The San Diego Arab Film Festival is a project of KARAMA

Below are the films that were screened during the 2019 San Diego Arab Film Festival.



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.

We believe that this film is appropriate for general audiences (G).

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


Heaven Without People (Lebanon)

Directed by Lucien Bourjeily

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 them together.

We believe that this film contains some strong language that some parents may find objectionable for small children (PG).

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


Kilikis…the Town of Owls (Morocco)

This screening is co-presented by the National Arab American Medical Association-San Diego Chapter

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.

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

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


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.

We believe that some of the shorts contain strong language that some parents might consider to be inappropriate for small children (PG).

For more information about these shorts, click here.


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.

We believe that this film would be rated PG-13 in the US.

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


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.

We believe that this film would be rated either G or PG (violence) in the US.

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


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.

We believe that this film would likely be rated R in the US because of its frank treatment of sexual themes.

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


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.

We believe that this film would likely be rated G or PG i the US.

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


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, they 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.

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

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


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.

We believe that this film is suitable for general audiences.

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

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