‘Queer Arabs…are either liberated (and the United States and Europe are often the scene of this liberation) or can only have an irrational, pathological sexuality or queerness.’
- Jasbir Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times, 2007
Nazra / نظرة / Gaze:
1. to look steadily and intently, as with great curiosity, interest, pleasure, or wonder.
From September – December 2018, Eyes Wide Open Cinema is proud to present a season of compelling cinema focusing on queer Arab identities and experiences with films from Egypt, Israel/Occupied Palestine, Lebanon, and Iran. Over these four instalments, we shine a spotlight on work created by Arab filmmakers that explores the intricacies of race, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, and gender in ways that challenge a gaze that can often simplify, fetishise, or tokenise these complex experiences.
One of Eyes Wide Open Cinema’s main missions is to tell the untold stories of our queer communities. This is why we have titled the season Nazra (the Arabic term for ‘gaze’). Aside from having obvious parallels with our film strand’s name, it also reminds us of the importance of acknowledging the the ways in which we have been taught to conceive of those who are Arab and queer, and the importance of expanding these conceptions.
Over these four months, Nazra asks how are queer Arabs viewed both within and outside of the Arab world? What violence is being enacted when we gloss over the experiences of non-western queer communities? What stories are being told by Arab queer people in film, and why are we not seeing more of them? And what can we learn when we are not only glimpsing but fixing our gaze on the stories of people whose experiences are often pushed to the margins?