We will continue the initiative of a geographic focus on human rights through documentaries (dedicated to Africa in 2015). Putting the Middle East in the center of this focus will be crucial in complementing Exodus and EuroPains, since it is from that part of the world that migration movements are testing Europe’s political nerves as well as its steadfastness when it comes to the application of human rights these days. The films selected for this section describe a very diverse and contradictory human and social landscape, from Palestine and Israel to Egypt and from Syria to Iran.

What is the first thing coming to our minds when we think of the Middle East today, which are the images surfacing form the backs of our minds? Or, better to say, which are the Middle Eastern pictures actually reaching us through news channels, becoming etched on our memory?

More often than not, we get to hear about the Middle East simply as the ground of some of the most violent clashes nowadays, a melting pot of tensions, ravaged by wars and sectarianism. Destruction, violence, blood and death, those are the pictures seemingly defining the Middle East of today. But do we do justice to the rich and diverse cultures, of thousands of years of civilization, shared history and enlightening cultural exchange? What would have become of Europe, let us think, if the rest of the world would have turned their back on the continent in times of the world wars as a place beyond saving, where brutes live who cannot help but kill each other?

Heavy conflicts are depressing the lives of Middle Easterners day by day, nevertheless we set our goal this year in finding the most beautiful Middle Eastern documentaries – stories of love, beauty and hope – and in bringing them to the one world public: from the Middle East, with love.