As Netflix continues its quest to champion regional storytelling on an international level and rapidly expand its diverse collection of Arabic titles for all audiences, dozens of critically-acclaimed Arab films will be added today, June 18, on the worldwide streaming platform. Debuting an eclectic mix of 44 cinematic masterpieces from various time periods and genres, this new catalog of iconic and contemporary Arabic movies is a highly-anticipated window into the rich cultures and celebrated creatives of the Arab world. This carefully curated selection of films showcases the powerful stories that are renowned for shaping the past and modern-day cultural heritage of the region, with content hailing from the UAE, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, Algeria, and Sudan.
Elevating both legendary and emerging Arab talent in the industry, from timeless Cannes Grand Jury Prize-winning Egyptian filmmaker Youssef Chahine to Oscar-nominated Lebanese director of our time Nadine Labaki, each piece of work is an “authentic” and “relatable” glimpse into regional entertainment that reflects the multi-faceted complexity of Arab society, shared Netflix MENAT director of content acquisitions Nuha El Tayeb.
“We want more people around the world to have access to great stories and have the chance to see their lives represented on screen,” said El Tayeb. “We believe great stories come from anywhere and can travel everywhere. They have the potential to connect with audiences far beyond their place or language of origin, and the latest catalog reflects the truly prestigious works of art from the Arab world that we can now share with 183 million members around the world.”
While all the Arabic titles will be available to MENA subscribers, some—especially the majority of the latest releases—will also be offered to Netflix’s global members in 190 countries depending on licensing rights. This unprecedented mass streaming launch will provide long-awaited portals into the evolving nuances and social issues surrounding the region, helping to foster newfound connections with global viewers and inspire future generations of Arab stars.
“It’s about sharing stories from the world, with the world,” explained El Tayeb. “We know that telling local stories that give Arabs the opportunity to see themselves on screen instills pride, and investments like this allow us to provide local talent and filmmakers with a platform to gain fans globally.”
Read on to see which pre-eminent Arabic films will shortly be available to add to your ever-growing watchlist.
For Sama is both an intimate and epic journey into the female experience of war. A love letter from a young mother to her daughter, the film tells the story of Waad al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to Sama, all while cataclysmic conflict rises around her. Her camera captures incredible stories of loss, laughter and survival as Waad wrestles with an impossible choice – whether or not to flee the city to protect her daughter’s life, when leaving means abandoning the struggle for freedom for which she has already sacrificed so much. The film is the first feature documentary by Emmy award-winning filmmakers Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts.
You Will Die at 20
When searching for a blessing on the day of her firstborn child’s naming ceremony, Sakina (Islam Mubarak) is instead given a curse. A traveling sheikh prophecies that her son, Muzamil (played first by Moatasem Rashed then as a teen by Mustafa Shehata), would die at the age of 20. In what is now a coming-of-death tale, a devastated Sakina is sentenced to mourn her son while he lives – an endeavor her husband could not stand to bear. Growing up under the constant loom of death, Muzamil becomes increasingly curious about what it means to live beyond his mother’s confines. Encouraged by local elders, the overprotective Sakina relents and allows her son to study the Quran with the other children his age. And in this newly found freedom, Muzamil finds friends, enemies, love, and tempters, though what he truly seeks is a sense of the present and a chance at the future.
Algiers, 1997. The country is in the hands of terrorist groups, seeking to establish an Islamic and archaic state. Women are particularly affected and oppressed by primitive diktas, who seek to take control of their bodies and control their passage through the public space. While a frenzied hunt for women unveiled is launched, Nedjma, a young student passionate about fashion, is determined to federate the girls of her campus to organize a fashion show braving all the forbidden.
When driving home from southern Tunisia, Fares and Meriem’s car is hit by a stray bullet during an ambush by an armed group; their young son Aziz’s liver is punctured. At a local hospital, the need for a transplant uncovers a secret that risks Aziz’s life should a donor not be found in time. But this is only the beginning of the unexpected twists in a story so deftly crafted that it offers both a probing look at Tunisian society’s anchored social and legal realities, and an unshakable need to ask yourself what you would do in the same situation. As their world falls apart, the subtleties of the couple’s shifting emotions are handled masterfully, heralding Mehdi Barsaoui as a bold new talent to watch.
