24sep17:0018:15afikra Conversation: Randa Jarrar and Zaina Arafat17:00 - 18:15


Event Details

An afikra conversation with authors Randa Jarrar and Zaina Arafat.

Randa Jarrar is the author of the forthcoming memoir ‘Love Is An Ex-Country’, the novel ‘A Map of Home’, and the collection of stories ‘Him, Me, Muhammad Ali’. She is also a performer who has recently appeared in Hulu’s RAMY, as well as the short films GOT GAME and FINJAN.

Zaina Arafat is an LGBTQ Arab-Muslim-American fiction and nonfiction writer. She is the author of the novel, ‘You Exist Too Much’. Her stories and essays have appeared in publications including The New York Times, Granta, The Believer, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Washington Post, and more.

To register to attend:


(Thursday) 17:00 - 18:15

30sep00:0000:0000:00 - 00:00


Event Details

Directed by Yasmin Fedda

Produced by Elhum Shakerifar and Hugh Hartford 

AYOUNI | The Film Synopsis

Noura and Machi search for answers about their loved ones – Bassel Safadi and Paolo Dall’Oglio, who are among the over 100,000 forcibly disappeared in Syria. Faced with the limbo of an overwhelming absence of information, hope is the only thing they have to hold on to. ‘Ayouni‘ is a deeply resonant Arabic term of endearment – meaning ‘my eyes’ and understood as ‘my love’. Filmed over 6 years and across multiple countries in search of answers, Ayouni is an attempt to give numbers faces, to give silence a voice, and to make the invisible undeniably visible.

AYOUNI | The Context

At a time when the dictatorship in Syria is still in power, and its position is being normalised, it feels crucial to respond to the crimes that have been committed in its name, and in the wake of the destruction it has created across the country. Since 2011, government forces, and other armed groups, have forcibly disappeared at least 100,000 people – making them absent, silenced, invisible.

Families and friends of the disappeared still face the difficult tasks of finding answers. In this context, it is essential to build and preserve a portfolio of war crimes that can be used for accountability and for eventual justice. Ayouniis a small contribution to this effort, bringing intimate stories and realities in focus. 

Sadly, it is a film that also speaks to a global issue: ‘forcible disappearance’ is a recent historical and contemporary strategy used to spread fear by targeting human rights defenders, of those already disappeared, key witnesses and lawyers. It is used as a silent weapon of war in many countries in the world: from Mexico to Syria, Bangladesh to Laos, and from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Spain. This film will be particularly resonant in contexts where detention and forcible disappearance are regularly perpetrated against civilians.

The majority of those targeted in Syria are civil society activists and those who spoke out against oppression. Ayouni  provides a space to reflect on current war crimes, and underlines the difficulty for language to truly capture and express the complex emotions that forced disappearance unravels. Ayouni  renders visible what has been made absent through the personal and intimate stories of lovers Bassel and Noura, and siblings Paolo and Machi.

In the making of the film, the team has worked closely with the individuals involved, and organisations such as Families for Freedom, The Syria Campaign, Amnesty International. This film was made with support from Sanad, Doha Film Institute, Amnesty International, International Media Support & BFI through the Vision Award to Hakawati.

The silencing continues, but the voices of those forcibly disappeared are being heard loud and clear. 

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(Wednesday) 00:00 - 00:00