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 27th edition of the Arab Film Festival are still pending due to local restrictions, but currently slated for November 10-19, 2023. 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 InFocus: Arab Cinema, in partnership with NewFilmmakers LA and the Academy of Motion Pictures.

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 2021 and 2023
2. All non-English language films must be subtitled in English
3. Fill out all project information 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 private and/or password protected links
6. Films must be from and/or about the Arab World and/or about Arab persons and/or created by an Arab.
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 October 6, 2023. 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
  • Sara Nacer

    Amazing festival led by a passionate team !

    November 2022
  • Houssam Hamo

    It was a great event !
    Thanks alot

    November 2022
  • It was such an honor to participate in 2021’s online section of AFMI’s Arab Film Festival with our short film “The Sailor.” The admissions and programming team did a fantastic job considering the potential technical difficulties of being partially online this year! They were incredibly organized and responded fast (which is very much appreciated in a pandemic year!). We also deeply appreciated the effort put into promoting individual films and filmmakers through their social media outlets. Thank you so much!

    December 2021
  • Hadi Moussally

    One of the best festival that i know in terms of selection & communication! Great work.

    December 2021
  • With so few Arab film festivals in the world, we are grateful for the support and enthusiasm of Yasmina and team. Thank you for inviting AL-SIT to be part of this excellent program! We only wish we could have been there in person.

    December 2021