The San Diego Arab Film Festival is a project of KARAMA

2019 San Diego Arab Film Festival Set to Open With First Oscar Submission From Yemen

The San Diego Arab Film Festival announced its line up and schedule for 2019. It will open on April 5 with the Yemeni film 10 Days Before the Wedding, the first commercial film in modern Yemeni history and that country’s first submission to the Oscars. Filming under extremely difficult circumstances and with a miniscule budget, director Amr Gamal produced a film that has been greeted enthusiastically by audiences in Yemen and internationally.

10 Days Before the Wedding is one of 9 feature films and 6 shorts that will be featured during the Festival. Like last year, the festival will host 3 screenings at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park and 7 at the AMC 20 complex at Westfield Mission Valley. Taken together, this year’s offerings represent the Festival’s broadest and highest quality line up yet.

This year, the Festival will offer passes for all 10 screenings and 3-screening ticket packages as well as tickets for individual screenings. Individual tickets are $12 General and $7 Student. Three ticket packages are $33. Festival Passes are $100.

For screenings at MOPA, Arabic dinners are available for $15/plate. Dinner prices include coffee, tea, water, dessert and sales tax. The opening night screening will include a live oud performance before the film showing.

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by clicking on the ‘BUY TICKETS’ buttons below .

Festival Passes

San Diego Arab Film Festival offers two ticket package.  One is a Festival Pass which includes admission to all 10 screenings.  The second is a 3-ticket combination which can be used for admission to any 3 screenings you choose.

Arabic Dinner

Arabic dinners, both meat-based and vegan, will be served buffet style at the screenings held at the Museum of Photographic Arts.  The the meat-based entree is musakhan (a classic Palestinian dish of roasted chicken with onion and spices).  The vegan entree is mujadara (a lentil-based dish with carmelized onions).  Both menus will include hummus, falafel, Arabic salad, bread, coffee, tea, water and baklava.

On Friday, April 5, dinner will be available from 6:15 PM until the film program starts.  On Saturday, April 6, dinner will be available fro 5:20 PM until 8:45 PM.

Individual Screening Tickets

Opening Night! 7:30 PM, Friday, April 5 Museum of Photographic Arts

10 Days Before the Wedding (Yemen)

Directed by Amr Gamal

A number of obstacles stand in the way of Rasha and Ma’moon, a young Yemeni couple, as only 10 days are left before their wedding.  They had tried to marry once before, but the 2015 war got in the way.  After so much suffering, they try the best they can to make it happen in 2018.  Yet again, obstacles appear but this time it’s not the war, it’s the aftermath.  Starting from having to evacuate their homes, and dealing with war dealers controlling their faiths, going through conflicts with armed militias, then ending with the economic crisis, the couple struggles to race with time to make sure the wedding happens on time.

Director Amr Gamal has been invited to attend and present his film.  He has applied for a visa and, if approved, he will be here!


6:15 PM, Saturday, April 6, Museum of Photographic Arts

Heaven Without People (Lebanon)

Directed by Lucien Bourjelly

Set in Lebanon, Josephine, the matriarch of a sprawling family is delighted to gather everyone for Easter lunch for the first time in two years.  While they all share a joyful meal, an incident ignites underlying tensions between the family members.  Older and younger generations clash as each of the family members confront their own political and moral hypocrisies and slowly unravel the ties that bind.


8:35 PM, Saturday, April 6, Museum of Photographic Arts

Kilikis…the Town of Owls (Morocco)

Directed by Azlarabe Alaoui

The Town of Owls is an isolated residential community situated in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco.  It is inhabited by families and guards of a secret political prison camp, which remained out of history for a long time until the early 1990s.  Guards spend their long days back and forth between the secret prison and the village, through a suspension bridge built upon a deep valley that connects the village with the fortress prison.  The story is about people from different places with dissimilar destinies, yet coalesced together by a common fate that makes them realize that the Town of Owls is in fact a titanic prison in which everyone, including guards and residents, are held detainees.

Director Azlarabe Aloui has been invited to attend and present his film.  He has applied for a visa and, if approved, he will be here!

