The 27th Annual Arabian Sights Film Festival
April 21 – May 1, 2022

The Arabian Sights Film Festival will be presented in conjunction with the 36th annual Washington, DC International Film Festival, the umbrella organization of Arabian Sights.
This year's festival will be hybrid, with in-person screenings in addition to virtual streaming.

For complete film details, visit Filmfest DC.

Please look for the Filmfest DC catalog in the Friday, April 15 edition of The Washington Post.
Tickets go on Sale April 1

A Festival of Films, a Festival of Stories

Happy viewing!

Featured in Arabian Sights this year


MOHAMED DIAB - Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Saudi Arabia - 2021 - 98 mins - View trailer

Palestinian teenager Amira (Tara Abboud) has only known her freedom-fighter father, Nawar (a gentle performance by Ali Suleiman), in snatched minutes together separated by glass; it's an open secret that she was conceived with sperm smuggled out of the Israeli prison where he is held. Being a "daughter of a hero" is a big part of her identity, but events unfold that reveal the vast difference between paternity and patriarchy.

In Arabic with English subtitles


Beirut: Eye of the Storm

MAI MASRI - Lebanon, France - 2021 - 75 mins - View trailer

What if they gave a revolution and Covid came? Not long after the massive October 2019 demonstrations in Beirut aimed at toppling Lebanon's chronically corrupt government, the streets that had exploded with chanting and hope (followed by tear gas and gunfire) were eerily quiet. The pandemic had forced optimism into lockdown, and the country’s economy was in freefall. Four female journalist-artists reflect on this whiplash effect in Mai Masri’s creative, captivating documentary.

In Arabic with English subtitles


Casablanca Beats

NABIL AYOUCH - Morocco, France - 2021 - 101 mins - View trailer

Rapper-turned-teacher Anas Basbousi arrives in Sidi Moumen—Casablanca's Bronx—to teach hip-hop to scrappy or shy, opinionated or open youths who have all written their earnest raps before class even starts. Anas claims that rap is born of humiliation, and his students and their lyrics will go through some changes before this high-spirited, street-music-infused film is over. The young nonprofessional actors playing fictionalized versions of themselves hone their considerable talents before our eyes.

In Arabic with English subtitles

Costa Brava, Lebanon

MOUNIA AKL - Lebanon, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Qatar - 2021 - 107 mins - View trailer

The Badri family escapes Beirut's physical and mental toxins by living off the grid far above the city. But their idle is broken when a landfill is built right outside their fence, bringing the "garbage" of government corruption to their door. In this spirited film, Variety noted "Akl's perceptive writing of this family as a collection of singular individuals who just so happen to be related to one another."

In Arabic with English subtitles

Peace by Chocolate

JONATHAN KEIJSER - Canada - 2021 - 96 mins - View trailer

After fleeing Damascus when the family's thriving chocolate factory is bombed, Tareq Hadhad and his family immigrate to the small town of Antigonish in Canada. Tareq's father Issam (Hatem Ali) starts making chocolates again that are a hit at the local church. Neighbor Frank (Mark Camacho) rounds up local investors for a new factory. While Issam's "Peace By Chocolate" business continues to grow, his son Tareq is torn between his dream of becoming a doctor and his obligation to the family business.

You Resemble Me

DINA AMER - France, Egypt, USA - 2021 - 91 mins

Journalist-turned-director Dina Amer, convinced that suspected suicide bomber Hasna Aït Boulahcen had to be more than a footnote to the Paris attacks of 2015, explores the emotional history of the Moroccan-French girl in this deeply compelling narrative executive produced by Spike Lee and Spike Jonze. From a child of the Paris streets to a street-smart young woman, Hasna is ever in search of family, a quest for identity and belonging that proves disastrous.—Judy Bloch

In French with English subtitles

Of Related Interest

Arthur Rambo

LAURENT CANTET - France - 2021 - 86 mins - View trailer

Celebrated author Karim D (Rabah Nait Oufella) is enjoying the attention and success that comes with his new book. But when Karim's teenage online identity as Arthur Rambo is revealed, the two worlds collide. Where Karim is now a nuanced author, "Arthur Rambo" was profane and blindly provocative, tweeting out broadsides that included homophobic and antisemitic "jokes" to get a rise out of bourgeois France. He soon learns that the internet is forever.

In French with English subtitles


AMY JEPHTA - South Africa - 2020 - 103 mins - View trailer

Right before the Muslim holiday of Eid, widow Aisha Davids expresses her happiness to her four grown sons about her relationship with a kind doctor who has just proposed. They are not so happy. This very amusing and heartwarming film is set in a middle-class coloured suburb of Cape Town. Barakat, an Arabic word meaning blessings, is a story about celebrating life, culture, and the importance of family. It's the first feature film in the regional/cultural dialect of Afrikaaps and is South Africa's entry to the Academy Awards.

In Afrikaaps with English subtitles


JULIA BACHA - USA - 2021 - 73 mins

Consumer boycotts may be protected speech, but recent laws in thirty-three states force individuals and companies to pledge not to engage in a boycott of Israel to get a paycheck or receive investments. A tomato farmer and publisher in Arkansas, a speech therapist in Austin, and an attorney in Arizona have all cried foul on First Amendment principles. Boycott has been called "a legal thriller with 'accidental plaintiffs' at the center of the story." Presented in the Justice Matters section of Filmfest DC.


Kung Fu Zohra

MABROUK EL MECHRI - France - 2022 - 100 mins - View trailer

Convinced that a divorce would separate her from her little girl, Zohra (Sabrina Ouazani) cannot bring herself to leave her husband Omar (Ramzy Bédia) despite his violent behavior. But all that changes when she meets Chang Sue, a security guard at the gym where she works to make ends meet. Zohra does not know it yet, but Chang Sue is a Master of Kung-Fu...and ready to teach her the basics.

In French with English subtitles


Rabiye Kurnaz vs George W. Bush

ANDREAS DRESEN - Germany, France - 2022 - 119 mins - View trailer

Andreas Dresen's film takes a quixotic approach to a dire true-life story of middle-class Turkish-German housewife Rabiye (played by German comedian Meltem Kaptan) and her battle to get her luckless son Murat released from Guantánamo. Her at first reluctant pro-bono lawyer (Alexander Scheer) eventually takes the case—all the way to the US Supreme Court. The real Murat spent many years at Gitmo, a stark reminder of the post-9/11 era's judicial abuses.—Judy Bloch

In German with English subtitles

Short Film


Dania Bdeir - Lebanon, France - 2021 - 16 mins - View trailer

Mohammad, a lonely construction worker in Beirut, finds solace in a most unusual place — the cabin of the tallest and notoriously most dangerous crane in Lebanon.

In Arabic with English subtitles


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