(1966, Syria) is a script writer and a novelist. His latest novel, In Praise of Hatred (2006), which appeared in Lebanon, is banned in Syria. It is about a black page in Syrian history: the unprecedented aggresssive retaliation by the Syrian government against islamists in Homs and Hama, in the 1980s. Reuters and Human Right Watch have taken action in the meantime. Khalifa is working on his fourth novel, A Parallel Life. His first, The Guard of Deception (1993) appeared in 2000 as the The Gypsy Notebooks, banned in Syria for four years. Khalifa works with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State. In 2007 he received a medal from the Ismaiiliyah International Festival for Documentaries and in 2005 a prize for the best script at het Valencia Film Festival.(WIN 2008)
Archive available for: Khaled Khalifa
Shabandar Café is a programme by Gemak, the new centre for western and non-western art, politics and debate, of The Hague Gemeentemuseum and the Vrije Academie. With Shabandar Café Gemak links up with the Winternachten festival. Gemak is named after the famous meeting place of artists and intellectuals in Bagdad. Enjoy the most refined forms of Iraqi culture: live classical Arab Moqam music, an Iraqi storyteller and poetr, a short Iraqi documentary on Café Shabandar, tea and the tastiest Iraqi snacks.
The exhisition space of Gemak has been decorated for the occasion in that of the original café, destroyed in March 2007. Honorary guests: the Arab writers taking part in festival Winternachten. An English-Arabic language programme, compiled by the Iraqi visual artist Rashad Selim.
For more information on the programme see www.gemak.org. In English and Arabic
Shabandar is the name of a café on Al Mutanabi Street
where for decades Baghdad's cultural elites met
discussing books, poetry and politics
or dropping in for a coffee after visiting the book vendors' stalls
on the busy street outside
Everybody interested in books came here
to buy them in the good years
to sell them during the sanctions
to be transported by their covers
if they were penniless
On the 5th of March 2007
one car bomb attack among many
and the book market outside
Shabandar Café has left Baghdad
even if its walls are rebuilt
5000 years of urban culture
scattered to the four corners of the Earth
This summer the Syrian writer and film maker Khaled Khalifa again got to know the limits of the freedom of expression in his country. In praise of Hatred, his novel about the Syrian agression against the muslim brothers (25 years ago), was banned in Syria. In 2000 his novel The Gypsy Notebooks suffered the same fate. In this programme he talks to Lieve Joris, author of among other books The Gates of Damascus, about being a writer, censorship and freedom of expression and religion godsdienst in secular Syria and the Arab world. Interview by the London Reuters editor Geert Linnebank. In English.
Black Stone (2006) is the first long documentary by the Syrian filmmaker Nidal Al-Dabas, who earlier made the long fiction-movie 'Under Ceiling'. Al Dabas closely co-operated with the writer Khaled Khalifa, who was co-producer and writer of the scenario. Black Stone is the name of a poor area in South-Damascus. The film follows four children who collect scrap to sell it, and help their poor families with the money. The film depicts the hard life of the children, and at the same time shows how they enjoy their lives and find space to dream. Khaled Khalifa, writer of In praise of hatred (a novel banned in Syria, set in 1982 during the clashes between islamists and the government) will introduce the documentary. In English.
This documentary replaces the earlier announced Arabic animated films by Afkar Media.