Lovers of the short form, rejoice! We are excited to share that at this year’s Arab Film Festival will be hosting five short films programs. Check out the full lineup below!

Film still from Home

Documentary Shorts

This program features a diverse assembly of documentary films that include a diverse series of spotlights, from traditional Moroccan Sufi-inspired rock music and Amman’s underground heavy metal scene, to a portrait of Palestinian youth living under occupation. Of note in this program are 4 films from #SupportYemen’s documentary filmmaking workshop Comra (or “photographic dark room”) that supports Yemeni filmmakers in tandem with the British Council.

Bachelors of War – Mohaamwd Al Aghbri, Sami Shamsan, Ahmed Al Hagry / UK, Yemen / 2015 / 6 mins

Young and jobless, a group of guys fend for themselves during Ramadan amidst an unstable socio-political climate. The film illustrates the underlying frustrations and worries of many young Yemeni men in the face of stunted progress, divided families, empty homes, and broken dreams.

By the Medina, For the Medina – Haya Alghanim / Morocco, USA / 2017 / 11 mins

This film follows the Moroccan Sufi-rock fusion band Harmonic Fusion, based in the old town of Tetouan.

For a Loaf of Bread – Amal Al Yarisi, Yasser Sharf, Mohamed Al Shahethi / UK, Yemen / 2015 / 4 mins

A film depicting the struggles and dreams of a Yemeni child in a time of war.

Hide your Metal -Yasmine Mustafa, Anas Battah / Jordan / 2017 / 12 mins

This film follows Amman’s heavy metal scene.

Home – Berber Verpoest / Belgium, Israel, Palestine / 2017 / 24 mins

Three intimate portraits of young Palestinians living under occupation.

Not Acting Anymore – Osama Khaled, Ahmed Al Qadasi, Dia Al Adimi / UK, Yemen / 2015 / 8 mins

Two brothers dream of one day becoming famous filmmakers.

Taxi – Mohammed Al Ashwal, Sara Sari, Majd Fuad / UK, Yemen / 2015 / 6 mins

Portrait of a student-turned-taxi driver driving a taxi in a war zone.

Film still from Hide Your Metal

Dramatic Vision

A compilation of moody short narratives that demonstrate superbly crafted visual storytelling while engaging important socio-political realities of various parts of the Arab World and beyond. From a father who seeks to protect his only daughter from ISIS to an experimental rendering of Gaza’s 2014 Shujaiya massacre: these films are captivating inasmuch as they touch upon pressing issues.

Abraham – Ali Kareem Obaid / Iraq, Italy / 2016 / 8 mins

Set against the backdrop of ISIS’ imposition of the “jizya” or tax on non-Muslims in its territories, a Christian family concocts a plan to protect its only daughter.

Fireflies – Raouf Zaki / Syria, USA / 2017 / 16 mins

A withdrawn Arab man begins frequenting a Boston café. Eventually, the headwaiter grows increasingly suspicious about the true nature of his visits.

Mare Nostrum – Rana Kazkaz, Anas Khalaf / France, Jordan, Syria / 2016 / 13 mins

On a Mediterranean shore, a Syrian father makes a decision that puts his daughter’s life at risk.

One Minute – Dina Naser / Belgium, Jordan, Palestine / 2015 / 11 mins

An experimental film that reenacts one family’s experience during Gaza’s 2014 Shujaiya massacre where dozens died after being given a moment’s notice to evacuate before their neighborhood was bombed by the Israeli government.

Status Quo – Marie-Rose Osta / Lebanon / 2016 / 20 mins

While the Lebanese borders are under constant terrorist attacks, a Beirut couple battles midnight anxiety.

Submarine – Mounia Akl / Lebanon / 2016 / 20 mins

In a not-so-distant future, Lebanon’s garbage crisis has reached an apex, with forecasts of acid rain looming in the distance. Set against this backdrop, Hala refuses to evacuate her home, as she clings to whatever remains. Premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

Film still from Mare Nostrum

On the Edge of Narrative

Three daring films from the Arab World that span across the Maghreb, the Levant, and the Gulf that push the boundaries of narrative storytelling towards more experimental considerations of visuality, performance, and genre. Moving through the registers of magical realism, absurdist psychodrama, and feminist monster movie horror, this selection will test the viewer’s powers of perception while leaving room for shocking, even if strange surprises.

After – Wissam Charaf/ France, Lebanon / 2016 / 30 mins

Hani has just been released from prison and returns to his hometown Dhour El Choueir, which was at the frontlines during the Lebanese Civil War. Once there, he finds the family home abandoned and partially destroyed. His parents fled, but he decides to stick around, visiting residents who remained and hanging out in trees eating fruit. Eventually, he stumbles on a young woman who is about to commit suicide…

Kindil – Damien Ounouri/ Algeria, Kuwait, USA / 2016 / 40 mins

During a beach outing with her family, a young mother is drowned by a group of men while swimming offshore. Anxiety and fear take hold of her family as well as the townspeople, especially as, soon after, other swimmers mysteriously start to die. Screened at Cannes’ Directors Fortnight, 2016.

