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All the Arab Films to Root for at the 2021 Venice Film Festival

The 2021 Venice Film Festival features an impressive lineup of much-anticipated films from around the globe. Representing the region is a selection of promising Arab films by directors inclusding Mohamed Diab, Diana El Jeiroudi, and Mounia Akl.

Ahead of the festival, here are all the films from the region to root for.

1. Amira by Mohamed Diab

Photo: Courtesy of Pyramide Films

Set in Palestine, Mohamed Diab’s Amira is a coming-of-age film that tells the story of 17 year old Amira’s (Tara Abboud) search for her identity. The film was co-written by Diab and his siblings; Khaled and Sherine Diab. “Amira is a microcosmic exploration of the division and xenophobia that exists in today’s world. In the process of unraveling our heroine’s identity, the film begs the question, is hatred nature or nurtured?” a statement from the director reads. The film has also received nominations for the Festival’s Orizzonti Award under multiple categories.

2. Republic of Silence by Diana El Jeiroudi

Photo: Courtesy of Venice Film Festival

Syrian filmmaker Diana El Jeiroudi’s documentary Republic of Silence will be shown in the Out Of Competition Nonfiction category. The film is a personal story of her childhood in Syria and her exile in Berlin, Germany, forty years later. The film’s synopsis promises “a first-person narrative which pendulates between a perspective that is timelessly personal and intimate, and another which is, on the contrary, very vast, contemporary and political.” El Jeiroudi was also the first Syrian juror at the Cannes Film Festival as well as the first Syrian member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

3. Costa Brava, Lebanon by Mounia Akl

Photo: Courtesy of Mounia Akl

The film Costa Brava, Lebanon directed by Mounia Akl and co-written by Akl and Clara Roquet will have its world premiere under the Horizons Extra category. The film features Nadine Labaki, known for her work in the Oscar-nominated film Capernaum, along with Saleh Bakri, Nadia Charbel, Ceana Restom, Geana Restom, Liliane Chacar Khoury, Yumna Marwan in its cast. Costa Brava, Lebanon tells the story of the Badri family, who leave Beirut for the mountains, escaping pollution but problems arise when a new landfill is built very close to their new home. Akl explains that “I try to look at a family’s structure in hopes of mirroring the one of our society. Once this family is fractured, it can reinvent itself with less lies and more selfless love.”

4. Don’t Get Too Comfortable by Shaima El Tamimi

Photo: Courtesy of Venice Film Festival

Don’t Get Too Comfortable is a documentary short film directed by Shaima El Tamimi. It is the first Yemeni film to be showcased at the Festival. According to its synopsis, the film is a “heartfelt introspective letter” to El Tamimi’s late grandfather. In a statement, the director said, “Through this work I am hoping to draw attention to ongoing Yemeni migration, encouraging greater recognition of our stories and fostering space for collective healing among Yemeni migrants and their descendants.” It has also received a nomination for the Festival’s Orizzonti Award in the category for Best Short Film.

5. Descente (4 AM) by Mehdi Fikri

Photo: Courtesy of Mehdi Fikri

Descente (4 AM) by Mehdi Fikri is a narrative short film that is set in France in 2015 following the Paris terror attacks. The film brings to life Fikri’s vision for a “single, long take that traps the audience in the sensory and ethical turmoil within a police search.” Fikri believes that it is important to use films to explore issues that we as members of society collectively dislike facing. This film is also nominated for an Orizzonti Award under the category for Best Short Film.

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