The 14th edition of the FMA (Festival du Monde Arabe de Montréal) is packed with concerts, exhibitions, lectures, and films that represent the diverse cultural range and experimentation of Arab artists and thinkers.
Concerts and shows include the “scandalous” Cheba Zahouania, the queen of traditional and modern raï. Raï is a type of music originating in Algeria that is sung at weddings and tribal festivals. However, instead of celebrating the typical values (religion, moral approaches to alcohol and sex), Zahouania sings about failed relationships, infidelity, and the troubles of women. Cheba Zahouania performs at Club Soda Oct 27, 8 p.m., $29/$49.
André Daneau gives a free performance that fuses Quebec beats with world music. Another free show is the Ladom Ensemble, a Montreal-Toronto group that takes its inspiration from places that range from Persia to the Balkans. André Daneau performs at Espace Georges Emile LaPalme at Place des Arts on Oct 28. noon. Ladom Ensemble performs at L’Escalier on Oct 29 at 5 p.m. Both events are free.
Fans of the oud (that’s an instrument), will want to catch Oudistique. This emblem of Oriental music will show its many faces in the hands of masters from around the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and even Quebec, showing off a variety of styles that range from traditional to jazz to contemporary arrangements. Oudistique performs at Cinquieme Salle at Place des Arts on Nov 2. $22.
Ontario’s Azalea Ray brings electronic beats, jazz, and contemporary sound to classical Indian repetory and Sufi trance. Azalea Ray’s Qawwali is at Studio Theatre at Place des Arts on Nov 3. $25.
Lyon’s Trio Bassma takes the works of poets Mahmoud Darwich, Adonis and Youssef Al Khal as inspiration for their contemporary compositions. The trio has different backgrounds but shares a love for Oriental sounds, so much so that they conduct research and intensive field surveys in the Middle East to explore the oral musical tradition of the region. Bassma performs at Studio Theatre at Place des Arts on November 6. $25.
The FMA curated its own group of musicians to create Tribales. This production includes artists from Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, and Quebec who come together to explore Bedouin, Arab, and Berber musical traditions. Tribales performs Nov. 8, 8 p.m., at Theatre Maisonneuve at Place des Arts. $25/$35/$45.
Four films are screening for the festival. Line of Sight (Oct 26, in Arabic with French st, 7 p.m.) follows the depressed Laia as she attempts to stop a thief from stealing her car (Oct 26). Andalusia, My Love (Oct 26 in Arabic and French with French subtitles, 9 p.m.) traces two students Said and Amine as they attempt to reach Europe and follow different routes as a result of their failed attempt to sail there. Daniel Joseph’s Taxi Ballad (Oct 27, in Arabic with French subtitles, 7 p.m.) has Youssef aspiring to become the greatest taxi driver in cross paths with Jordan, a bored American pilates instructor with no customers. Would You Have Sex with an Arab? (Oct. 27, in Arabic, hebrew, and english with French subtitles, 9 p.m.) uses a handheld camera to record the responses of unsuspecting late night party goers to the question “Would you have sex with an Arab?” or “Would you have sex with an Israeli Jew?”
The four films are screening at the Cinema du Parc.$11.50/$8.50