The Middle East is experiencing a moment of cultural expansion that can be seen in its e-development, the growing media industry, a transforming film culture and new practices in the production of cinema and video. The assimilation of video into Arab culture, however, has not been speedy and although it began to gain popularity as a medium in the 1980s, it has only become recognised as an art form in the last fifteen years.
Over the last twenty years, the region has witnessed an extraordinary interaction between the Arab film industry, television and the production of independent videos. Arab satellite television channels have proliferated and new venues have been established for the media, independent video directors and experimental documentary makers that have been influential not only in cities like Beirut, Cairo and Amman, but also in Teheran and Istanbul. They have their own regulations and ideas about social commitment and are creating a new visual order in the region.
Thanks to their aesthetic characteristics and the adoption of critical, analytical and conceptual positions, Middle East experimental video and investigative documentaries have been studied in many specialist essays and publications as well as in conferences and exhibitions, setting off important debates about memory, truth, and visual representation and verification. A spotlight has been cast, bringing them unprecedented international recognition and leaving old prejudices about the characteristics and quality of Middle East video in the dust.