9 Arab American Film Festivals That Celebrate Cultural Expression

With millions of Arabs living in the diaspora, film is one of the most wide reaching forms of self-expression and a celebration of identity. Seeing an Arab narrative on the silver screen is not only a great form of cultural expression, it’s an accomplishment for every Arab involved in the film.


Arab Film Festival


One of the oldest Arab film festivals in America (and the film festival I grew up with), the AFF showcases the latest film sensations from Arabs all over the globe along the California coast. Attendees know when October rolls around to buy their tickets because tickets for opening night at the historic Castro Theater always sell out! The AFF makes takes a road trip down the coast with stops in Berkeley, Los Angeles and San Diego.


Atlanta Palestine Film Festival


Fall in the ATL is a time to get out the popcorn and get all emotional with all the Palestinian feels the big screen has to offer. The APFF is not only a time to celebrate and commemorate excellence in Palestinian cinema, but a time to raise and spread awareness for the Atlanta community at large.


Chicago Palestine Film Festival



With a very active Palestinian community in Chicago, it was only natural for a Palestinian Film Festival to emerge in 2001. The CPFF has acted as a mirror of the various experiences for many Palestinians living in the windy city.


Arabian Sights Film Festival DC


The nation’s capital is home to many political professionals, including many Arabs. The Arabian Sights Film Festival has been screening reflections of narratives that represent the diverse Arab community since 1996.


Cape Cod Festival of Arab & Middle Eastern Cinema

cape cod

There are Arabs in Cape Cod?! Yes, and there’s a Cape Cod Festival of Arab & Middle Eastern Cinema, a biennial event that highlights MENA’s finest full-length feature films. The fourth edition of the festival will take place in the Spring of 2017.


Boston Palestine Film Festival


Bringing Palestine to New England, the BPFF is a part of the Middle East Charitable and Cultural Society Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization. Along with films, BPFF hosts Palestinian musicians and artists and partners up with other festivals around the U.S. to build awareness through the big screen.


Ann Arbour Palestine Film Festival

ann arbour

Founded in 2009, the Ann Arbor Palestine Film Festival was created by activists who are not only dedicated to the Palestinian cause, but also the well of creativity and flourishing arts that stem from the Palestinian identity. This year, the film will host the U.S. debut of Golden Globe-winning director Hany Abu Assad’s latest, The Idol.


Twin Cities Arab Film Festival


The Twin Cities Arab Film Festival has been running since 2003, screening films from all over the region and from Arab filmmakers in the diaspora as part of Mizna, a Twin Cities organization dedicated to nourishing Arab talent and sharing its artistic achievements with the community at large.


Houston Palestine Film Festival


As a non-profit, the film festival of the South aims to reflect uniqueness of Palestinian identities through a series of original films that demonstrate the trials, tribulations and ultimate beauty of Palestinian culture.

Know a talented Arab American artists? Let us know at samarwrites@gmail.com

Originally published on Scoop Empire  February 20, 2016


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