Lady Kul El-Arab

A film by Ibtisam Salh Mara'ana

Lady Kul El-Arab

Duah Fares is the first girl from the Druze culture, an Islamic branch living chiefly in Israel, Syria and Lebanon, to participate in the Lady Kul el Arab beauty pageant for Arab women in Israel. Guided by fashion designer Jack Yaakob, she outshines all her rivals, and under her stage name Angelina, she also takes part in the more prestigious Miss Israel contest. Its winner might move on to the worldwide Miss Universe pageant and an international career. But what begins as a fairytale turns to harsh reality when Duah hears that for the Miss Israel contest, she has to walk the catwalk in a swimsuit. This results in death threats to her and her family from their strictly Islamic fellow villagers. As in her previous films Paradise Lost and Three Times Divorced, director Ibtisam Mara'ana focuses on the position of women in the Arab-Israeli world. Like her mother before her, Duah/Angelina is caught between her youthful ambitions and the restrictions imposed on her by the older generation. Nevertheless, the differences between these two generations of liberated women provide a little hope for Duah's younger sister, who is already practicing her model's walk in the background.

Lady Kul el-Arab which sets out as a glamorous film about a beauty pageant, turns into a moving story of a family caught between cultures. In her fifth film, director Ibtisam Mara’ana succeeds in delicately drawing the dramatic and touching portrait of a young woman who finds herself at the heart of a struggle which fascinates the whole country.

About the director:

Ibtisam was born in 1975 in Faradis, a Muslim, Arab, working class village in the north of Israel. At the age of 18 Ibtisam was accepted to film school where she began to create without previously ever having seen a film in a cinema.

Her first commercial release, Paradise Lost, is considered to be the first film to be made from the perspective of a Palestinian woman.

Her films explore gender, class, racism, collective and individual identity, history, the present and dreams for the future. They are a platform for bold and brave filmmaking which confronts taboos, examines and deconstructs structures of oppression.

The more society, both Israeli-Jewish and Palestinian, oppose Ibtisam's honesty and ideals, the deeper her work goes with an increasing network of supporters and creative-collaborators both locally and internationally.


Goel Pinto, Ynet, July 27, 2008:

"[...] as in all of the films that Mara'ana has directed, 'Lady Kul-al-Arab' is not a film about a hero, but about a survivor. Mara'ana knows women. Her camera follows, excavates and probes women's lives - something she has been doing for the last 10 years. She respects women's place, whether they are following the straight and narrow, or whether they dare to break through the lines."

Shai Ginsburg, Jewish Film Festival Diary, July 23, 2009:

"what seems at first to be a simple story of a young woman's aspirations to move beyond her community into the 'big world,' turns into an account of the ensuing conflict between traditional and liberal values, between the patriarchal tradition in which Duah was raised and the free, progressive state to which she would like to move."


Best Documentary Award - Sole & Luna International Documentary Film Festival, Palermo, Italy, 2009; Best Documentary - Mediterranean Film Section/Sole & Luna Int'l Film Festival, Italy, 2009; Best Documentary - Zagreb Int'l Documentary Film Festival, Croatia, 2009; Special Mention - Sguardi Altrove International Women Film Festival, Italy, 2009; Best Directing Award- New Delhi International Women Film Festival, India, 2008; Grand Prix - Mediterranean film festival 2009; Mediterranean prize - International Documentary Film festival on the Islamic Cultures, Palrmo; Special Jury Award - IDFA Silver Wolf Competition, The Netherlands, 2008.


Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival, USA, 2009; Nashville Jewish Film Festival, USA, 2009; Contra Costa Jewish Film Festival, USA, 2010; Vancouver Jewish Film Festival, Canada, 2009; Cape Town Israeli Documentary Film Festival, South Africa, 2009; San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, USA, 2009; Israfest Israeli Film Festival, Los Angeles, USA, 2009; Sole e Luna Int'l Festival, Palermo, Italy, 2009; Lemesos Int'l Film Festival, Greece, 2009; Palm Beach Int'l Film Festival, USA, 2009; Gdansk International Documentary Film Festival, Poland, 2009; Seattle Jewish Film Festival, USA, 2009; The Screening Room, Washington, 2009; Warsaw Jewish Motifs Film Festival, Poland, 2009; Full Frame International Documentary Film Festival, USA, 2009; Seattle Jewish Film Festival, USA, 2009; Sguardi Altrove Int'l Women Film Festival, Italy, 2009; Tunis International Documentary Film Festival, Tunisia, 2009; Hong Kong International Film Festival, 2009; Tempo International Documentary Film Festival, Sweden, 2009; Herzliya Cinematheque, Israel, 2009; Vienna Int'l Women Film Festival, Austria, 2009; Zagreb Int'l Documentary Film Festival, Croatia, 2009; Seoul International Women Film Festival, Korea, 2009; San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, USA, 2009; Suriname Int'l Documentary Film Festival, 2009; Palestinian-Israeli Film Week, Munich, Germany, 2009; New Delhi International Women Film Festival, 2008; Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema, USA, 2008; The Other Israel Film Festival, 2008; IDFA - Amsterdam Documentary Film Festival, The Netherlands, 2008; Bangkok Int'l Film Festival, Thailand, 2008; Jerusalem Int'l Film Festival - The Wolgin Awards Competition, 2008.

Special screening at Universities:

Georgetown University; Urbana Jewish Federation Library; Wisconsin Madison University; Brandeis University; University of Texas; University of Amherst; University of Boston; Princeton University; Michigan State University; Duke University; Princeton University; University of Massachusetts; Stanford University; Maryland University.


Ottawa (Canada)
Arizona State (Tempe AZ)
Brandon University Library-Canada
Brown University (Providence RI)
Concordia University Library (Edmonton)
Dickenson College (Carlisle, PA)
Duke University (Durham, NC)
Dusseldorf (Germany)
East Washington University (WA)
Florida University (Gainesville, FL)
Georgetown University (Washington DC)
Grand Prarie College-Canada
Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
Jewish Video Library Seattle
Maryland University (College Park, MD)
Massachusetts University (Amhers, MA)
Mcgill University (Canada)
Melbourne University (Australia)
Middlebury College Library VT
Ottawa Jewish Public Library
Pan American University (Edinburg, TX)
Tennessee University Library
Texas University (San Antonio, TX)
Wyoming University
Yale University

Lady Kul El Arab has all the ingredients for compelling cinema—strong, resolute characters; a well-structured, adeptly paced story; and a provocative social and cultural context [...] Lady Kul el Arab subtly calls to question the traditions and mores of that society, while delivering a gripping story of a young iconoclast. ”
— The Jury's Verdict for the Jury Award, IDFA, 2008

About the Film

Director: Ibtisam Salh Mara'ana
Producers: Barak Heymann, Timna Goldstein-Hattav
Screenwriter: Ibtisam Salh Mara'ana
Editor: Erez Laufer, Miri Laufer
Cinematographers: Ibtisam Mara'ana, Itai Raziel, Rami Katzav
Original Score: Avi Belleli


Documentary – Israel Studies, Minorities, Women Studies, Middle East, Multicultural (56 min)





To place an order, please contact Nahum Laufer.

Fax: 972-3-5291726
Mail: Shlomo Hamelech 93 #5, Tel-Aviv 6451228



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