San Diego Arab Film Festival is Back for Its 10th Year!

The San Diego Arab Film Festival is back for 2021 with a hybrid festival: live, in-person feature film showings at the Museum of Photographic Arts combined with an online offering of short films.  Both the in-person and on-line  presentations begin on June 5.

The Festival program showcases 6 feature films and 15 short films from across the Arab World.  The Festival is proud to present the first film from Sudan ever submitted to the Oscars, Oscar submitted films from Morocco and Lebanon, as well as a range of films from and about Palestine, Egypt, UAE, Qatar Iraq, France, USA, and UK that have been well received at international festivals around the world.

In-person screenings will follow the COVID protocols in place at the time, but we expect that those protocols will include wearing masks and limiting attendance to 50% of theater capacity.

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

Feature Films

The Festival opens with the Palestinian drama Between Heaven and Earth directed by Najwa Najjar.  The following nights will showcase 3 Oscar submissions: Sudan’s first ever submission You Will Die at 20 directed by Amjad Abu Alala, Morocco’s The Unknown Saint directed by Alaa Eddine Aljem and Lebanon’s The Broken Keys directed by Jimmy Keyrouz.  From the Arab Diaspora (France, Algeria) the Festival will present Honey Cigar directed by Kamir Ainouz.  The Festival will close with the Palestinian film 200 Meters directed by Ameen Nayfeh.  More information about the films is below.

Tickets are on sale now at, including individual films at $15 (Discounted to $12 for students), 3-ticket packages for $40 and Festival passes for $60.

Short Films

This year the Festival  offers 15 films from across the Arab world and the Diaspora representing a range of styles and genres, including narrative drama and comedy, documentary, animated and experimental films.  These films can be streamed at  The final lineup is still being finalized and will be announced soon.

Films that have been screened at Cannes and Venice have already confirmed, and more are being added every day.  They will be available for viewing at your leisure beginning on June 5.

Feature Films

Saturday, June 5, 6:15 PM & 8:30 PM

Between Heaven and Earth  Directed by Najwa Najjar
Based on a true story, the film follows a thirty-something couple, Salma and Tamer, who have been married for the past five years. Now separated, Salma moved back to Nazareth. Tamer stayed in their house in the West Bank.  The first time Tamer is ever given a three-day permit to cross the Israeli checkpoint, is to file for divorce in the courts in Nazareth. At the courthouse, they are confronted with a staggering discovery, a secret which sends Salma and Tamer spinning on a road trip exploring the loss and betrayal of the past, and of themselves.

Won Audience Award at Boston Palestine Film Festival and Best Screenplay at Cairo International Film Festival

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

Friday, June 11, 7:30 PM

The Unknown Saint  Directed by Alaa Eddine Aljem

Moments before his capture by police, a thief digs a grave to hide a bag of money. Released from prison years later, he returns to retrieve the bag, only to find a shrine to an unknown Saint built directly over his loot, and a brand new village constructed all around it.

Submitted by Morocco to 2021 Oscars

Fore information about the film and to see a trailer, click here.

Friday, June 18, 7:30 PM

Broken Keys  Directed by Jimmy Keyrouz

Karim, a pianist dreaming of a career in Europe, lives in a war-torn Middle-Eastern town where modern ways of living have been banned by an extremist group. He is forced to sell his piano to gather money and leave. But things entangle when his piano is shot. Karim then embarks on a dangerous quest to repair his broken keys.

Submitted by Lebanon to the 2021 Oscars

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

Saturday, June 12, 8:35 PM

Honey Cigar  Directed by Kamir Ainouz

Selma, 17, who lives in a bourgeois and secular Berber family. When she meets Julien in college, she realizes for the first time the impact of patriarchal rules on her intimacy.  This film is in French and Berber languages with English subtitles.

Parental Advisory: In the US, this film would likely be rated R.

Nominated, New Wave Award Best Film, Seville European Film Festival

For more information about the film, click here.

Saturday, June 12, 6:15 PM & Saturday, June 19, 8:45 PM

200 Meters  Directed by Ameen Nayfeh

A Palestinian father trapped on the other side of the separation wall is trying to reach the hospital for his son.

Winner of awards in Europe, China, India, Egypt and US

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

Saturday, June 19, 6:15 PM

You Will Die At 20  Directed by Amjad Abu Alala

Shortly after Muzamil was born, the village’s holy man predicts that he will die at age 20. Muzamil’s father can’t stand the curse and leaves home. Sakina raises her son as a single mother, overly protective. One day, Muzamil turns 19.

Submitted by Sudan to the 2021 Oscars

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

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

2020-2021 is the sixth 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.

San Diego Arab Film Festival is the registered trademark of KARAMA.

It is not affiliated with Arab Film and Media Institute or its Arab Film Festival.

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