The flagship event of the Arab Film and Media Institute, the Arab Film Festival is the longest running independent festival of its kind in North America. Launched in 1996, the festival’s mission is to present the best of contemporary films that illuminate the richness of Arab culture through authentic narratives and images, providing insight into the beauty and complexity of the Arab world.

The festival also offers special programming to local audiences, and unprecedented access to the diversity and range of authentic Arab experiences. The festival has gained an international reputation for excellence and offers its audiences access to media that reflects the lives of under-represented and provocative themes and groups on a cultural and societal level.

Dates for the 25th anniversary edition of the Arab Film Festival are still pending due to local restrictions, but will be sometime between October and December, 2021. We expect a hybrid model of limited in-person screenings in San Francisco and Los Angeles, with virtual offerings available nationally.

*** Submissions will also qualify for the Arab Film Fest Collab as well as InFocus: Arab Cinema ***

We can’t wait to watch your films!

The Arab Film Awards* celebrate filmmakers whose original works are distinguished in their respective categories. A pre-screening committee will select four finalists in each category after reviewing all films in the official selection (all films in the official selection are considered "in competition"). A jury made up of important members of the film and academic communities will select the outstanding works from the shortlist and bestow the Award Of Recognition to directors in the following categories:

-Best Narrative Feature
-Best Documentary Feature
-Best Short Film
-Best Debut Feature
-Audience Award

General submission guidelines
1. Films must have been produced between 2019 and 2021
2. All non-English language films must be subtitled in English
3. Fill out the submission form on FilmFreeway (incomplete entries will not be considered)
4. All categories of film are accepted: feature, short format, narrative, documentary, hybrid, experimental, animation, etc.
5. Insert screeners on the FilmFreeway submission form via password protected links
6. Films must be from and/or about the Arab World and/or about Arab persons living in the Arab World or abroad
7. Rough cuts or works-in-progress are accepted and reviewed by the programming committee; however, filmmakers are urged to submit as close to the final cut as possible

After you submit your film
Entrants will be notified of the Festival’s decision on or before September 3, 2021. In the event of acceptance, entrants will receive an official welcome letter verifying selection status.

Submission fees (all fees can be paid via FilmFreeway)
Features: $10
Shorts: $10
Late features: $40
Late shorts: $25

*** No one ever is turned away for lack of funds at our organization, for screenings as well as film submissions. If you'd like a fee waiver, please email three key words that describe your film to, and we'll send you a waiver code ***

Overall Rating
  • Farah Nabulsi

    Loved! and thank you for pivoting online this year.

    December 2020
  • Fatima Matousse

    It was just AMAZING, WONDERFUL, and very INSPIRING.

    November 2018
  • Vikram Ahluwalia

    Very happy that our film was chosen for this important festival and its wonderful selection of films. Thank you!

    January 2018
  • Muna Khalidi

    We attended AFF 2017 in San Francisco to screen "Stitching Palestine" and it was a wonderful experience altogether. There was full attendance, the theatre was beautiful, and the audience was very engaged n the film and the discussion.
    The AFF team were warm and hospitable and extremely helpful. A great festival showcasing films from and about the Arab world.

    November 2017
  • Talal Al-Muhanna

    Though I didn't have the chance to attend, the festival team happily arranged for comp tickets for attending friends & filmmakers, much appreciated!

    November 2017