Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 121: Tue Apr 30

Leila and the Wolves (Srour, 1984): ICA Cinema, 6.30pm

This is the closing night film in the Open City Documentary Festival of 2024. Details here.

ICA introduction:
It took Heiny Srour six years to make Leila and the Wolves, a film that reveals a hidden past of women’s struggle in Palestine and Lebanon in an attempt to rewrite the history of the region from a feminist point of view. As John Akomfrah has written, Leila and the Wolves “weaves a rich tableau of history, folklore, myth and archival material.” The film is structured in a series of sketches, each of which features the same actors. The female protagonist (Nabila Zeitoni) is a modern Lebanese woman living in London, where she is staging a photography exhibition in which women are the unsung heroines and martyrs of political conflict. She time travels through the 1900s to the 1980s, wandering through real and imaginary landscapes of Lebanon and Palestine. In an interview from 2020, the filmmaker says: “Nowadays, Leila and the Wolves is travelling the world again, more relevant than ever; my unconscious and the collective unconscious of the women of the Middle East spoke together throughout the extreme conditions of making this film.”

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of its release, we are honoured to close the 2024 edition of Open City Documentary Festival with a new digital restoration of Leila and the Wolves, co-presented with Cinenova. Cinenova is a volunteer-run organisation preserving and distributing the work of feminist film and video makers. Leila and the Wolves was originally distributed in the UK by Cinema of Women, one of Cinenova’s predecessor organisations.  

With an introduction by Nadia Yahlom (Sarha Collective)

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