Two of the year’s biggest film festivals, the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and the 78th Venice Film Festival (or La Biennale), recently revealed their full lineups. And if you’re here, you know we’re about to fill you in on the Arab films that have been selected! Discover all the Arab films at Venice and TIFF 2021. 

Arab Films at Venice

The Venice Film Festival will be in person starting September 1-11. Two short films are in competition! And while no features will be competing, there are still a few films playing in other categories.

Promotional still from Amira

Amira by Mohamed Diab
Egypt – Narrative Feature – HORIZONS

Takes place in Palestine, about a teenage girl and her family. Marks the first Palestinian film by an Egyptian director. Mohamed Diab also directed the film Clash which opened the Arab Film Festival in 2016!


Film still from Costa Brava

Costa Brava by Mounia Akl
Lebanon – Narrative Feature – HORIZONS EXTRA

The free-spirited Badri family have escaped the toxic pollution of Beirut by seeking refuge in the mountain home they have built. But unexpectedly, a garbage landfill is built right outside their fence, bringing the trash and corruption of a whole country to their doorstep. (If you miss the premiere at Venice, don’t worry–the film will also be showing at TIFF!)


Film still from Republic of Silence

Republic of Silence by Diana El Jeiroudi
Germany/Syria – Documentary Feature – Out of Competition Non-Fiction

She grew up in the lands of dictators and surveillance, where images are censored, photos are burned, thoughts are discreet, and mouths are kept shut. Forty years later, from her exile in Germany, Diana El Jeiroudi is a documentary filmmaker reclaiming the images and sounds of the Syrian land and its people, half of whom are scattered around the world.


Promotional image for Don’t Get Too Comfortable

Don’t Get Too Comfortable by Shaima El Tamimi
Yemen – Documentary Short – IN COMPETITION

The first Yemeni film to ever play at Venice! More than fifty years after his death, Shaima Al-Tamimi shares a heartfelt multimedia letter addressed to her paternal grandfather reflecting on her family’s journey of migration and resettlement while examining the inter-generational burden of relocation impacting Yemeni migrants and their descendants for decades to come.⁣


Film still from 4 AM

Descente (4 AM) by Mehdi Fikri
France – Narrative Short – IN COMPETITION

France, November 2015. After the Paris terror attacks, the state of emergency was proclaimed to facilitate the work of police forces. 4 AM. A policewoman helps colleagues to conduct a search, but soon finds out that things aren’t going the way they’re supposed to.


Arab Films at TIFF

TIFF will be taking place from September 9-18, also in person. The following films were a part of their Contemporary World Cinema/Discovery lineups.

Film still from Farha

Farha by Darin J. Sallam
Jordan – Narrative Feature – 92 Minutes

A 14-year-old girl in 1948 Palestine watches from a locked cellar as catastrophe consumes her home, in this bold debut from Darin J. Sallam.


Film still from The Humans

The Humans by Stephen Karam
USA – Narrative Feature – 108 min

Lebanese-American playwright Stephen Karam adapts his Tony-award winning play for the silver screen, with Richard Jenkins, Beanie Feldstein and Steven Yeun starring in the multi-generational family drama.


Film still from Huda’s Salon

Huda’s Salon by Hany Abu-Assad
Palestine – Narrative Feature – 91 min

Hany Abu-Assad’s political and emotional thriller explores a dangerous clash between two women struggling to cope with life under occupation.


Film still from The Gravedigger’s Wife

The Gravedigger’s Wife by Khadar Ayderus Ahmed
France/Somalia – Narrative Feature – 83 mins

Khadar Ayderus Ahmed’s poetic romance centres on a family facing impossible loss, and the lengths one man will go for his beloved.


Film still from The Devil’s Driver

The Devil’s Drivers by Mohammed Abugeth & Daniel Carsenty
Palestine – Documentary Feature – 90 mins

The Devil’s Drivers has the intensity of a 1970s chase film as it follows Palestinian smugglers on high-speed trips to help workers cross the border.


Beity by Isabelle Mecattaf
Lebanon – Narrative Short – 15 mins

In this astutely played and beautifully shot drama by Isabelle Mecattaf, a look at an anxious day in a wealthy Beirut household becomes a moving rumination on the pain felt by parents of grown children seeking better lives far from home.


Film still from Trumpets in the Sky

Trumpets in the Sky by Rakan Mayasi
Palestine/Lebanon – Documentary Short – 15 mins

What begins as a typically demanding day for a Syrian girl working in Lebanon’s potato fields becomes one that alters her life’s direction, in this richly detailed and continually surprising drama by director Rakan Mayasi.


The North American premiere of Lingui-the French-Chadian film that premiered at Cannes–will also be playing in Toronto. Which one of these Arab films at Venice and TIFF are you most excited to see?