We’re excited to share with you the lineups for this year’s short film programs at the Arab Film Festival! There will be 3 programs, each with a different theme. Check out all the films below.


This program is an emotionally liberating compilation of 5 short narratives embodying a confessional Lebanon by Lebanese directors that move across the registers of drama and comedy, to mockumentary and experimental filmmaking. These films use the ridiculous to address the divisive, the unfamiliar to reshape the familiar, and a looseness of spirit to engage critical topics per Lebanese history, culture, and social politics. From a talking Lebanese robot to a quirky soap maker preparing for a special visit by the president, there exists a detachment in these offbeat scenarios that root us deeper into the truths of Lebanon on both macro and micro levels.

Showing: October 15th, 6:30 PM at The Roxie Theater

The Night Between Ali and I – Nadia & Laila Hotait / Lebanon, Spain / 2016 / 9 mins

This film is a fictional reenactment of a key event in Lebanese and Levantine contemporary history – the hijacking of 39 hostages at the Bank of America in Beirut.

Before We Heal – Nadim Hobeika / Lebanon / 2018 / 15 mins

Saleem and Raya, two ex lovers, meet at Raya’s place. Saleem enters the toilet and somehow gets stuck. A conversation ensues.

Last Days of the Man of Tomorrow – Fadi Baki / Lebanon, Germany / 2017 / 30 mins

A young filmmaker investigates the legend of “Manivelle,” an automaton gifted to Lebanon in 1945 that still haunts an abandoned mansion in Beirut. After being coaxed back into the limelight, the people who knew him come forward to speak out as the myth surrounding Manivelle starts to unravel.

Perhaps Today… – Nadine Asmar / Lebanon / 2017 / 9 mins

A mother still waits for her son to come home and eat his favorite dinner even though he disappeared years ago, as he was one of the 17,000 disappeared persons who went missing during the Lebanese civil war.

The President’s Visit – Cyril Aris / Lebanon, Qatar, USA / 2017 / 19 mins

The worst-kept secret in a small Lebanese fishing village reveals that the President is on his way to visit the local soap shop.


This program showcases 5 short films by and about Arab women. The showcase includes documentary, narrative, and animation spotlighting compelling, socially-relevant short format work from Tunisia, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Palestine, and Morocco, moving through a coming of age discussion between Lebanese millennials on a ferris wheel and a young girl testing the boundaries of a Salafist community, to a documentary about an edgy Palestinian poetess and an analysis of patriarchal abuse in a Moroccan family. Whatever the case, and by virtue of this selection: Arab women maintain their station as a force to be reckoned with on the international short film scene.

Showing: October 16th, 6:30 PM at The Roxie Theater

Aya – Moufida Fedhila / Tunisia / 2017 / 24 mins

In Tunis lives Aya, a 7-year-old girl, with her Salafist parents. Her father Youssef, out of fear of being banished from the Salafi community of which he is a member, forces his wife to wear a niqab. One day, however, an unexpected turn of events arises that threatens the fragile social fabric of their community, which prompts Aya to take matters into her own hands, for the better or the worse.

3 Centimetres – Lara Zeidan / Lebanon, UK / 2018 / 9 mins

In the oldest fun park of Beirut, four young female friends go on a ferris wheel ride. During the claustrophobic open-air journey, they touch on intimate subjects which eventually lead to an unexpected “coming out” confession.

Unspoken – Samia Badih / UAE, Palestine, Lebanon / 2018 / 10 mins

This film follows Palestinian spoken word poet Farah Chamma who lives in Abu Dhabi and who, at the age of 17, became an online sensation after her poems went viral. A well-known poet today, Farah finds her poetry at odds with the world she lives in as she struggles with self-censorship and keeping her poetry authentic in a rapidly changing world.

Memory of the Land – Samira Badran / Palestine, Spain / 2017 / 13 mins

A figure moves through a checkpoint in Palestine. She has to overcome a series of obstacles that will drastically affect her mobility while the consciousness of the past and longing for the future coexist simultaneously in her day-to-day life. This animated film is a reflection on the human condition under the yoke of violence.

Family in Exile – Fatima Matousse / Morocco / 2018 / 15 mins

This film is an intimate documentary about the conflicts within the filmmaker’s family. It is a daughter’s quest to understand her dictatorial father’s refusal, over many years, to interact with her and her mother across a series of revealing conversations with family members via stories touching on gender tensions, religious beliefs, and parent/child relationships.


This program features a diverse assembly of shorts that relay cutting-edge work from and about the Arab World. Apartheid, war, Saudi feminism, racial profiling, and analyses of the refugee experience are a few of the themes engaged in the program, across a sweeping roller coaster ride that yields waves of black humor inasmuch as heart-wrenching drama. For our 22nd edition, the Arab Highlights short film showcase returns not only to underscore some of the most pending topics of the day per the Arab World and beyond, but to offer a selection that has something for everyone.


October 8th, 6:30 PM at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, UC Berkeley

October 17th, 8:30 PM at The Roxie Theater

Bonboné – Rakan Mayasi / Palestine, Lebanon / 2017 / 15 mins

A Palestinian man languishing in an Israeli jail yearns for some quality time with his wife, in order to conceive. This presents a logistical conundrum, of which his savvy wife proves herself an ingenious equal.

Dimmed Light – Waleed Al Shehhi / UAE, Syria / 2017 / 7 mins

This animated film stars an extinguished wick and a broken lantern, sitting in a devastated space. Will the wick be able to repair the lantern and bring it to what it once was, a source for light in the darkness?

First Feature – Bentley Brown / Saudi Arabia / 2018 / 14 mins

This film relays the challenges faced by a team of women working on the set of their first feature film in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The narration, contributed anonymously by members of the crew, asks questions of confidence, belonging, and future in a country where societal restraints are a constant threat to the budding film industry.

A Drowning Man – Mahdi Fleifel / Denmark, UK, Greece / 2017 / 15 mins

Alone and far from home, a young Palestinian migrant makes his way through Athens, struggling to make ends meet. Surrounded by predators, he is forced to make compromises to survive as his life of exile grows one day longer.

Terrorist Number Four – Bentley Brown / USA, Qatar / 2018 / 6 mins

In a film industry where actors of Arab or Muslim origin are routinely cast as terrorists, one man stands a chance to wrong the rights… or, um… right the wrongs.

Rupture – Yassmina Karajah / Jordan, Canada / 2017 / 18 mins

This film follows the journey of four Arab refugee teens on their quest to find the local public pool in their new Canadian city.

Roujoula – Ilias El Faris / Morocco, France / 2018 / 22 mins

The Eid festival is coming up in Casablanca. Imad, who sells pirated DVDs, hasn’t collected enough money to buy food for the evening celebration, which opens the door for a good excuse to exploit his younger brother’s “skills”.

Check out the full #AFF2018 schedule and buy tickets here!