The 3rd edition of Middle East and North Africa Film Festival will take place in Vancouver November 19 to 26, 2021.

MENA is Vancouver's first festival dedicated to films from the MENA/SWANA region and it will be our second year presenting our films virtually. We are excited for the chance to continue showcasing stories and experiences from our local community, across Canada and the global diaspora.

We seek films of any genre, with particular emphasis on original and experimental portrayals of the MENA/SWANA region that challenge stereotypes and bend colonial visions of the region and its diaspora. We welcome submissions from emerging as well as established artists from wherever MENA identities are found and forged.

*We acknowledge that our festival is based off the unceded, ancestral and traditional and lands of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səlí̓lwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

COVID-19 Health and Safety: We plan to follow the latest health guidelines mandated by the BC Ministry of Health. We continue to prioritize our mission to champion MENA/SWANA filmmakers in Canada and bring films from and about the region to local audiences. While we maintain a flexible outlook regarding the format and venue of our festival in November, all decisions will be guided with the safety of our immediate community paramount. Whether it take place fully online as last year, feature some in-person component or rely on a hybrid model will be based on these immediate concerns.

(Given the global pandemic context, our festival had to pivot online for the 2020 edition. We will be maintaining online virtual screenings via Eventive but might pivot to a hybrid formula depending on the public health situation.)

AWARDS - as selected by an independent jury of industry and community

Scarlet Pomegranate Award - Recognizing overall artistry, storytelling, technical achievement and beauty.

Buraq Award - Recognizing films that break the mold, experiment and help us see the region and its experiences in a new light.

Audience Choice Award - Top rated film chosen by audiences through in-festival balloting.

- We consider no cultural or national identity rooted in the so-called Middle East as canonical. Whether as MENA, SWANA, WANA or any other delimiter of the region, we leave it in the hands of our prospective submitters how they identify with the region.

Keep in mind, however, that our programming strives to represent heterogeneous regional and sub-ethnic identities within the larger Middle East and North Africa that have often been amalgamated in official narratives of nation-state: be they aboriginal, nomad, sub-national linguistic groupings and other identities that don't fall neatly into any orientalist image of MENA/SWANA.

By the same token, we wish to champion immigrant narratives from ethnic and linguistic enclaves across the diaspora: pan-Arabic, West Asian and Persic, religious heterodoxy; as well as personal identities that interface with a post-modern politics: queer, post-colonial, anti-racist and indigenous selfhood.


This festival showcases:

- Feature films;
- Short films;
- Documentary;
- Experimental and multimedia.


- Works must have a significant (more than half) representation of MENA/SWANA-identifying people in key creative roles OR the subject matter must largely treat the the region/identity in some significant way (see above for what we mean by MENA/SWANA).

- Films in a language other than English must have English subtitles.

- All submissions, by established or emerging artists, are welcome and will be guaranteed two screenings during the adjudication process; films by artists 30 and under or who are "breaking into" the industry will be given particular consideration as part of our effort for NEW GENERATION filmmakers to reach a wider public.

- All genres are welcome, and experimental and original portrayals of the MENA/SWANA region are encouraged (see "VISION" above).

-----> May 28, 2021 UPDATE: Due to high demand and keeping in mind equal distribution, we are pausing distribution of the below SUBMISSION FEE WAIVERS until July 15 after the Regular Call for Submissions are announced.

-----> Please continue to send us requests in the meantime, and we will do our best to triage and assess need on a case-by-case basis to ensure fairness for all who may have financial difficulty due to the fee structure.

- As a non-profit, we do rely upon submission fees to help cover costs of reviewing and programming films. Keeping our commitment to young artists and community accessibility in-mind, however, we are providing a limited number of *20* fee waivers to filmmakers on a first-come, first-served basis. We will not be assessing the eligibility of each request, but we do expect that those asking for a waiver are being honest about their circumstance and are aware that receiving a waiver may deprive others of the same courtesy.
To request a waiver, please email **.


Yes, we pay every artist a screening fee in CAD as per 2021 CARFAC rates: as per A.1.9.1 Single screenings and audio presentations

Your short film cannot be more than 30 minutes in length, including credits. For feature, we accept up to 140 minutes, including credits.

All films presented for the 2021 edition must be from 2019 up to 2021.

No, we only accept submissions via FilmFreeway.

Yes, every single film submitted to the MENA Film Festival gets at least two separate viewings by MENA's programming committee.

Yes, but please make sure to mark the submission as a rough cut and let us know which elements are incomplete (music, sound mix, colour, missing scenes) and give us a firm deadline by which the final film will be completed (no less than 2 weeks before the event).

As a non-profit organization, we rely upon submission fees to help cover some of the costs of reviewing films. However, we are offering a limited number of submission waivers. To request a waiver, please email

Overall Rating
  • Daniel Jewel

    Fantastic Festival! I highly recommend it. Really friendly team who support the filmmakers they have selected. The live streaming events were really great and they had several Instagram Live's with different filmmakers and they really took the time to profile each individual filmmaking team. MENA has the goal to showcase Middle Eastern and North African themes in the movies they choose and all the MENA team showed a great cultural knowledge and sensitivity to the stories they want to shine a light on. Great Festival and Team! Highly recommended.

    December 2020
  • Meysam Motazedi

    An excellent festival put together by a passionate group of film lovers.
    I'll always look forward to attending with a new film.

    December 2020