CRITICS WITHOUT BORDERS, Nordic countries – Middle East 2021

Critics Without Borders is a cultural exchange project with film critics and writers from the Middle East and the Nordic region. In total. The workshop will be held 7-11 ِApril. During the five-day network meeting, members will participate in both internal and public seminars, panel debates, and master classes.


Censorship and self-censorship have always been issues that writers, journalists and critics have struggled with. Self-censorship is an issue not only for Arab film critics, but also for writers from the Nordic countries. Journalists in the Nordic countries that write about sensitive political issues, such as immigration or women’s rights, have experienced a rise in threats from extremists in recent years. The problem of self-censorship is therefore highly relevant in a discussion of democracy and the freedom of speech both in the Nordic and Arab countries. We believe that film criticism and cultural writing can be important tools in bringing about change and working towards democratisation. Today we live in a society that always has information at their fingertips, but this society does not always examine this information. The role of the film critic is to examine the film, put it in perspective and in context.

We want to turn the attention to the critics since they have the special power of highlighting important societal issues.

  • The film market is a male-dominated field, and it is vital therefore that film critics engage in discussions of gender inequality and discrimination. We will strive to have gender equality among the participants and a mix of ages.
  • All critics must struggle with some sort of censorship, we want to examine what censorship means in different contexts.
  • Democracy and freedom through film, what does this mean?



Before the workshop project, all participants will have time to read and look at each others work as well as prepare for the discussions. The themes we will be focusing on concern democracy, freedom of expression, the relationship between the Nordic / Western world respectively Arab countries socially, politically and cinematographically.

Critics Without Borders, Nordic countries – Middle East 2021

Critics Without Borders, Nordic countries- Middle East 2021 seeks to highlight the role that film criticism can play in strengthening democracy and the freedom of speech. Some would argue that the genre of film criticism is not affected by the tough media climate and assume that film criticism is “merely” about art, references and opinions. The aim of Critics Without Borders is to disconcert such views. The project aims to show, discuss, and highlight how film and film criticism can be highly important in strengthening democracy and the freedom of speech. The problem that the project seeks to address is how film criticism can play a role in bringing about change and raise awareness about delicate political and social issues. The project will discuss the role of the film critic in the contemporary media landscape and debate issues concerning how to handle censorship and self-censorship.

In advance of the project days in Malmö, the participants will have time to read and look at each others previous work, as well as prepare for discussing themes of democracy, freedom of speech and censorship/self-censorship. During the workshop, the participants will enter discussions about these themes. Some discussions will be for the participants only, some will be public. They will also take part in seminars and master classes. At each debate or discussion, the proceedings will be documented. The product of this workshop, as we see it, will be a paper that ties together the five days of workshops. The paper will be based on the documented discussions and debates and it will be written by three of the participants. The publication will be bilingual (English and Arabic), and published on our website.

The prospect of making the participants’ debates and panel discussions in to a paper, will enable the film critics to continue to work together, collaborate, and contribute to the creation of for the future sustainable network of film critics. Through the work with the paper, the participants will continue to be active in the questions that the project seeks to address. Moreover, the publication will hopefully engage writers and filmmakers that have not been project participants.

Activities of “Critics without Borders” 2021

  • A seminar whose subject will be determined later and in which all participants will present their research papers.
  • Panel discussions, networking sessions and master classes.
  • A collective article, in which all the participants will contribute during their presence in Malmö.

Who is eligible to participate?

  • The applicant must be a citizen of one of the following countries: Denmark, Finland, Iraq, Iceland, Jordan, Lebanon, Norway, Palestine, Sweden and Syria.
  • The applicant must be practicing film criticism in one or more written, visual or audio media.
  • The applicant must not be less than 18 years old.


Acceptance requirements

  • To agree to participate in the program activities during the period of Malmö Arab Film Festival, in which the festival holds the right to photograph, record, stream or broadcast all activities and sessions through its official platforms or in any other media.
  • To agree to write a research paper, whose topic and size will be discussed after acceptance with the forum coordinator.

To apply to participate in “Critics without Borders – Middle East 2021” click here