Shrimp – Yaser Al Neyadi / UAE / 2016 / 26 mins

Secrets… desires… obsessions. We all have them. But sometimes things get a little. Weird.

Film still from After

Playful Ponderings

From dating drama in Bahrain and an abandoned Qatari cinemaplex, to wacky Lebanese nuns and landmine explosions, this eclectic mix of 6 whimsical, albeit socially-concerned short format narrative works will take viewers on a journey of humor, self-discovery, and provocation.

Ahmad – Ameer Ihsan / Iraq / 2017 / 11 mins

The world outside is dangerous inasmuch as it is liberating.

The Candle – Nasser Samara / USA / 2017 / 9 mins

A group of people comically argue the dynamics of privilege and guilt at a friend’s birthday dinner.

Five Boys and a Wheel – Said Zagha / Jordan / 2016 / 19 mins

School teacher Sameh tries to settle a petty dispute between his son and a group of boys alongside their less-than-yielding parents.

I Have Been Watching You All Along – Rawda Al-Thani / Qatar / 2017 / 10 mins

A young Qatari woman explores an abandoned cinema as onlookers watch in the shadows. But really: who is watching whom?

Rattled – Jaafar Almadhoon/ Bahrain, UAE / 2016 / 10 mins

Mohammed’s traditional search for a bride has resulted in over twelve rejections. As his opportunities seem to be disappearing, he finds hope in wearing his late father’s lucky ring to his next blind date.

Under the Robes – Michel Zarazir/ Lebanon / 2015 / 20 mins

An isolated convent, where a group of nuns once lived happily, is visited by the Monsignor. He comes to announce that their land will be sold. During the visit, he accidentally steps on a mine that dates back to war times. Everything goes awry, panic sets in, and the faith is questioned as the madness of each of the characters comes to light…

Film still from Under the Robes

Refugee Stories: Migration, Displacement, Hope

Far from a one-size-fits-all marking of “experience” so often depicted on Western media outlets when it comes to the plight of the refugee, this program of 5 powerful short documentaries spotlights the multitude of hues that should be considered when discussions of the refugee experience are had. From the Yarmouk and Ain El-Hilweh camps, to the streets of Berlin: Refugee Stories shows what it takes to hold onto one’s dreams amidst devastating circumstances.

After the Spring – Mathilde Babo / France, Germany, Syria / 2017 / 4 mins

On the streets of Berlin, Ahmad recounts the early days of the Syrian revolution.

Here You Are – Tyma Hezam / Syria, USA / 2017 / 5 mins

Experimental film that engages the post-traumatic stress experienced by refugees after their arrival to their destination.

A Man Returned – Mahdi Fleifel / Lebanon, Palestine / 2016 / 30 mins

Reda is 26 years old. His dreams of escaping the Palestinian refugee camp Ain El-Hilweh in Lebanon ended in failure after three years trapped in Greece. He returned with a drug addiction to life in a camp torn apart by internal strife and the encroachment of war from Syria. Against all odds he decides to marry his childhood sweetheart; a love story, bittersweet. Winner of the Silver Bear Jury Prize (short film) at the 2016 Berlinale.

The Pianist of Yarmouk  – Vikram Ahluwalia / Germany, Palestine, Syria / 2017 / 14 mins

Meet Aeham: a classically-trained musician attempting to escape the war in Syria for safety in Europe.

Through My Eyes: Hani’s Journey – Zahra Mackoui / Canada, Lebanon, Syria / 2017 / 30 mins

Follows the journey of blind Syrian refugee Hani Al Moliya from the camps in Lebanon to Canada. Told through his photos, it is a story of triumph against adversity, set against the backdrop of the Syrian war.

Film still from Here You Are

Make sure not to miss these great short programs at #AFF2017 in both the Bay Area and Los Angeles! Full schedule is below and you can get your tickets here.

Documentary Shorts:

October 22nd – 1pm at Shattuck Cinemas

Dramatic Vision:

October 18th – 9:00pm at New Parkway Theatre

October 29th – 2:00pm at Harmony Gold

On the Edge of Narrative:

October 17th – 9:00pm at the Roxie Theatre

October 20th – 6:00pm at the New Parkway Theatre

Playful Ponderings:

October 19th – 7:00pm at the Empress Theatre

October 22nd – 2:30pm at Shattuck Cinemas

October 28th – 4:00pm at Harmony Gold

Refugee Stories: 

October 18th – 6:30pm at New Parkway Theatre

October 26th – 7:00pm at Pasadena City College