Rock the Casbah
The patriarch in a family of 4 daughters dies suddenly, prompting a reunion between all his children, some of whom haven’t seen each other for a long time. In the midst of their mourning for him, secrets are revealed and traditions are upheld.
Capernaüm (“Chaos”) tells the story of Zain (Zain al-Rafeea), a Lebanese boy who sues his parents for the “crime” of giving him life. The film follows Zain as he journeys from gutsy, streetwise child to hardened 12-year-old “adult” fleeing his negligent parents, surviving through his wits on the streets, where he meets Ethiopian migrant worker Rahil, who provides him with shelter and food, as Zain takes care of her baby son Yonas in return. Zain later gets jailed for committing a violent crime, and finally seeks justice in a courtroom.
The Other (El Akhar)
Egyptian director Youssef Chahine exposes the links between power and fanaticism and denounces intolerance in this bitter portrait of the Egyptian business world, where unconditional drive for money rules. Adam (Hani Salama), the son of a rich businessman and his American wife, meets Hanane (Hanane Turk), a journalist of modest means at the airport on his return from his studies in the US. She is part of a campaign against a wealthy elite, which has thrived on plundering its own people. They fall in love and get married. Corruption is everywhere in the country and American interests are taking over the lucrative tourist trade. Adam’s rich parents and their friends in the government are at the heart of this corrupt system. Adam’s mother, Margaret (Nabila Ebeid), nourishes a strange affection for her son. She is possessive to the point of violence and is ready to get rid of Hanane, whom she considers her rival. Adam turns against the global economy of which his parents are the perfect examples as he sees through the greed of international speculators and the secret ties that bind them to fanatical fundamentalist sects. The fact that Hanane’s brother has become an Islamist terrorist does not help matters. The resistance that the couple has to put up makes them grow strong, for which they pay a heavy price. 52nd Cannes Film Festival, 1999.
Fan of Amoory
Fan of Amoory is a story about a brave talented boy; his idol the famous football player “Amoory”. The film follows the young boy as he goes through challenges and difficulties to achieve his dream to become a professional player and play in UAE national team. The film is directed by the producer of award-winning movie Going to Heaven and stars international Emirati actor Mansoor Al Fili and awards winner Jumaa Al Zaabi.
Earth is invaded by Aliens from outer space. An intermarried couple living in the city of Dubai are confined to their home due to the uncertainty of the situation. Disconnected from the world outside due to the loss of communication, they explore around their cultural differences in Science in order to understand the reason behind Aliens coming to our planet; only to find themselves caught between a series of extraterrestrial encounters at their very home.
Kinawi, a physically challenged peddler who makes his living selling newspapers in the central Cairo train station, is obsessed by Hannouma, an attractive young woman who sells drinks. While she treats Kinawi in a sympathetic way and jokes with him about a possible relationship, She is actually in love with Abu Sri’, a strong and respected porter at the station who is struggling to unionize his fellow workers to combat their boss’ exploitative and abusive treatment.
Bilal: A New Breed of Hero
A thousand years ago, one boy with a dream of becoming a great warrior is abducted with his sister and taken to a land far away from home. Thrown into a world where greed and injustice rule all, Bilal finds the courage to raise his voice and make a change. Inspired by true events, this is a story of a real hero who earned his remembrance in time and history.
Heaven Without People
Josephine, the matriarch of a sprawling family, is delighted to gather everyone for Easter lunch for the first time in two years. While they all share a joyful meal, an incident ignites underlying tensions between the family members and leads them gradually into chaos.
After having a good night together, the three friends (Dhabya, Khamis and Ghnome) are surprised by their strange situations the next day and do not remember anything that happened as the comedy and the stand-off escalate until they discover the big surprise.
Noha is about to get married. Her family is relieved to see her take advantage of this last chance before officially becoming a spinster just like her sister. Everything seems to be going well. However, on this special Sunday of August 1976 in Lebanon, on the same evening her elder brother is organizing a dinner in her honor 15 days prior to the wedding, Noha changes her mind.
An Egyptian Story
In the middle of his own heart surgery, an Egyptian filmmaker remembers his life. In fact his old self, as a child, is accused of attempted murder of his new self. Through the metaphoric trial, we are drawn into his life in relation with the Egyptian revolution, his constant need for success, and the effect the American Dream has on him.
