san diego
arab film festival

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welcome to the 13th annual
san diego arab film festival!

April 12-21, 2024

Days
Hours
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Tickets are on sale now, with individual screenings at $15 (discounted to $12 for students), 3-ticket packages for $40 and passes for all 8 screenings for $80. Arabic dinners will be available each evening for $15.

Online ticket sales close the morning of the event.

Tickets will be available at the door until sold out.

San diego Arab Film Festival

The San Diego Arab Film Festival is dedicated to the memory and legacy of Stephanie Jennings, friend, comrade and activist.

lineup AND SCHEDULE

The San Diego Arab Film Festival is back for 2024 with live, in-person presentations of feature length and short films at the Museum of Photographic Arts.  The festival will open on Friday, April 12, and present 8 screenings, each showcasing one feature film and one short film, from across the Arab World.  Each evening, the festival will also offer cafeteria-style Arabic dinner.

We are excited to bring these films to the San Diego community!

This event has passed.

 

Friday, April 12, 7:20 PM

I AM FROM PALESTINE
By Iman Zawahry

As Saamidah, a young Palestinian-American girl, anxiously starts her first day of school, she finds her identity in question when faced with a world map that does not include her homeland of Palestine. In this poignant, short animation, Iman Zawahry...

A HOUSE IN JERUSALEM
By Muayad Alayan

Following the death of her mother in a car accident, ten-year-old Rebecca moves with her father Michael from the UK to Jerusalem in search of a fresh start. There, they take up residence in a villa left to Michael by his father, in a neighborhood of West...

Online ticket sales for this event have closed, but tickets will continue to be on sale at the door.

Saturday, April 13, 6:10 PM

A CALLING . FROM THE DESERT . TO THE SEA
By Murad Abu Eisheh

Fearing that her younger sister will be married off just like she was, Ahlam lures Yasmin to run away with her by telling a story of a mythical sea that lies beyond the desolate desert and its mountains. In search of this sea, the two sisters journey far from...

MACHTAT
By Sonia Ben Slama

A trio of female wedding singers find freedom in their art in this evolving Tunisian documentary. In a small Tunisian town, filmmaker Director Sonia Ben Slama chronicles the daily lives of Fatma and her daughters Najeh and Waffeh, “Machtat,” or...

Online ticket sale for this event have closed, but tickets will continue to be on sale at the door.

Saturday, April 13, 8:25 PM

THAT SEVEN DAYS
By Ehsan Shademani

A Palestinian couple living in Gaza is preparing for their wedding when an event changes their life story. After this incident, the Palestinian bride is reviewing her memories of the joys and sorrows of the 7 days leading up to the...

AIDA RETURNS
By Carol Mansour

Aida Returns is a poignant, sometimes sad, sometimes painful, sometimes humorous, often absurd story of a multiple journey: the journey of loss as the director's mother Aida struggled with losing herself to Alzheimer's disease, but finding...

Friday, April 19, 7:20 PM

THE TIME WE MEET
By Liyan Kaawach

A man enjoys his morning tea in his home, located in the Palestinian village of Meiroun. He is then interrupted by a taciturn stranger taking pictures of his home. Despite the man’s multiple attempts to converse with the stranger, the latter maintains...

FEZ SUMMER '55
By Laraki Abdelhaï

Summer 1955. Kamal, an 11 year old boy of the Medina of Fez, is experiencing the last months before Morocco's independence. In contact to Aïcha and her fellow students of the Qaraouiyine university, he discovers and takes part in the fight...

Saturday, April 20, 6:00 PM

M'DINA
By Jan Hamshoro

"M'dina" is an experimental documentary that captures everyday scenery through the lens of a foreigner in the old city in Tunisia. Life in this mystic place though it might seem exotic is a narrative as old as time: humans with their hopes and dreams...

DANCING ON THE EDGE OF A VOLCANO
By Cyril Aris

On August 4th, 2020, the catastrophic explosion at the port of Beirut leaves a large part of the Lebanese capital in ruins. In the midst of the chaos, a troubled film crew faces an overwhelming decision: to continue the production of their movie or abandon...

Saturday, April 20, 8:15 PM

PHONE BREAKER
By Hamza Atifi

To avenge his mother and rid his living space of invading telephones, Jalil, a washed-up employee, becomes the "Phone Breaker" and leads a ruthless vendetta against the telecommunications industry.

THE BURDENED
By Amr Gamal

Based on true events that take place in Aden around 2019, the film follows the struggles of a married couple and their three children after both husband and wife lose their jobs as a result of the country’s economic crisis. After the mother...

Sunday, April 21, 5:30 PM

FATHER'S FOOTSTEPS
By Mohamad W. Ali

In the Syrian War, a woman lost her husband and tries to hide the truth from her tongue-tied (mute) child by acting the father role, facing life alone trying to protect her family.

