Weekly Lectures & Films

The NVIC organises weekly lectures (on Thursday) and films (on Sunday) on a variety of subjects. We are looking forward to welcoming you at the institute!

Films: NVICinema

On Sunday evenings the NVIC is presenting NVICinema. We bring a varied programme of Dutch or Flemish films, Egyptian classics as well as contemporary Egyptian feature films and short films from young talented directors, all with English subtitles.  

Whenever possible we organise lively discussions with the films' directors after the screenings.
All films start at 7.30pm – doors open from 7 pm.

In March six years ago, the first anti-regime demonstrations erupted in the Syria. With several documentaries and interesting lectures, we want to focus on different aspects of Syria and its people during the whole month.

Keep checking this website and our Facebook page for more information about the programme.    

On the Bride’s Side

Sunday 05 March

Antonie Augugliaro, Gabriele Del Grande, Khaled Soliman Al Nassiry – Italy – 2014

A Palestinian poet and an Italian journalist meet five Palestinians and Syrians in Milan. They entered Europe via the Italian island of Lampedusa after fleeing the war in Syria. They decide to help them complete their journey to Sweden – and hopefully avoid getting themselves arrested as traffickers – by faking a wedding. With a Palestinian friend dressed up as the bride and a dozen or so Italian and Syrian friends as wedding guests, they cross halfway over Europe on a four-day journey of three thousand kilometers.

This emotionally charged journey not only brings out the stories and hopes and dreams of the five Palestinians and Syrians and their rather special traffickers, but also reveals an unknown side of Europe – a transnational, supportive and irreverent Europe that ridicules the laws and restrictions of the Fortress in a kind of masquerade which is no other than the direct filming of something that really took place on the road from Milan to Stockholm from the fourteenth to the eighteenth of November 2013.

‘On the Bride’s Side’ is a documentary and a political act. It’s both a real and a fantastic story that takes you along the same roads that thousands of refugees took on their way across Europe. The film traveled along numerous film festivals all over the world and won several awards.
Language: Arabic, English, Italian (English subtitles)
Duration: 89 minutes   

Return to Homs

Sunday 12 March

Talal Derki – Syria/Germany –2013

Filmed between August 2011 and August 2013, this is a remarkably intimate portrait of a group of young revolutionaries in the city of Homs in western Syria. They dream of their country being free from President Bashar al-Assad and fight for justice through peaceful demonstrations. As the army acts ever more brutally and their city is transformed into a ghost town, the young men become armed insurgents.

The protagonists are two friends: Basset, the charismatic 19-year-old goalkeeper of the national soccer team whose revolutionary songs make him the voice of the protest movement, and the 24-year-old media activist and cameraman Ossama. The close-up camerawork takes the viewer right into the group. Scenes of lively protest parties make way for panicking civilians on the run, followed by grim battles in a deserted city, and rising numbers of fallen loved ones. Basset's a cappella protest songs are the only soundtrack, apart from the "silence, interrupted only by birds and bullets." From time to time, the director makes a comment in voice-over: “The world is watching how we are getting killed one by one, while it remains silent as the grave.”

‘Return to Homs’ premiered at the Sundance Festival where it won the Award for Best Documentary. According to ‘Variety’ The film “represents a remarkable achievement in immersive conflict-zone filmmaking.”

Language: Arabic (English subtitles)
Duration: 89 minutes

A Syrian Love Story

Sunday 19 March

Sean McAllister – United Kingdom – 2015

Amer, 45, met Raghda, 40, in a Syrian prison cell 15 years ago. He first saw her bloodied face after a beating when she was placed in a neighboring cell. Over months they communicated through a tiny hole they’d secretly made in the wall. They fell in love and when released got married and started a family together.

When McAllister first meets their family in 2009, Raghda is back in prison leaving Amer to look after their 4 boys alone; but as the ‘Arab Spring’ sweeps the region, the family’s fate shifts irrevocably.

