TIFF 2018 Poster

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is about to begin its 43rd year on September 6th. Though a younger festival than some, TIFF has become one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world and boasts the largest public attendance. As we’ve done with a number of other well-known festivals in the past, we’ve collected a list of all of the Arab films programmed at this years festival. Check all of them out below and let us know which ones you plan to see!

Film still from Look at Me

Look at Me (Qatar, France, Tunisia) – Directed by Nejib Belkadhi

Narrative Feature – Contemporary World Cinema – 96 mins – World Premiere

Torn between the life he thought he could leave behind in Tunisia and the life he’s created for himself in Marseille, a Lotfi finds himself at a crucial crossroads. Look at Me is a touching portrait of a man struggling with the confines of masculinity, with what it means to be “a provider,” and, above all, with how to create a loving home.

Film still from EXT. Night

EXT. Night (Egypt, United Arab Emirates) – Directed by Ahmad Abdalla

Narrative Feature – Contemporary World Cinema – 98 mins – World Premiere

When a day in the life of a beleaguered Egyptian filmmaker, Moe, goes sideways, he witnesses anew issues like class and gender relations, in this touching social satire. In trying to navigate chaotic Cairo traffic, Moe finds himself drawn away from the world — and social milieu — he knows along with his driver Mostafa, and Toutou, a firecracker of a character from the wrong part of town. Over the course of the night, Moe begins to see the deeper ramifications and the inequalities around issues like class and gender relations.

Film still from aKasha

aKasha (Sudan, South Africa, Qatar, Germany) – Directed by hajooj kuka

Narrative Feature – Discovery – 78 mins – North American Premiere

No viable solution to the civil war in rebel-held areas of Sudan has been found since the outbreak of violence in 2011. But every year in the Nuba Mountains region, all sides are forced to put down their arms due to an unlikely power: mud. During the rainy season, rebels return home to their families and loved ones to take advantage of the pause in fighting. It’s right after this welcome lull that hajooj kuka begins his offbeat comedy about a love triangle between a boy, a girl, and an AK-47.

Film still from Screwdriver

Screwdriver (Palestine, USA, Qatar) – Directed by Bassam Jarbawi

Narrative Feature – Discovery – 108 mins – North American Premiere

After more than a decade in an Israeli jail, newly released Ziad doesn’t recognize the world around him. He is a free man but his friends have moved on, technology has changed, and dating seems impossible. Though hailed as a hero for his involvement in a failed attack on a settler — the act that led to his imprisonment — the young Palestinian man has doubts about whether his actions had any real meaning.

Film still from The Day I Lost My Shadow

The Day I Lost My Shadow (Syria, France, Qatar, Lebanon) – Directed by Soudade Kaadan

Narrative Feature – Discovery – 95 mins – North American Premiere

At the outset of the war in Syria, a young mother, Sana, is trying to maintain normalcy in her home for the sake of her son. But between power outages, the water being cut off, and gas shortages — to say nothing of the shelling taking place only blocks away — Sana’s daily duties are becoming increasingly Sisyphean. In order to cook for her son, Sana takes a risk: along with brother-and-sister duo Reem and Jalal, Sana hires a cab to reach a nearby town said to have propane. When this seemingly simple errand goes awry, Sana is dragged deeper into the conflict.

Film still from Freedom Fields

Freedom Fields (Libya, UK, Netherlands, USA, Qatar Lebanon, Canada) – Directed by Naziha Arebi

Documentary Feature – TIFF Docs – 99 mins – World Premiere

Freedom Fields offers an intimate look at post-revolution Libya through the eyes of an aspiring all-female soccer team, whose struggle to gain mainstream acceptance mirrors the broader challenges facing women in contemporary Libyan society.

Film still from When Arabs Danced

When Arabs Danced (Belgium) – Directed by Jawad Rhalib

Documentary Feature – TIFF Docs – 84 mins – North American Premiere

A bold corrective to narrow notions about what it means to be Muslim, director Jawad Rhalib’s When Arabs Danced is also a stirring testament to the power of art to reconfigure identity. Beginning with Rhalib’s memories of childhood shame regarding his mother’s belly dancing, the film quickly expands its purview from personal essay to cultural investigation. Rhalib visits several countries and documents diverse creative endeavors, each constrained by fundamentalist repression within the Muslim world and xenophobic stereotypes outside of it.