DOUNIA AND THE PRINCESS OF ALEPPO
By Marya Zarif, André Kadi

An animated film that merges reality and magic, the film tells the story of Dounia, a 6 year old who lives in Aleppo, a thousand-year-old legendary city in the heart of the world. But one day, war breaks out. So she leaves Aleppo with a few nigella seeds in her...

Sunday, April 21, 7:35 PM

MAR MAMA
By Majdi El Omari

With her mother's death and recurring attacks by Israeli forces on her city, a young girl becomes obsessed with death. Her father makes a film to distract her but he fails and the girl finds nothing but imagination to escape from reality.

LYD
By Rami Younis, Sarah Friedland

This feature-length, sci-fi documentary shares multiple pasts, presents, and futures of the city of Lyd in Palestine. Lyd was once a thriving Palestinian city with a rich history. In 636AD, it was even considered the first capital of Palestine. In 1948, hundreds of Lyd’s Palestinian residents were massacred by...

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

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KARAMA’s vision is to grow the San Diego Arab Film Festival into a major cultural event that enhances the identity, perception and understanding of the Arab and the Arab world. Doing so will require time, energy and money. You can help in multiple ways…

Highlights

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I AM FROM PALESTINE

A HOUSE IN JERUSALEM

Synopsis

As Saamidah, a young Palestinian-American girl, anxiously starts her first day of school, she finds her identity in question when faced with a world map that does not include her homeland of Palestine. In this poignant, short animation, Iman Zawahry directs the viewer through a rich celebration of cultural nuances and iconic elements. Through an exploration of Saamidah’s cultural identity and Palestinian pride, the viewer is invited to an intimate view of her self-discovery.

Synopsis

Following the death of her mother in a car accident, ten-year-old Rebecca moves with her father Michael from the UK to Jerusalem in search of a fresh start. There, they take up residence in a villa left to Michael by his father, in a neighborhood of West Jerusalem known as the Valley of the Ghosts. Left to her own devices, Rebecca explores the house and its overgrown yard. In a disused well, she finds a decades-old doll and takes it inside. It isn’t long before another little girl—ethereal, pale, dripping wet, invisible to all but Rebecca—comes looking for the doll. After several uncanny appearances, the girl eventually identifies herself as Rasha, a Palestinian forced from the villa along with her entire family during the 1948 War. Determined to help Rasha reunite with her mother, Rebecca sets out to learn more. She embarks on a search that leads her to a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank, where she tracks down an elderly dollmaker.

A CALLING . FROM THE DESERT . TO THE SEA

MACHTAT

Synopsis

Fearing that her younger sister will be married off just like she was, Ahlam lures Yasmin to run away with her by telling a story of a mythical sea that lies beyond the desolate desert and its mountains. In search of this sea, the two sisters journey far from their home, predetermined fate and secluded life with their father.

Synopsis

A trio of female wedding singers find freedom in their art in this evolving Tunisian documentary. In a small Tunisian town, filmmaker Director Sonia Ben Slama chronicles the daily lives of Fatma and her daughters Najeh and Waffeh, “Machtat,” or traditional musicians. They plant, pick, and weed in the winter, then celebrate and bless weddings in the summer.

THAT SEVEN DAYS

AIDA RETURNS

Synopsis

A Palestinian couple living in Gaza is preparing for their wedding when an event changes their life story. After this incident, the Palestinian bride is reviewing her memories of the joys and sorrows of the 7 days leading up to the wedding day and whispering to her husband, Ahmed, who is a fisherman from Gaza. This documentary tries for the first time to discuss the word resistance along with the concept of life in Palestine and Gaza.

Synopsis

Aida Returns is a poignant, sometimes sad, sometimes painful, sometimes humorous, often absurd story of a multiple journey: the journey of loss as the director’s mother Aida struggled with losing herself to Alzheimer’s disease, but finding solace in her repeated “returning” to the Yafa and Palestine of her youth; the journey of the loss of a parent; and the ultimate return journey back to Yafa where Aida would finally find rest and be herself once more. This journey is at the same time very private and personal, while resonating with hundreds of thousands of Alzheimer’s sufferers and their families as well as hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees awaiting their return home.

Close to four years after Aida’s passing away, the director’s friend and colleague Tanya who lives in Ramallah came to visit Beirut. When she heard about Aida’s wishes and yearning for Yafa, Tanya suggested that she herself carries the ashes back. The film accompanies director Carol Mansour as she engineers a way to return her mother to Yafa in search of eternal rest and peace for her. A return that is aided by an unlikely set of friends and strangers all coming together to facilitate what should have been a simple  journey. 

