The San Diego Arab Film Festival is a project of KARAMA

2020 San Diego Arab Film Festival Postponed Until June 19

Due to concerns about the coronavirus the San Diego Arab Film Festival is being postponed to June 19, 20, 26, 27 & 28 at the Museum of Photographic Arts.  Although the film line up will be the same, the actual schedule will be modified for the new dates.  The new schedule will be announced shortly.

For those who have purchased tickets already, your purchases will be refunded as soon as we can process them.

Thank you for your support and your patience!

The San Diego Arab Film Festival Team

The San Diego Arab Film Festival announced its line up and schedule for 2020. It will open on March 27 with the Tunisian film Arab Blues, a comedy about a Tunisian woman who, after living in Paris for 10 years, returns to Tunis to set up a psychotherapy practice.  This rich premise provides many opportunities to look at issues of coming home, breaking taboos, building community and navigating bureaucracy, all under the watchful eye of a local  cop.Arab Blues is one of 9 feature films and 7 shorts that will be featured during the Festival, which will take place entirely at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.

Other highlights include the first ever full-length animated film from Egypt (The Knight and the Princess) and 2020 Oscar submission from Morocco (Adam) and Lebanon (1982).  This year’s festival also features several films from the Arab diaspora, including Spain, Germany, France, Canada and the US.

The festival will offer Festival passes for all 10 screenings, 3-screening ticket packages, and tickets for individual screenings. Individual tickets are $12 General and $7 Student for evening screenings and $10 General and $5 Student for Saturday matinees. Three ticket packages are $33. Festival Passes are $100.

For screenings on Fridays and Saturdays, Palestinian dinners are available for $15/plate. Dinner prices include coffee, tea, water, dessert and sales tax. For Sunday screenings, Falafel sandwiches, dessert and coffee, tea and water for $10.

Tickets are on sale now.

Line Up

Arab Blues (Tunisia, France)

The Knight and the Princess (Egypt)
1982 (Lebanon)
Le Sang des Loups (Algeria)

Mirrors of Diaspora (Iraq, UK, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden)
When we Are Born (Egypt)

Ambient (Palestine) and The Journey of the Others (Palestine, Chile, Jordan, US)

Shorts Program (Tunisia, Syria, Germany, Spain, Canada, UAE, US)
Soumaya (France)
Adam (Morocco)

Arab Blues

After years abroad in Paris, Selma (Golshifteh Farahani) returns to Tunis with the dream of opening up her own psychotherapy practice. After 10 years of living in Paris, Selma has returned to Tunis. Back home, her younger cousin can’t figure out why she’d leave the French capital, her aunt is overbearing, and her uncle is only giving her a matter of weeks to crash in the apartment above their house. Selma, nonetheless, is steadfast in her resolve to open up her psychotherapy practice. So begins the first feature directed and written by Manele Labidi Labbe,  an incisive comedy about coming home, breaking taboos, and building community. As Selma tries to settle in, she’s faced with increasing complications that she couldn’t have predicted. There isn’t just the matter of finding interested psychotherapy patients in a locale that’s not keen on the talking cure, but she also needs to navigate a confusing bureaucratic circus in order to get the right papers to run her practice. On top of all that, a strapping cop, Naim (Maid Mastoura), is keeping a close eye on her every move.

For more information and to see a trailer, click here.

The Knight and the Princess

This journey, based on a true story, follows the heroic young man of fifteen – Mohammed Al Kassim. In the seventh century A.D pirates pillage ships in search of riches and sin, but our protagonist Al Kassim seeks to end the pirates reign with his youthful energy, his excellence with the sword , but most importantly his idealistic naivety. During one of his battles, he happened to save a young lady from the land of Sind – Princess Lubnah. It is the love story of “The Knight and The Princess.”

Al Kassim faces many trials and tribulations in his search for justice. He angers the tyrant King Daher of the land of Sind. Daher is responsible for the pirates and the many injustices that Al Kassim wishes to eradicate. Additionally, he wishes to destroy Al Kassim as his sorcerer tells him of a prophecy regarding a young man named Mohammed that will invade the land of Sind and defeat Daher. On the behest of his King Daher, the sorcerer attempts to control two funny yet mischievous jinn characters in order to keep Al Kassim off the path of the land of Sind. The back and forth power struggle escalates into an epic encore of a war with battle-tested elephants, hundreds of horses, and the fight against good and evil.

The story is dramatized with an original score and 5 original songs.  The voices of the characters are brought to life by well-known Egyptian actors.

For more information and to see a trailer, click here.


During the 1982 invasion of Lebanon at a private 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.

For more information and to see a trailer, click here.

Le Sang des Loups

Set in contemporary Algeria, Le Sang des Loups follows Khaled, a police inspector, as he infiltrates a gang that trafficks in antiquities and drugs.

Khalid follows a complex trail of theft, murder and betrayal.

For more information and to see a trailer, click here.

Director Amar Sifodil has accepted our invitation to attend the festival and present his film.  If he is granted a visa, he will be here!

Mirrors of Diaspora

Mirrors of Diaspora is a multi-character story of seven Iraqi artists with more than forty years of exile, creativity, alienation, memories, nostalgia, survivals, and war between them.

