The San Diego Arab Film Festival is a project of KARAMA

San Diego Arab Film Festival to Screen
The Tower at Special Fall Screening on November 2, 2019

On November 2, the San Diego Arab Film Festival will present a special screening of The Tower, a beautifully animated film that tells the story of Wardi, a young Palestinian girl who lives with her family in the Lebanese refugee camp where she was born. Her beloved great-grandfather, Sidi, was one of the first people to settle in the camp after being exiled from his home and homeland, Palestine, in 1948. When Sidi gives Wardi the key to his old house back in the Galilee, she fears he may have lost hope of someday returning home. As she searches for Sidi’s lost hope around the camp, she collects her family’s testimonies, from one generation to the next. An uplifting film that captures the story of Palestine through four generations.

Directed by Norwegian filmmaker Mats Grorund, the film took 8 years to make and is based on his experience of living for a year in the Burj el Barajneh refugee camp near Beirut where he taught English and animation.  To see photos of set design and construction, click here.

Note to Parents: The Chicago International Children’s Film Festival recommends this film for ages 15 and up, noting issues regarding language, mature themes and violence.

A complete Palestinian meal will be available before the film.  The meal will include vegetarian and meat option plus dessert, water, coffee and tea.  Film admission price is $15 general and $10 student.  Dinner is $12 if purchased on line, $15 at the door.

On-line ticket sales will close at Noon on November 2 unless they sell out sooner.  Remaining ickets will be available at the door until sold out.


Get Tickets

The Tower has won these awards, among others:

  • Best Animated Feature, Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, 2018
  • Liv Ullman Peace Prize (to director), Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, 2018
  • Special Jury Award, Monstra Lisbon Animated Film Festival, 2019
  • Best Soundtrack, Monstra Lisbon Animated Film Festival, 2019

Saturday, November 2
Museum of Photographic Arts
1649 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101
Film screens at 7:00 PM.
Palestinian dinner available for purchase at 6:00 PM

San Diego Arab Film Festival Announces Call for Submission for 2020 Festival

The San Diego Arab Film Festival (San Diego AFF) invites submissions for its upcoming festival scheduled for March 27-29 and April 3-4, 2019.  San Diego AFF is seeking narrative, documentary, experimental and animated films, both features and shorts.

San Diego AFF began in 2012 and presents films from and about the Arab world that reinforce the humanity of Arab people and it highlights the dynamism and creativity of contemporary Arab culture.  The Festival strives to show top-quality films that offer honest and realistic portrayals of Arab people and their culture, history and politics without reinforcing negative stereotypes.

San Diego AFF is a project of KARAMA, a 501(c)(3) in San Diego.  For more information about the Festival, visit  For information about KARAMA, visit

San Diego AFF accepts submissions on FilmFreeway. Click on the links below to access the submission pages.

Schedule of Submissions

Opening Date:  July 1, 2019

Regular Deadline:  September 15,2019

Late Deadline:  October 15, 2019

Notification Date:  December 15, 2019

Event Date:  March 27 -April 4, 2020

Awards and Prizes

Selected films will be entered into competition for Audience Awards for Best Feature Film and Best Short Film.

Rules and Terms

San Diego Arab Film Festival seeks films from and about the Arab world produced between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2019.  Films must have legible English subtitles unless there is little or no dialogue.


San Diego AFF prefers that submissions be made via Film Freeway, however downloadable links (with passwords) may be submitted to  Selected films must be available in DCP, high resolution .264 or Blu-Ray format with a frame rate of 24fps.  Please include director’s name, country of origin, and a brief description.

By special arrangements, submissions may be made by mail or delivery service with the understandings that San Diego AFF will not bear costs related to shipping and that submitted media may not be returned.  Contact for further information.


Regular Deadline:  Feature films, $15; short films, $10

Late Deadline:  Feature films, $25; short films, $20.

Pay fees via Film Freeway at time of submission.

Selected Films

Official Selections will be asked to provide a password protected link for previewing, high resolutions stills and any available press materials for use in publicizing the film and the Festival.

2019 San Diego Arab Film Festival Concludes; Audience Choice Awards Announced

The 2019 San Diego Arab Film Festival completed its run on Sunday, April 14.  A hearty “thank you” to all of you who made this year’s edition a success.

This year, for the first time, the Festival gave Audience Choice Awards for feature and short films.  The  Audience Choice Awards went to 10 Days Before the Wedding (feature film from Yemen) and The Cord (short film from Syria).

10 Days Before the Wedding was directed by Amr Gamal and was the opening night film for the Festival.  Amr Gamal came to the festival and to present his film.  10 Days was Yemen’s first ever submission to the Oscars.  Although it wasn’t selected as a nominee in the Oscars foreign language film category, it has been well-received at film festivals internationally.  Here, it was selected from the 9 feature films screened.

Allaith Hajjo’s The Cord was one of more than 80 short films submitted to the 2019 Festival.  It’s screening here is believed to be its first in the western hemisphere.

Planning is already starting for the 2020 San Diego Arab Film Festival, tentatively scheduled for March 27-28 and April 4-5.

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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