This intimate family portrait helps us to understand why people are literally dying for change in the Arab world. Yet, as Raghda is released from prison, filmmaker Sean McAllister himself is arrested for filming and the political pressure around all activists intensifies. The family flees to Lebanon, and then to France where they are given political asylum in the sleepy town of Albi, where they now watch the revolution from afar, waiting for Assad to fall.

Filmed over 5 years, the film charts their incredible odyssey to political freedom. For Raghda and Amer, it is a journey of hope, dreams and despair: for the revolution, their homeland and each other.

Language: English, Arabic (English subtitles)
Duration: 76 minutes

Zaatari Djinn

Sunday 26 March

Catherine van Campen – The Netherlands – 2016

In the middle of the Jordanian desert, where there's nothing but sand, unbearable summers and winters with snowstorms, a few tents were set up for a couple of hundred Syrian refugees. Then, quick as lightning, improvised shacks and caravans were attached to new tents and out of nothing arose Zaatari, a new city, the population of which is 60% children.
Through the eyes of four children, we get to see and feel what it is like to grow up in this place, with very few resources or prospects, but with an enormous scope for dreams. Zaatari may be a place without a history or a future, but for the children it is a home.

Zaatari Djinn was warmly received when it premiered at the renowned IDFA Documentary Festival in Amsterdam: “The film is a tribute to life, made by a great director. This is a great piece of art.” The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Ruth Vandewalle. She was production manager of the film and travelled to Zaatari refugee camp several times for the research and filming of  ‘Zaatari Djinn’. You’re most welcome to ask all your questions!

Language: Arabic (English subtitles)
Duration: 90 minutes  


The NVIC organises weekly Thursday lectures on a variety of subjects. The lectures start at 6 pm sharp. The doors open at 5.30 pm. Please note that seating is limited. The lectures start as scheduled and late admissions are not allowed. After the lecture refreshments will be served in the hall of the Institute.
You are invited to a lecture about History of Archaeology followed by a series of lectures about Syria to be announced. Keep checking this website and our Facebook page for more information on speakers, topics and times. We are looking forward to welcoming you again in March!

Would you like to present your own academic research at NVIC? We are looking for professionals who would like to give a lecture about their research findings. Please email info@nvic.leidenuniv.nl for more information.

Giovanni Anastasi (±1780-1860): Notes on a Forgotten Consul-Collector

Thursday, 3 March 2017

Vincent Verschoor

In the early 19th century, fuelled by the interest in ancient Egypt after the publication of the Description de l'Égypte, various diplomatic representatives began collecting and selling antiquities as a lucrative sideline. Henry Salt and Bernardino Drovetti are among the best known and most notorious actors in what has been styled the 'War of the Consuls', but others also vied for pieces of Egyptian history.

The Greek Giovanni Anastasi, Consul for Sweden, was also able to amass a sizeable assemblage, which would later form the nucleus of several Egyptian museums, including that of the Dutch National Museum of Archaeology in Leiden. Many of the museum’s prized pieces from Saqqara, including the statues of Maya and Merit, the reliefs of Horemheb and the chapel of Paatonemheb, all stem from the 1828 purchase of Anastasi’s first collection. Despite the importance of his activities and collections, Anastasi’s biography remains largely unknown and barely fills a page. This presentation strives to redress this omission.

Vincent Verschoor studied Egyptian Archaeology and also Maritime History at the Leiden University. As board member of the Friends of Saqqara Foundation (a non-profit organization that strives to support the Leiden archaeological mission, http://www.saqqara.nl/), he is Treasurer for the Foundation and also Editor-in-Chief of the Saqqara Newsletter.

The number of seats is limited so coming in time is advised. We open our doors at 5:30 and close them at 6:15 or earlier in case the lecture room has reached its full capacity.

Poetry reading

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Rasha Omran

As part of NVIC'S Syria month, we are organising an evening with the acclaimed Syrian poet Rasha Omran.

