The International Yemeni Film & Arts Festival in 2015

The first International Yemeni Arts & Film Festival to be held in Germany was a week full of encounters and exchange. From 2 –5 June 2015, diverse documentaries, short films and photographic exhibition from Yemen were shown in Marburg and Leipzig. The 2014 Oscar nominated film Karama Has No Walls by filmmaker Sara Ishaq was part of the program. In both cities, the film screenings finished with top-class panel discussions on the current situation in Yemen. With more than 250 festival guests and a sold-out finalevent, the festival was a complete success.

Program of the festival in 2015: Marburg and Leipzig

Media response: (in German only)
HROnline, Leipziger Internet Zeitung, Frankfurter Neue Presse, Focus, OP Marburg, Welt, Radio Blau, LVZ, Radio Corax

Panel discussants:
The Yemeni filmmaker and journalist Nawal al-Maghafi works for different news agencies, such as Reuters, TV channels like Channel 4, BBC Newsnight, BBC World and BBC Arabic. During the Arab Spring, Nawal reported from places not covered by the mass media. She was one of the first journalists to travel to the governorate of Saadah, and led an exclusive interview with the former leader of the Houthis Mohammad Badradin al-Houthi. Nawal made undercover reportages on the Shiite population in Saudi Arabia. She has also reported on the issue of numerous Ethiopian refugees that are kidnapped in Yemen on their way to Saudi Arabia and tortured by the Yemeni military.

Sara Ishaq is a Yemeni-Scottish filmmaker who studied at the University of Edinburgh and holds a Master of Fine Arts in film directing. During the Yemeni protests in 2011, she began working for BBC Radio and BBC World Service. In 2012, she finished her documentary film Karama Has No Walls that was nominated for the Oscar in 2014. Sara works to develop the local Yemeni film production industry and has founded her own film production house Setara Films. Sara initiated the anti-war campaign #KefayaWar that speaks out against internal and external aggression in Yemen. She also supports Yemenis that are stranded in Egypt because of the war and collects donations for their medicine and accommodation.

Amal Nasser is an economist and finished her Master in Industrial Economics at the Technical University of Berlin. She is a blogger, writes about politics and society in Yemen and has worked for different online news channels. Amal co-founded the ArabHub Berlin, an online platform for Berlin inhabitants to discuss current political, social and economic changes in the Arab countries and to organize cultural music, film and art events.

Marie-Christine Heinze is board president of CARPO (Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient). Since 2008 she has regularly worked as consultant for development and political change in Yemen. Between 2012 and 2014 she led a research project on the Arab Spring in Yemen at the University of Bonn in cooperation with a Yemeni partner institution. In 2015, she submitted her dissertation on material culture and social change in Yemen at the Social Anthropology department of the University of Bielefeld. Marie is the editor of the Jemen-Report, the journal of the German-Yemeni Society.

Mareike Transfeld currently works as research associate at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, where she researches for the project “Elite change and new social mobilization in the Arab World”. Before that, Marieke was head of research at the Yemen Polling Center in Sanaa. She holds a Master degree in political science, Islamic science and modern from the University of Erlangen. From her youth onwards, Mareike has lived more than eight years in Sanaa.

Anne-Linda Amira Augustin moderated the panel discussions. She is a Yemen researcher at the Philipps-University of Marburg and board member of the German-Yemeni Society.

In cooperation with:
Yemen Peace Project, research network "Re-Configurations. History, Remembrance and Transformation Processes in the Middle East and North Africa" at the Philipps-University of Marburg funded by the BMBF, student representatives of the Peace and Conflict Studies of the Philipps-University of Marburg, eurient e.V. Association for trans-Mediterranean cultural dialogue, Cineding Leipzig, Capitol Marburg

Impressions from the festival:


The shadow play by students of the Peace and Conflict Studies of the Philipps-University of Marburg on 2 June 2015. (Pic. by A. Augustin)


Marburg guests look at the photographs of the festival on 2 June 2015. (Pic. by Lukas Eger)



The panel discussants and the hard-working festival team at dinner in Marburg on 2 June 2015. (Pic. by A. Augustin)


The panel discussants and members of the German-Yemeni Society visit Marburg on 3 June 2015. (Pic. by A. Augustin)



Meeting of German-Yemeni Society members with Sara Ishaq in Berlin on 3 June 3 2015. (Pic. by Mareike Transfeld)



Heiner Walther, advisory member of the German-Yemeni Society, takes care of the stand in Leipzig on 4 June 2015. (Pic. by A. Augustin)



Festival photo exhibition in Leipzig on 4 June 2015. (Pic. by A. Augustin)



Sara Ishaq and Amal Nasser on the panel discussion in Leipzig on 5 June 2015. (Pic. by Christopher Resch)



Visitors of the festival at the buffet in Leipzig on 5 June 2015. (Pic. by A. Augustin)



Waiting at the buffet in Leipzig on 5 June 2015. (Pic. by Christopher Resch)