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 1927

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
A timeline of key developments from 1897 to 2007 (in French)

Youssef Chahine
A page about the great Egyptian film director

Film resources

IMDb – Internet Movie Database
This database has details of Arab films, directors, actors, etc. Films can be searchedby countryas well as by titles and keywords.

Arab Film Distribution
Based in the United States, Arab Film Distribution robably has the largest selection of Arab films for home viewing or showing to audiences.

The 10 best Arab films
Omar al-Qattan. The Guardian, 6 July 2013

Five beautiful films that finally give Middle Eastern women the voice they deserve
Chelsea Hawkins. arts.mic, 1 November 2013

Films set in the Middle East
Wikipedia lists

Hollywood Arabs
How western cinema portrays the Middle East

Articles about Arab cinema

Al-Jadid magazine
Al-Jadid is a US-based magazine about Arab culture. Its website has a collection ofarticles about films. The magazine also publishesfilm reviews(for subscribers only).

Popcorn revolution in Saudi Arabia? Kingdom mulls the return of cinemas
Brian Whitaker, 11 November 2014

Wadjda, Saudi Arabia's first female film, is country's Oscar entry
Xan Brooks. The Guardian, 16 September 2013

Secret cinema gently subverts Saudi Arabia's puritanism
David Batty. The Guardian, 15 October 2012

Saudi Arabia: Ceci n'est pas un cinema
Brian Whitaker, 2 December 2010

Filmmaker in the land of no cinema
Caryle Murphy. The National, 13 July 2010

Cut! The Jeddah film festival is stopped
Brian Whitaker, 20 July 2009

Cartoons herald return of cinema to Saudi Arabia
Brian Whitaker. The Guardian, 19 October 2005

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).


Arab Film Festival
Established in 1996, the Arab Film Festival is the largest independent annual showcase of Arab films and filmmakers in the United States. The festival has an international standing and is considered one of the most important Arab film festivals outside the Arab world. It aims "to enhance understanding of Arab culture and provide alternative representations of Arabs that contradict stereotypes frequently encountered in the American mass media while fostering a space for independent Arab filmmakers to screen their work for the public".

Cairo International Film Festival
Held annually since 1976 (except for 2011 and 2013), this is the oldest international film festival in the Arab world..

Carthage Film Festival
(Journees Cinematographiques de Carthage)
Held annually in Tunis since 2014 (previously biannually alternating with the Carthage Theatre).

Marrakech International Film Festival
Held annually in Marrakech, Morocco, since 2001

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

Beirut International Film Festival
Held annually in Beirut since 1997.