Wrapping up the late summer international film festivals is the Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) which will be held in Toronto, Canada from September 5-15th. This year the festival has programmed yet another large and strong selection of Arab films at TIFF. The selection of Arab Films at TIFF 2019 includes 13 feature films and 2 shorts, representing stories from 10 Arab countries and the diaspora. In this selection you will find work from well known filmmakers and actors such as Feras Fayyad, Elie Suleiman and Nadine Labaki as well as exciting new films from up-and-coming filmmakers such as Amjad Abu Alala and Manele Labidi. Dive into the selection of Arab Films at TIFF below and let us know what you are excited to see!

Arab Films at TIFF

Al Ghouta, Syria – Dr. Amani in the underground tunnels. (Photo credit: National Geographic)

The Cave by Feras Fayyad
Syria/Denmark/Germany/USA/Qatar – 95 mins – Feature Documentary
Opening Night Film, TIFF Docs (World Premiere)

Director Feras Fayyad (Last Men in Aleppo) returns to his native, war-torn Syria to follow a dedicated team of female doctors tirelessly treating casualties in an underground hospital, while battling systemic sexism.

Arab Films at TIFF

Film still from It Must Be Heaven

It Must Be Heaven by Elia Suleiman
France/Qatar/Germany/Canada/Palestine/Turkey – 97 min – Narrative Feature
Masters (International Premiere)

In a series of darkly comic vignettes shot in international locales, Palestinian director Elia Suleiman investigates the meanings of being in exile, and the absurdities of nationalism, normality, and identity.

Film still from 1982

1982 by Oualid Mouasness
USA/Lebanon/Norway/Qatar – 100 min – Narrative Feature
Discovery (World Premiere)

During the 1982 invasion of Lebanon at a posh Christian school on the outskirts of Beirut, 11-year-old Wissam tries to tell a classmate about his crush on her, while his teachers — on different sides of the political divide — try to mask their fears, in this poignant debut feature from Oualid Mouaness. 

Arab Films at TIFF

Film still from Certified Mail

Certified Mail (Bi Elm El Wossul) by Hisham Saqr
Egypt – 98 min – Narrative Feature
Discovery (World Premiere)

A new mother struggles with parenthood, adjusting to life with an imprisoned husband, and her own mental health, in Hisham Saqr’s delicate debut feature.

Film still from Noura’s Dream

Noura’s Dream by Hind Boujemaa
Tunisia/Belgium/France – 92 mins – Narrative Feature
Discovery (World Premiere)

With her abusive husband in jail and a coveted divorce pending, hardworking Noura can almost grasp a happy, new life with lover Lassaad — but when the best-laid plans are upended, Noura must tap her unshakable will to fulfill her dream.

Film still from My English Cousin

My English Cousin by Karim Sayad
Switzerland/Qatar – 82 mins – Documentary Feature
TIFF Docs (World Premiere)

This keenly observed documentary by Karim Sayad follows the director’s cousin, Fahed, who left Algeria for England in 2001 and, now, contemplates returning to his place of birth.

Arab Films at TIFF

Film still from Ibrahim: A Fate to Define

Ibrahim: A Fate to Define by Lina Al Abed
Lebanon/Palestine/Denmark/Qatar/Slovenia – 75 mins – Documentary Feature
TIFF Docs (North American Premiere)

In this provocative and personal documentary, director Lina Al Abed searches for traces of her disappeared father: a seemingly ordinary Palestinian family man who was actually a secret member of a militant splinter faction and vanished when she was just a child.

Film still from Paris Stalingrad

Paris Stalingrad by Hind Meddeb
France – 86 mins – Feature Documentary
TIFF Docs (International Premiere)

French-Tunisian documentarian Hind Meddeb takes her camera through the streets of the French capital’s Stalingrad district and meets many of the refugees struggling to make a home for themselves there, in this eye-opening exploration of the perils and perseverance that shape the migrant experience.

Arab Films at TIFF

Film still from You Will Die at Twenty

You Will Die at Twenty by Amjad Abu Alala
Sudan/France/Egypt/Germany/Norway/Qatar – 103 min – Narrative Feature
Contemporary World Cinema (North American Premiere)

The daring feature debut from Sudanese director Amjad Abu Alala follows a child — portended to die at age 20 — as he and his mother navigate the unchartered space between coming of age and facing the end.

Film still from Terminal Sud

Terminal Sud by Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche
France – 96 min – Narrative Feature
Contemporary World Cinema (North American Premiere)

The Algerian Civil War frames the sixth feature by Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche (Story of Judas), in which a doctor (Ramzy Bedia) is kidnapped to care for a rebel leader and becomes a target for the army, sinking him deeper into the abyss of the conflict.

Film still from Arab Blues

Arab Blues by Manele Labidi
France – 88 min – Narrative Feature
Contemporary World Cinema (North American Premiere)

After years abroad, a woman (Golshifteh Farahani) returns to Tunis with the dream of opening up her own psychotherapy practice, in Manele Labidi’s charming feature debut.

Film still from Adam

Adam by Maryam Touzani
Morocco/France/Belgium – 98 min – Narrative Feature
Contemporary World Cinema (North American Premiere)

The lives of two vulnerable women in Casablanca — one pregnant, homeless, and shunned (Nessrine Erradi), the other widowed and bereft (Loubna Azabal, Incendies) — converge and transform in this heartwarming directorial debut from celebrated actor Maryam Touzani (Razzia).

Film still from 143 Sahara Street

143 Sahara Street by Hassen Ferhani
Algeria – 100 min – Documentary Feature
Wavelengths (North American Premiere)

Hassen Ferhani’s quiet documentary about an off-the-grid café in the Sahara Desert is an intimate portrait of its proprietor and her guests — as well as the landscape, and Algeria.

Sun Rave by Roy Samaha
Lebanon – 11 min – Short
Wavelengths (North American Premiere)

Speculating on the impact of a 1989 solar storm, Roy Samaha’s film mimics the unpredictable release of energy flares, layering personal histories with major geopolitical events as it shifts from his family’s Beirut home to Bucharest, Berlin, and further afield.

Film still from Who is Afraid of Ideology? Part 2

Who’s Afraid of Ideology? Part 2 by Marwa Arsanios
Lebanon/Kurdistan/Syria – 30 min – Short
Wavelengths (North American Premiere)

A generous and lyrical continuation of Lebanese artist Marwa Arsanios’ interest in the ties between ecology, feminism, and collective organization, this documentary showcases the radical politics of a Lebanese farming cooperative and the citizens of Jinwar, a women-only village in the north of Syria.

Film still from The Trap

The Trap (Fakh) by Nada Riyadh
Egypt/Germany – 21 min – Short
Short Cuts Programme 5 (North American Premiere)

An unmarried couple’s would-be romantic getaway at a seaside resort becomes an exercise in rising tension when the young woman expresses doubts about their future, in Nada Riyadh’s gripping exploration of power dynamics in relationships.

Film still from Barakat

Barakat by Manon Nammour
Lebanon – 14 min – Short
Short Cuts Programme 08 (World Premiere)

For the elderly man preparing for his grandson’s wedding in Manon Nammour’s affecting and elegant drama, the accelerating rate of change in Beirut threatens to create a city he no longer knows by heart.

Love film festivals? After reading all about this year’s Arab Films at TIFF, take a trip around the world through our blog: from Cannes to Locarno, we got you covered.

And of course don’t miss the best of Arab Cinema when it lands in the San Francisco Bay Area for our very own Arab Film Festival! Opening night is October 11th, and you can already buy a festival pass – check out your options here and sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know when films are announced.