Film still from Capernaum

Capernaum (Lebanon) – Directed by Nadine Labaki

Narrative Feature – Special Presentations – 120 mins – North American Premiere

Zain is only 12, but he’s seen enough of this life to resent his very existence. With numerous children to care for, his parents resort to some inventive scams, such as saturating garments with tramadol, which they then pass along to Zain’s incarcerated brother who reconstitutes the drug and sells it to fellow prisoners. More alarmingly, Zain’s parents have sold his 11-year-old sister’s hand in marriage, which prompts Zain to run away. He befriends an Ethiopian cleaning woman, whose baby he eventually becomes guardian to. But life on the streets offers Zain fewer and fewer places to hide. Encouraged by a current affairs program seeking to draw attention to child poverty, Zain files a lawsuit against his parents for giving birth to him. The trial provides the frame through which Zain’s story unfolds.

Film still from Girls of the Sun

Girls of the Sun (France) – Directed by Eva Husson

Narrative Feature – Special Presentations – 115 mins – International Premiere

Girls of the Sun follows an impassioned war correspondent, Mathilde, into the Daesh battleground of northwestern Iraqi Kurdistan, where she is embedded with a unit of female peshmerga fighters. Led by Bahar, the unit is made up of women formerly held captive, many as sex slaves, by Daesh following the massacre of their husbands and the kidnapping of their children. Seamlessly weaving between the harrowing pasts that brought them together and their perilous present, highlighting the shared suffering that strengthens their bond and their will to fight to get their village, and their families, back.

Film still from Divine Wind

Divine Wind (Algeria, France, Qatar, Lebanon) – Directed by Merzak Allouche

Narrative Feature – Masters – 96 mins – World Premiere

The film follows a young man, Amine, and an enigmatic woman, Nour, who are called upon by extremists to perform an armed action in the Algerian Sahara. Although they have no prior connection, the duo become inexorably and intensely linked. As their bond deepens, their mission is put at risk.

Film still from Erased,____ Ascent of the Invisible

Erased,____ Ascent of the Invisible (Lebanon) – Directed by Ghassan Halwani

Documentary Feature – Wavelengths – 76 mins – North American Premiere

Ghassan Halwani’s powerful debut feature is an evocative examination of the thousands of people who were disappeared during Lebanon’s 15-year conflict. Diving into this politically loaded and personally resonant topic, Halwani scrapes away — at times, quite literally — layers of Lebanese history and rethinks the topography of modern-day Beirut. Though the disappeared were erased — their bodies remaining unfound and unrecovered decades later — their presence lingers. As Halwani explores, the dead remain in the memory of loved ones, beneath the sidewalks of gentrified neighbourhoods, in the very fabric of society.

Film still from Walled Unwalled

Walled Unwalled (Germany) – Directed by Lawrence Abu Hamdan

Documentary Short – Wavelengths – 20 mins – North American Premiere

In the haunting Walled Unwalled the artist and self-described “private ear” Lawrence Abu Hamdan recounts three different stories related to walls, alongside their concomitant social, legal, and psychological ramifications.

Film still from Sira

Sira (Canada) – Directed by Rolla Tahir

Documentary Short – Wavelengths – 6 mins – World Premiere

Responding to the travel documentaries of Jacques Madvo, Rolla Tahir’s Sira manipulates and adds to the filmmaker’s original footage to produce a personal reminiscence of her childhood migration from Kuwait to Canada, via Sudan.

Film still from A Wedding Day

A Wedding Day (Algeria, France) – Directed by Elias Belkeddar

Narrative Short – Short Cuts – 15 mins – North American Premiere

In this rich and assured portrait, a crime boss in exile in Algiers oscillates between his business, friends, and the boredom and melancholy of his daily routine.

Film still from Brotherhood

Brotherhood (Tunisia, Canada, Qatar, Sweden) – Directed by Meryam Joobeur

Narrative Short – Short Cuts – 25 mins – World Premiere

Mohamed is deeply shaken and suspicious when his estranged eldest son returns home to rural Tunisia with a mysterious young wife in tow. Every moment in Meryam Joobeur’s wrenching drama is infused with the emotional complexities of a family reunion, and the consequences of past wounds and misunderstanding.