On the 15th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Mirrors of Diaspora explores themes of exile, creativity, identity and war told through the lives of seven Iraqi artists living outside the country of their birth for close to half a century. The artists featured in this documentary belong to a group known as ‘Iraqi Artists in Exile’.

Filmed over three decades, this ambitious project explores their challenges, failures and successes, both as artists and in their private lives: from the time they graduated from art school in the 1970s, working as street artists in the piazzas of Rome and Florence, to becoming well-known. The central question the film poses is: what are the consequences of spending most of one’s life in exile?

At a time of unprecedented global migration when barely a day passes without a tragic story played out in the international media, Mirrors of Diaspora contributes to greater understanding of one of the defining issues of our time.

We believe that this film would be rated G in the US.

Falafel sandwiches and desserts will be served beginning at 5:15 PM and can purchased separately.

For more information and to see a trailer, click here.

When We Are Born

A musical drama about the things we do for the people we love. Amin works as a male prostitute to fulfill his wife’s dream of an apartment. Farah, a devout Christian, struggles with her love for a Muslim man. Ahmed, a talented musician, must choose between his love for music and his father’s wishes.

Our life paths are influenced by the circumstances we are born into. The film presents three separate stories of three different characters who face personal challenges because of restrictions that they did not choose. Despite their different social classes, the three characters seem to have similar paths. The stories are intertwined through songs that describe internal struggle of the characters.

We believe that this film would be rated PG-13 (mature themes) in the US.

For more information and to see a trailer, click here.

The Journey of the Others and Ambience

The second weekend of the San Diego Arab Film Festival opens with two films. First is Ambience, a short film from Palestine that tells the story of two young Palestinians who try to record a demo for a Music Competition inside a noisy crowded refugee camp.  Unable to complete the recording because of the chaos of the place, they discover an authentic way allow them to meet the deadline creatively.

The second film is The Journey of the Others, set in the Jenin refugee camp at the beginning of the second Palestinian Intifada. At the Freedom Theater a group of brave theater actors have developed a play that puts their idea of theater and art at the heart of peaceful cultural resistance.

For more information and to see a trailer, click here.

Director Jaime Villarreal has accepted our invitation to attend and is reviewing his schedule to very whether he can come to present his film!


Shorts Program

La Dame E Le Roi, 24:00, directed by Anis Absi
Leila, an 11-year-old girl who lives in France, she returned with her family to spend the summer holidays as every year.  Ahmed is Leila’s only friend in Tunisia so she decided to provide him with a visa and take him with her to France.

Zahra’s Letter, 15:00, directed by Paula Palacios
Zahra is a Palestinian woman from Syria who like thousands of refugees, has just arrived in Germany. But she has left behind her younger son. Osama lost 35 kg during the war and one day he disappeared from the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, the most emblematic place of the Syrian war, where he lived with his family. Zahra decides to write a letter to her son from Germany: to tell him how she has arrived in Europe with his disabled sister, how the family is, how is their day to day life in the new city…Her letter without address is a desperate love letter.

Karim’s Role, 7:00, directed by Yassin Oukhiar
Karim, an actor fed up with just playing terrorist roles, shares his sorrows with two of his friends – Dani and Bea – while having a drink. Subsequent events will make that conversation especially relevant and put each of them to the test.

Sacred Hair, 13:44, directed by Mario Morin
A fortuitous life changing encounter between a young ill boy and a Muslim woman in a Montreal park.

Moderately Satisfied, 12:47, directed by Hind Anabtawi
When visiting her terminally ill mother for the first time in months, an estranged daughter find new answers about her relationship with her bitter mother, while filling out a patient satisfaction survey. For the first time, the two finally meet halfway.

Homecoming, 5:43, directed by Malak Wazne
Mariam Jalloul is the first student accepted to Harvard from Fordson High School; located in Dearborn, Michigan- the city with the most concentrated amount Arabs and Muslims outside of    the Middle East. Mariam’s acceptance is historical to the community. This is the story of how Mariam leaves home, navigates her identity, and finds her way back; all while tearing down    barriers.

We believe that these films would likely be rated G or PG in the US.

For more information, click here.


Soumaya is an executive in a transport company. After fourteen years of employment, she learned overnight that she had been dismissed and discovered the reasons for her dismissal on television that same evening. She then decides to exercise a very particular right of reply.

For more information and to see a trailer, click here.


Abla runs a modest local bakery from her home in Casablanca where she lives alone with her 8-year-old daughter Warda. Their routine of housework and homework is interrupted one day by a knock on the door. It is Samia, a young woman looking for a job and a roof over her head. The little girl is immediately taken with the newcomer, but her mother initially refuses to allow a pregnant stranger into their home. Gradually, however, Abla’s resolve softens and Samia’s arrival begins to offer all of them the prospect of a new life.

For more information and to see a trailer, click here.

San Diego Arab Film Festival Supported By San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture for the Fifth Year

2019-2020 is the fifth year that the San Diego Arab Film Festival is receiving support from the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.  This recognition and support represents an important milestone for the Festival and for San Diego’s Arab Community: it shows that Arab culture is an important part of the fabric of San Diego!  In addition, on-going support from the Arts and Culture Commission helps lay the groundwork for the Festival’s growth as a dynamic part of San Diego’s cultural life.

Financial support is provided by City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.

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