Sofia, 20, lives with her parents in Casablanca. Following a denial of pregnancy, she finds herself illegally giving birth to a baby out of wedlock. The hospital leaves her 24h to provide the papers of the father of the child before alerting the authorities.
When the end is written even before everything begins, and Khaled’s future is in risk for a crime he didn’t do, An officer is set to bring him down.
A Lebanese boy gets separated from his family during the civil war and ends up in Sweden.
Beauty and the Dogs
During a student party, Mariam, a young Tunisian woman, meets the mysterious Youssef and leaves with him. A long night will begin, during which she’ll have to fight for her rights and her dignity. But how can Justice be made when it lies on the side of the tormentors?
Destiny (Al Massir)
The story is set in the 12th century in Arab-ruled Spanish province Andalusia, where famed philosopher Averroes is appointed grand judge by the caliph and his liberal court judgements are not liked by everyone. The caliph’s political rivals, centered around the leader of a fanatical Islamic sect, force the caliph to send Averroes into exile, but his ideas keep on living thanks to his students.
Ali and Alia
Ali and Alia are childhood neighbors that fell in love with each other, but bigger events occur in their lives which gets them separated. Ali seeks to maintain Alia’s heart even if it is through substance abuse.
The Emigrant (Al Mohager)
The biblical tale of Joseph is told from an Egyptian perspective in this interesting character study. In this film, Joseph is called Ram. Ram, tired of his family’s backward superstitious life, and tired of being picked on by his brothers, wants to go to Egypt to study agriculture. His brothers travel with him across Sinai, but then suddenly sell him to Ozir, an Egyptian who works for a Theban military leader, Amihar. Amihar is impressed by Ram’s drive and personal charm and so grants Ram some desolate land outside the capital. Ram soon finds himself a pawn in the political and sexual games between Amihar and his wife Simihit, a high priestess of the Cult of Amun.
The story of prophet “Muhammad” and the delivery of the message of God “Allah.”
On a bloody night in a place where we are supposed to feel safe, a young man and his beloved are struggling not to reach the hospital, but to run away from it. They are trying to survive the night.
Yasmin, a Tunisian journalism student, and her two male friends set out on a university assignment to solve the cold case of Mongia, a woman found mutilated 20 years ago, now imprisoned in an asylum and suspected of witchcraft. As they pursue their investigation, the three friends stumble into the archaic and ominous world of Dachra, an isolated countryside compound filled with goats, silent women, mysterious drying meat and steaming pots. They are welcomed to stay overnight by the jovial yet menacing cult leader, but when Yasmin discovers Dachra’s secrets, she must escape before she gets hurt.
A father and his estranged son must come together to hand deliver his daughter’s wedding invitations to each guest as per local Palestinian custom, in this rousing family drama from Annemarie Jacir (When I Saw You).
Summer Thefts (Sariqat Sayfeya)
The struggle of Aristocratic family after the political decisions taken in the 60’s era of Egypt. Yasser is the grandchild whose parents are getting a divorce due to this struggle. A journey inside the family and the major changes due to Moral and Political ideologies.
While being relentlessly attacked, a Man seeks to uncover a mystery and stop the unknown memories that are controlling him, only to learn the difference between reality and illusions.
Dark Waters (Siraa Fil Mina)
After three years of absence, back (Recep) after a long travel trip spent on the back of one of the ships in an effort to save money in order to complete his marriage b (benign), who lives with his mother in a shack built on the sea, but with the passage of days legged in the heart of (Recep) feelings of jealousy when he doubted the existence of a relationship between the pool (benign), and between (Mamdouh) son of the owner of the shipping company, which coincided with the existence of many problems between the owner of the company and its employees.
A film director named Masoud faces the negative changes that occurred in the Kuwaiti society, and tries to fight them through art.
Freej Al Taibeen
The film events take place during the ’80s or as what they call it nowadays “good people period”. The film’s story centers around a traditional game called “mait” which depended on physical strength and endurance. The film also highlights some popular events from the ’80s beautiful period like: the traditional games, the lilam salesman who strolled around the neighborhood and the old TV with poor reception.