THE TIME WE MEET

FEZ SUMMER '55

Synopsis

A man enjoys his morning tea in his home, located in the Palestinian village of Meiroun. He is then interrupted by a taciturn stranger taking pictures of his home. Despite the man’s multiple attempts to converse with the stranger, the latter maintains his silence. The man sits next to the stranger, reading him a poem by the Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, and then invites him in for a game of backgammon. As they play, the man loses three rounds to the stranger, yet he only grows more determined regardless of his loss. In the end, the man halts the game and gives the stranger a lesson about the true meaning of heritage and rightful ownership. The stranger wins the third round, symbolizing the ongoing Palestinian struggle. 

Synopsis

Directed by Abdelhai Laraki

Produced by Caroline Lacardi, A2L Production (Morocco)

Summer 1955. Kamal, an 11 year old boy of the Medina of Fez, is experiencing the last months before Morocco’s independence. In contact to Aïcha and her fellow students of the Qaraouiyine university, he discovers and takes part in the fight for freedom. The director says, “My movie puts forward the question of identity and the end of colonialism through the innocent eyes of a boy. Through Kamal we discover a millennial’s Moroccan culture and the dignity of a people in their painful yet essential quest for independence. This is about coming of age, this is about women’s empowerment, passion and repression, violence and dignity, fears and hopes of a people struggling for freedom.”

M'DINA

DANCING ON THE EDGE OF A VOLCANO

Synopsis

“M’dina” is an experimental documentary that captures everyday scenery through the lens of a foreigner in the old city in Tunisia. Life in this mystic place though it might seem exotic is a narrative as old as time: humans with their hopes and dreams navigating through the journey of existence. With unedited sounds, this work is a sensory experience to be savored loudly and brightly.

Synopsis

On August 4th, 2020, the catastrophic explosion at the port of Beirut leaves a large part of the Lebanese capital in ruins. In the midst of the chaos, a troubled film crew faces an overwhelming decision: to continue the production of their movie or abandon it? As they face the aftermath of the catastrophe, they are torn between their firm belief in the transformative power of cinema, opposing a deep sense of cynicism about its ability to enable change in a nation plagued by economic turmoil and societal collapse. “Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano” chronicles their struggles and highlights the crew’s resilience as they strive to find meaning and purpose in their work amidst the devastation.

PHONE BREAKER

THE BURDENED

Synopsis

To avenge his mother and rid his living space of invading telephones, Jalil, a washed-up employee, becomes the “Phone Breaker” and leads a ruthless vendetta against the telecommunications industry. 

Synopsis

Based on true events that take place in Aden around 2019, the film follows the struggles of a married couple and their three children after both husband and wife lose their jobs as a result of the country’s economic crisis. After the mother discovers she is carrying a fourth child, the beleaguered parents try to get an abortion despite their community’s conservative stance, forcing the family to make tough decisions in order to survive. 

FATHER'S FOOTSTEPS

DOUNIA AND THE
PRINCESS OF ALEPPO

Synopsis

In the Syrian War, a woman lost her husband and tries to hide the truth from her tongue-tied (mute) child by acting the father role, facing life alone trying to protect her family.

Synopsis

An animated film that merges reality and magic, the film tells the story of Dounia, a 6 years old who lives in Aleppo, a thousand-year-old legendary city in the heart of the world. But one day, war breaks out. So she leaves Aleppo with a few nigella seeds in her hand. With the help of the princess of Aleppo, Dounia makes the journey to a new world. Throughout her journey, Dounia, whose beautiful first name means “the world” in Arabic, is accompanied by the rich tales and music of her country. And, in the face of a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, the wisdom of the ancient world comes to rescue the girl in the form of her grandmother’s nigella seeds and the legends of the Levant.  Dounia is a geopolitical story that is told at a child’s level. It’s a quest of initiation that poetically and delicately tells the story of the exile and uprooting of war, while exploring current themes of migration, identity, dialogue of cultures, and living together. 

MAR MAMA

LYD

Synopsis

With her mother’s death and recurring attacks by Israeli forces on her city, a young girl becomes obsessed with death. Her father makes a film to distract her but he fails and the girl finds nothing but imagination to escape from reality. 

Synopsis

This feature-length, sci-fi documentary shares multiple pasts, presents, and futures of the city of Lyd in Palestine. Lyd was once a thriving Palestinian city with a rich history. In 636AD, It was even considered the first capital of Palestine. In 1948, hundreds of Lyd’s Palestinian residents were massacred by Israeli forces, and most of the city’s 50,000 Palestinian residents were exiled. Today, the city has a Jewish Israeli majority and a Palestinian minority and is disinvested and divided by racism and violence. For Palestinians, Lyd’s story is a painful and tragic fall from grace. Using never-before-seen archival footage of the Israeli soldiers who carried out the massacre and expulsion, the city explains that these events were so devastating that they fractured her reality, and now there are two Lyds –– one occupied and one free. As the film unfolds, documentary portions create a tapestry of the Palestinian experience of this city while vivid animations use the language of speculative fiction to envision an alternate reality where the same documentary characters live free from the trauma of the past and the violence of the present.