah was born in Algiers. From 2014 to 2021, she studied design and visual arts at Ensci, les Ateliers de Paris, developing an enthusiasm for staging and storytelling. Her journey is marked by seminal stays, notably in Chang Maï in Thailand and New York in the United States, where she made her first field captures. She collects and deploys her perceptions in an empirical and exploratory approach. Her filmography includes La grosse moula ou li michan (2020). Her latest film L'Arche (2022) won the Renaud Victor Award at FID Marseille and was selected in the official competition at the Camden Film Festival in Rockland, the Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal, the MedFilm Festival in Rome, and The Clermont-Ferrand International Short-Film Festival.

Polly Withers is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the LSE Middle East Centre, where she leads the project “Neoliberal Visions: Gendering Consumer Culture and its Resistances in the Levant”. Polly’s interdisciplinary work questions and explores how gender, sexuality, race, and class intersect in popular culture and commercial media in the global south. She is particularly interested in examining how different media and cultural modalities frame, produce, and/or challenge dominant subjectivities and social relations in the Middle East and beyond. In her current work she considers how gendered images in neoliberal and commercial media practices reflect and communicate shifts in gender and sexuality norms in post-Oslo Palestine, which will shortly be expanded to incorporate Jordan and Lebanon. 

More about this event

This event is part of the LSE Festival: People and Change running from Monday 12 to Saturday 17 June 2023, with a series of events exploring how change affects people and how people effect change. Booking for all Festival events will open on Monday 15 May. 

The LSE Middle East Centre (@LSEMiddleEast) provides a central hub for the wide range of research on the Middle East and North Africa carried out at LSE.

Twitter hashtags for this event: #LSEFestival  

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