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All the Arab Representation to Root for at the Toronto International Film Festival 2023

Kinda Alloush. Photo: Amina Zaher

With Hollywood facing the SAG-AFTRA strike, many of the world’s major film festivals will look a lot different this year as movies get pulled out of the lineup. However, as always, Arab representation remains unaffected and calls for more support than ever with the forthcoming Toronto International Film Festival’s roster featuring a number of names from the region.

Among the films having their world premiere at the festival’s 80th edition is Yellow Bus starring Syrian actor Kinda Alloush. Showing under the Discovery Program category, the film is backed by streaming giant OSN, and made by New York University Abu Dhabi media tutor and writer-director Wendy Bednarz who shot it around the UAE. It tells the tragic story of a young girl who dies from heat exhaustion after falling asleep inside a school bus and getting left behind and everything her mother goes through after her death.


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A post shared by Abu Bakr Shawky – أبوبكر شوقي (@abshawky)

Also premiering under the same category is Egyptian director Abu Bakr Shawky’s Hajjan, which was mainly shot in Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk region. TIFF describes the film as a “renegade, mythic coming-of-age adventure from director Abu Bakr Shawky set in the legendary, high-stakes world of Bedouin camel racing.” Other films in the lineup include Palestinian filmmaker Farah Nabulsi’s The Teacher, Mandoob by Saudi director Ali Kalthami, Achilles by Iranian filmmaker Farhad Delaram, Naga by Saudi filmmaker Meshal Aljaser.


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A post shared by Meshal Al Jaser (@meshalaljaser)

What’s more, Lebanese actor, director, and writer Nadine Labaki will also be leading the Platform jury of the festival alongside renowned names like Barry Jenkins and Anthony Shim. According to TIFF, “Since its introduction in 2015, Platform has celebrated and showcased films with unique directorial perspectives.” The section is the festival’s “competitive program that champions bold directorial visions.”

This year’s TIFF will open with Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron, and will take place from September 7-17.

Read Next: Zendaya’s Challengers Will No Longer Open the 80th Venice Film Festival Impacted By the Sag-Aftra Strike

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