Two brothers whose lives are torn apart by the murder of their father. Match follows the different paths taken by the brothers after the death and the consequences that come from their actions.
Lion of the Desert
In Fascist Italy pre-World War II, the cruel General Rodolfo Graziani is directly assigned by Benito Mussolini to fight in the colonial war in Libya to vanquish the Arab nation. However, his troops are frequently defeated by the national leader Omar Mukhtar and his army of Bedouins. But the Butcher of Ethiopia and Libya uses a dirty war against the natives, slaughtering women, children, and aged people, to subdue Mukhtar.
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The City (Al Medina)
A young Egyptian with acting ambitions leaves his country for France with dreams of becoming a movie star, much to the disgust of his father, who wants him to move to Saudi Arabia and get rich.
Noubi, an avowed communist from a wealthy family, sets out to find his half-brother Gamal after Gamal inherits his father’s fortune. In the process, Noubi is supposed to kill his stepmother Raifa, a supposed drug dealer, before she can kill Gamal.
The Message: The Story of Islam
In the 7th century, Mohammed, Peace Be Upon Him, is visited by Angel Gabriel who urges him to lead the people of Mecca and worship God. But they’re exiled in Medina before returning to Mecca to take up arms against their oppressors and liberate their city in the name of God (Allah).
“Yahia”, a young man living in the cosmopolitan Alexandria during World War II. Between his dreams, which up to Hollywood, and constraints of his life in the middle class, trying to be a new Hamlet with his uprising dreams wondering where all new meaning to life amid the horrors of war and life pain.
Saladin (El Naser Salah El Dine)
Saladin, ruler of the kingdoms surrounding the Latin state of Jerusalem, is brought to attack the Christians in the Holy Land by the sacking of a convoy of Muslim pilgrims, a group which included his sister. In a short campaign against odds, Jerusalem is taken and almost the entire Middle East is in Muslim hands. Crusade is called again in Europe, and the combined forces of the French king, German emperor, and English king form the 3rd Crusade, under the leadership of Richard the Lionheart of England. Although Accre is taken by the Crusaders, Saladin succeeds in preventing the recapture of Jerusalem, and in the end negotiations between himself and Richard (who Saladin admires as the only honorable leader) leave the Holy Land in Moslem hands.
When Yasser and his friends decide to spend the weekend at his grandfather’s beautiful farm, located in the middle of the desert, their hope for a good time is tarnished when their pleasant holiday turns into a war with the mysterious Jin that inhabits the farm.
Grandmothers Farm Part 2
After the mysterious events that occurred to 5 five friends on the farm (in part 1), they decided to go for a new adventure trip set off from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah in an mood of funny situations, but they face more frightening events that turned their journey from joy and fun to fear and horror.
The Land (Al Ard)
A small peasant village’s struggles against the careless inroads of the large local landowner, The Land shows why political oppression does not necessarily lead to a sense of solidarity among the disinherited.
Alexandria Again and Forever (Iskanderija, Kaman Oue Kaman)
During a hunger strike by Egyptian film industry, Yehia, famous Egyptian director, finds himself obsessed with Amir, the leading man in one of his movies and Nadia, a woman he desires to work with.
Gene Autry hunts bank robbers Al Bartlett and Trot Lucas with his old friend Mike. Bartlett, to throw off his pursuers, kills Trot and his own brother. When Kitty Bartlett comes to town claiming to be the slain Bartlett’s widow, Gene has to save her from the irate townspeople who are not aware that her name isn’t Bartlett but she really is the daughter of a law officer slain by Al Bartlett. Ben Luder, a local hood, tricks Bartlett back into town by saying he has to fixed to have Doc Larry Taylor do plastic surgery on him. En route they meet Doc and his assistant Helen Ellis and Ben’s ruse is exposed. Bartlett kills Ben and forces Doc to drive him to the railroad. Gene, in a fight atop a runaway train, captures Bartlett.
Return of the Prodigal Son (Awdet Al Ibn Al Dal)
The Khedive is torn between his younger son, the exemplary absent engineer, and his older son who became a tyrant in the village. The locals await the return of the son who was gone for 12 years , but he returns desperate, and works under his older brother’s supervision, which leads to a final confrontation.
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