An open door to the Arab world


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Arts and culture




Arab cinema


"The Arab cinemas are both the product and the expression of a long and unresolved struggle for the control of the image, for the power to define identity. That identity is clearly rooted in the crossroads of culture of the region, extending as it does between Europe and Black Africa, between the Atlantic and the Arabian Gulf, but also between the city and countryside and desert ... between a colonial past and a nominally independent present." 
- film critic Mariam Rosen

History and development

The early years of Arab cinema
From the first Egyptian film in 1925

The new Arab cinema
From the 1960s onwards ... films with a social conscience

The struggle to be seen
Censored films, exiled directors - and the problems of reaching a mass audience

Moroccan cinema
History of the film industry in Morocco, with a guide to Moroccan films. Produced by the Ministry of Information, but factual and interesting.

The legacy of Salah Abu Seif, master of realism in Egyptian cinema
Ibrahim al-Aris
Al Jadid magazine, Vol. 3, No. 15 (February 1997)

Father of neo-realism in Egyptian cinema passes away
With the death of Atef al-Tayeb, Egyptian cinema lost one of its prominent figures.  Al Jadid magazine, Vol.1, No. 1, (December 1995).

Film listings

Internet Movie Database
This is probably the most comprehensive catalogue of Arab films. See country lists for titles and links to directors, actors, locations, etc:

Middle East Filmography
The University of North Carolina claims to have the most comprehensive and diverse collection of films and videos of the Middle East and Islamic world. More than 500 titles are listed, with full credit annotation and a brief commentary. The collection covers a wide range of topics and genres: documentaries on art and architecture, anthropological, geographical and political studies, literary classics and feature films.

Middle East Video Collection
At the University of California-Berkeley. Covers ancient, classical, contemporary, immigrants, culture to politics.

Arab Film Distribution, based in the United States, probably has the largest selection of Arab films available via the Internet. Videos may be purchased worldwide, using a credit card. This extensive website includes a catalogue with critical descriptions of the films, which are listed by title or country of origin.

Film festivals

Arab Film Festival 
Held annually in San Francisco, it aims to provide "alternative representations of Arabs that contradict the stereotypical images frequently encountered in the American mass media". Festival website

Biennale of Arab Cinemas 
(Biennale des Cinémas Arabe) 
Held every other year in Paris since 1992. Focuses on work by Arab film-makers. Festival website; Internet Movie Database

Cairo International Film Festival 
Held annually since 1976. Festival website

Carthage Film Festival 
(Journees Cinematographiques de Carthage) 
Established in 1966 by the Tunisian ministry of culture. Held every other year, it alternates with Damascus festival.Films submitted for the competition must have a director of African or Middle Eastern nationality. Festival website; Wikipedia 

Marrakech International Film Festival 
Held annually since 2001. Festival website

Damascus International Film Festival
Held every other year since 1979, alternating with Carthage. Festival website; Internet Movie Database

Dubai International Film Festival An annual festival established by Dubai Media City in 2004 with the aim of showcasing contemporary and classic global cinema. Festival website

Mid East Film Festival 
Held annually in Beirut since 1997. Its focus is to support young talent from Lebanon and the Middle East and to encourage co-production with the Arab and international community. Festival website


In the cinema section


In the arts and culture section



Arab Cinema: History and Cultural Identity
Viola Shafik, 1999. Order from Amazon (US)  

Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People
by Jack G. Shaheen. Order from Amazon (US) or (UK)

Studies in the Arab Theatre and Cinema
Jacob M. Landau.
Order from Amazon (US)

Arab and African Film Making
Lizbeth Malkmus, Roy Armes, 1991. Order from Amazon (US) or (UK)


World Language offers Arabic films on video, for sale over the internet.

Arab Film Distribution supplies Arabic films on video. 


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Last revised on 03 August, 2015