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Alephia 2053 – a dystopian animated film about the Arab world

The animated movie Alephia 2053 portrays a dystopian future of a fictional Arab state. It was viewed 8 million times on YouTube. A bonus for Arabic learners: it is in Standard Arabic with subtitles (English, French, Arabic).

Last updated: July 14, 2021

Alephia 2053 isn’t really suitable for a relaxing Sunday afternoon. The animated movie depicts a bleak future for the Arab world.

I have lived in Alexandria, Egypt, during the Arab Spring of 2011 and witnessed the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorial regime. It was a time of hope, followed by massive disappointment. Now, there is despair and fear. Therefore, some scenes in the film Alephia 2053 seem familiar. They could also be set in Egypt, today, in the year 2021.

Alephia 2053
screenshot of Alephia 2053

Even though the film does not refer to a specific Arab country, one can recognize events that happened in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Algeria, Jordan, Morocco (just to name a few Arab countries). The film is therefore highly political and important.

Even if you have no connection to the Arab Spring or the current political situation in many Arab countries, I can still recommend the film – for language reasons because the film is an excellent Arabic listening exercise.

What’s the story of Alephia 2053?

It is the year 2053 in the fictional Arab state of Alephia (أليفيا). The state is the world’s biggest exporter of lithium; food and fuel are strictly rationed. There are cameras everywhere which observe everyone and record everything.

We follow a group of insurgents who try to take down the ruler of the oppressive regime which is described as “the most tyrannical in the world”.

Crowds take to the streets chanting the famous Arab Spring slogan: the people demand the fall of the regime (إسقاط النظام). Armed security fire live ammunition killing many people.

Eventually, the resistance will succeed in toppling the dictator in a coup, ending a century of despotic rule.

The movie ends with a familiar scene. Crowds dismantle the statue of the fallen dictator.

Note: Watch the movie until the very end (after the credentials) as the very last scene is quite touching.

Reception in the Arab world

The animation movie was produced by a team of Lebanese artists and filmmakers. Released on YouTube a few weeks ago 2021, ten years after the Arab Spring uprisings, the 60-minute movie was watched more than eight million times.

It is “proof that the movie reflects people’s thoughts”, says Rabi’ Sweidan (ربيع سويدان), the film’s Lebanese creator and executive producer, in an interview with the news agency AFP. “Everyone sees it from their perspective and they see themselves and their communities in it.”

It is not inspired by a single Arab country but depicts conditions familiar to many systems across the world, he says. “The world has become a small village, where the situation is the same in more than one place,” Sweidan said. “Alephia could be the 23rd country in the Arab League.”

Here is an interview of Rabi’ Sweidan in English:

Not surprisingly, Egyptian (public or semi-public) Arab news outlets did not mention the movie most probably due to the heavy censorship. This is also true for most other Arab countries.

Interestingly, a short news report which, however, excluded the plot of the movie found its way into the Jordanian al-Ghad newspaper, the Algerian newspaper Echourouk, and some news outlets in the Emirates and Qatar.

Audio language and subtitles of Alephia 2053

Arabic learners should watch the film for a special reason: the dialogs are in Standard Arabic (MSA).

The film offers subtitles in three languages: English, French and Arabic.

alifa english2 1 alifa arabic2 1
screenshot youtube

I recommend watching the film twice: first with English subtitles and then again with Arabic subtitles.

Where can you watch Alephia 2053?

It is distributed on YouTube for free!

Just click on the video below or follow this link.

Note that the film is very depressing and contains some scenes that show violence and suffering.

Additional background

The filmmakers also launched an accompanying website: https://www.alephia.xyz

There you can find more information about the storyline and the fictional state of Alephia.

Any thoughts or ideas about this? Leave a comment!

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