1:20 PM, Saturday, April 13

Shorts Program

The Shorts program includes a range of films, including animation, experimental, artistic and conventional narrative films by filmmakers from Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan. Farah Nabulsi, director of the film Nightmare of Gaza, and Hanadi Elyan, director of Nadia’s Visa, will be present to discuss their films.

4:05 PM, Saturday, April 13, AMC 20 Mission Valley

Beauty and the Dogs (Tunisia)

Directed by Kaouther Ben Hania

When Mariam, a young Tunisian woman, is raped by police officers after leaving a party, she is propelled into a harrowing night in which she must fight for her rights even though justice lies on the side of her tormentors. Employing impressive cinematic techniques and anchored by a tour-de-force performance from newcomer Mariam Al Ferjani, Kaouther Ben Hania’s Beauty and the Dogs tells an urgent, unapologetic, and important true story head-on. A rare, startling film from a female Tunisian director, it’s a striking critique on a repressive society and a forcefully feminist rallying cry.

6:20 PM, Saturday, April 13, AMC 20 Mission Valley

Screwdriver (Palestine)

Directed by Bassam Jarbawi

Shot on location in the West Bank with an almost entirely Palestinian crew, Bassam Jarbawi’s feature debut is an important exploration of mental trauma, an invisible effect of the ongoing Occupation. Newly released Ziad doesn’t recognize the world around him. He is a free man but his friends have moved on, technology has changed, and dating seems impossible. Though hailed as a hero for his involvement in a failed attack on a settler — the act that led to his imprisonment — the young Palestinian man has doubts about whether his actions had any real meaning.  Now living back at home in Ramallah, Ziad’s attempts to adjust to life on the outside prove to be frustratingly slow.  When he meets a young Palestinian–American filmmaker, it becomes clear Ziad’s problems aren’t just sociological, but also psychological.  And with no real help to heal this unseen wound, it seems that he might end up exactly where he began.

8:45 PM, Saturday, April 13, AMC 20 Mission Valley

My Favorite Fabric (Syria)

Directed by Gay Jiji

Damascus, March 2011.  In the midst of the rumblings of revolution, Nahla, a young woman of 25, is torn between her desires for freedom and to express her own identity, on the one hand, and her mother’s hopes of getting her family out of the country through an arranged marriage with Samir, a Syrian who has emigrated to the United States, on the other.  However, Samir prefers her younger and more docile sister, Myriam.  Consequently, Nahla grows closer to her new neighbor, Madame Jiji, who has just moved into her building in order to open a brothel.

1:35 PM, Sunday, April 14 AMC 20 Mission Valley

Cactus Flower (Egypt)

Directed by Hala Elkoussy

Aida (33) is a struggling actress from a provincial background. She finds herself on the streets of Cairo along with her neighbor, Samiha (70), a reclusive bourgeois.  With no money and nowhere to go, the two women, aided by Yassin (20), a street-savvy youth, embark on a journey to find shelter.  Amid the banal and at times disastrous turns their journey takes, they move along parallel journeys of self-discovery.  An extraordinary friendship grows among the unlikely trio; a friendship comparable to a delicate flower blooming from a thorny cactus.


3:55 PM, Sunday, April 14, AMC 20 Mission Valley

The Blessed (Algeria)

Directed by Sofia Djama

Algiers, a few years after the civil war. Amal and Samir have decided to  celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary in a restaurant. While on their way, their share their views on Algeria: Amal tells about lost illusions and Samir about the necessity to cope with them. At the same time, their son Fahim and his friends Feriel and Reda are wandering about in a hostile Algiers about to steal their youth.

6:15 PM, Sunday, April 14, AMC 20 Mission Valley

On Borrowed Time (UAE)

Directed by Yasir Al Yasiri

As four friends spend their senior years in an assisted living facility in Dubai, they find they’re are gradually losing their zest for life, despite some of their best efforts to make the most of each day. It’s a mostly losing battle, until one of them suddenly discovers that he has inherited a large fortune. The men plot an escape from the home with the help of an unwitting nurse, and embark on an adventure that forces them to face their fears and uncover secrets.  Throughout the streets of Dubai, they follow their forgotten dreams on a journey of self-discovery, forgiveness, and fun.

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

2018 is the fourth year that the San Diego Arab Film Festival has received 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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