Rasha Omran is a Syrian poet, currently living in Cairo. Born in Tartus, Syria, Rasha has a degree in Arabic literature in Damascus University, and has been a central figure in Syrian literary and intellectual movements. Rasha was the director of Al-Sindiyan festival of culture until 2010. She has published six poetry collections and writes for various Arabic journals.

Rasha Omran will read poems from her new work as well as some unpublished pieces.

Please note the readings will be in Arabic.

Our doors open at 5:30 and close at 6:15 or earlier in case the lecture room has reached its full capacity

Syria between Resistance and Revolution: Mobilisation and Self-Administration in Rebel Syria

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Aurora Sottimano

The civil movement that emerged from the beginning of the Syrian uprising and its autonomous administration structures offer important elements to understand the Syrian conflict and inform a viable post-conflict strategy of governance, which are nevertheless overlooked by the current focus on jihadi terrorism.
‘Resistance’ and ‘revolution’ are the two poles of the ongoing conflict. From the 1963 Ba'thist ‘revolution from above’ to the 2011 anti-regime uprising, the notion of revolution has taken new and strongly contested meanings, while the ‘resistance front’ (grouping Syria, Iran and Hezbollah) has undergone a radical transformation from its original ‘liberation movement’ ethos to the present counterinsurgency alliance.

An assessment of the trajectory of the Assad regime policies and the parallel transformation in the ‘resistance’ and ‘revolution’ discourses will help to understand the magnitude of the ongoing change and the importance of autonomous local councils as pioneer experiments in a transition from authoritarian rule.

Aurora Sottimano is a Visiting Lecturer at the Centre of International Studies (CEI-IUL), Lisbon, Portugal, and a Senior Fellow of the Center for Syrian Studies at St. Andrews University (Scotland). She holds a PhD degree in Politics from the University of London, SOAS (SOAS University of London), and a Laurea degree from the University of Turin, Italy (Università degli Studi di Torino). Prior to joining the CEI- IUL, she was a Lecturer in the Political Science Department at the British University in Egypt, a post-doctoral Research Fellow at the OIB Orient-Institut Beirut, Lebanon and a Researcher at University of Amsterdam / Universiteit van Amsterdam/HIVOS (Netherlands).

Her publications include “Building Authoritarian ‘Legitimacy’: Domestic Compliance and International Standing of Bashar al-Asad’s Syria” in Global Discourse: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Current Affairs and Applied Contemporary Thought 6, no. 3, 2016 and “Nationalism and reform under Bashar al-Asad” in Raymond Hinnebusc and Tina Zintl (eds.), Syria under Bashar al Asad, 2000-2010: Political-Economy and International Relations, Syracuse University Press, 2015.

Her fields of interest are: Middle East politics and international relations; the political economy of liberalisation; authoritarianism and the construction of legitimacy and compliance; migration and refugee politics; social and labour mobilisation.

The number of seats is limited so coming in time is advised. We open our doors at 5:30 and close them at 6:15 or earlier in case the lecture room has reached its full capacity.

Excavated in Egypt and revived in Northern Europe: Continuity of human taste in printed textiles

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Georg Stark

The speaker will introduce us to the textile trade from the "good old days" in the Netherlands and Germany. He will speak about the genuine roots (in India) and then speak about some surprising new findings in Egypt, esp. the transfer of patterns from India via Egypt into "classical" European printing workshops.

This special famous craft will be explained in its European tradition with the famous sayings about the "Blue Wonder." The cultural impact of 17th century Asia esp. India will be discussed and the continuity of classical Indian textile patterns - excavated at Qusair - in the taste and fashions of European people will be shown.

After studying history at the university of Hanover, Georg Stark began researching indigo dying - almost forgotten trade. He opened a workshop in 1985 and since then he earned his living from that.His workshop is constructed as a living museum where visitors can watch the processes of printing and dying. Stark is a member of the north-German society of museums and at the same time member of the chamber of craft. His research is supported by the German ministry of science and culture. His latest research work was conducted in Japan at Tokushima, where he helped prepare an exhibition about the indigo-heritages of both countries.

Last Modified: 13-03-2017