The MENA Film Festival is celebrating its milestone fifth edition this November in Vancouver, Canada and we want you to be a part! For the past four years, MENA has been Vancouver's first and only festival dedicated to films from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) / South West Asia and North Africa (SWANA) region.

We are excited for the chance to continue showcasing stories and experiences from our local community, across Canada and the global diaspora.

*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.


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.

** COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan 2022: As long as the global pandemic stays with us, we continue to follow the latest health guidelines.. While we maintain a flexible outlook regarding the format and venue of our festival in November, our decision to provide an in-person, hybrid or fully digital platform will be based entirely on the latest community health and safety recommendations as set forth by provincial and federal health bodies and informed with the safety of our immediate community paramount.


We welcome all genres and all themes with a special attention to those films addressing our relationship to land and climate change, as well as genres our region is reclaiming, such as horror, sci-fi and fantasy.

This year, we also accept children’s films in the hopes of showcasing a kids screening.

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 mould, 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.

Azure Phoenix - Recognizing an individual contributor-whether writer, actor, director etc.-that represents MENA/SWANA identity across the region and its diaspora amongst the year’s programming.

* When your film is selected, it is automatically eligible for awards.

- We consider no cultural or national identity rooted in the so-called Middle East as canonical. Whether as MENA, SWANA, West Asian and North African (WANA) or any other delimiter of the region, we leave it in the hands of our prospective submitters how they identify with the region. Our programming strives to represent all communities within the region, including those marginalized by ethnicity, language, or religion: be they aboriginal, nomad, stateless linguistic groupings and other identities that don't fall neatly into any orientalist image of MENA/SWANA.
We also seek immigrant narratives from ethnic and linguistic enclaves across the diaspora: pan-Arabic, West Asian, religiously heterodox, as well as personal identities that interface with a postmodern politics: queer, post-colonial, anti-racist and Indigenous selfhood.
We do not accept films with misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, zionist, nationalist or racist content.

If you have any questions or want to know if your film qualifies, please contact sarah.trad (at)


This festival showcases:

- Feature films (no more than 140 minutes);
- Short films (30 minutes or less);
- Documentary (short or feature length);
- Experimental.


- 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 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.

- Due to our capacity, we only accept single-channel films (ie. no art installation, etc.)

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

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

- If your film is selected for the 2023 MENA Film Festival, you must submit a DCP file and a ProRes 422 Quicktime backup file. Files must be delivered on an external hard drive, USB flash drive or sent digitally (WeTransfer, Dropbox or Google Drive), and be received no later than September 1, 2023.

- If your film is selected, in addition to the DCP file, the following material is required for promotional use by Friday, August 4th, 2023.
* Minimum of 2 film stills;
*Film poster;
*A trailer (format: mp4 HD 1920 x 1080);
*A logline (one sentence) and a short film description (100 words);
*Director’s photo and short bio.

-If you fail to submit all the material by the deadline, your film will be disqualified from screening.

- In the event of an online festival, you agree to have your film screened virtually Canada-wide on our online festival platform.

- 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. While we do not delve into the personal circumstances of each request, we may ask follow-up questions, and we 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 opportunity.

To request a waiver, please fill our form:

We will be considering waiver requests and provide a response by February 10th and again on March 24th. If you have any questions about waiver eligibility, email us at!



Yes, we pay every artist a screening fee in CAD as per 2023 CARFAC rates: as per A.1.9 Media Arts Screenings and Presentations, depending on the format used to broadcast the films.


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


All films presented for the 2023 edition must have been completed by January 1st, 2021. However, films completed after January 1st, 2022 will be prioritized.


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, however, you will have to pay each individual submission.


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 4 weeks before the event).


While we are excited to personally host our filmmakers visiting from out of town, as a non-profit organization, unfortunately we are currently unable to provide individual contributors’ travel expenses. However, we offer a screening fee for each accepted submission (see above).


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 see above.

Overall Rating
  • Sara Bahramjahan

    Thank you for amazing festival, I so glad to Childfree is part of Mena film festival.

    December 2022
  • Very grateful and happy to have been a part of MENA. Let me just say, one of the qualities that stood out to me was the genuine kindness of Arman, Anaïs and Mahtab and their communication with us, such an excellent opportunity to showcase my work. Ran by great people. The screening quality was very high, and the films chosen were all wonderful. Loved it! I highly recommend applying to this fest.

    January 2022
  • Mehdi Sahebdel

    You can experience a good feeling at a regular and really professional festival by submitting your films to MENA film festival. Its team is a unique one which held an outstanding festival.

    December 2021
  • The MENA Film Festival is absolutely one of the best festivals for Arab and Middle-Eastern (and diaspora) filmmakers out there! The programming team is dedicated, passionate, inclusive, and extraordinarily helpful and communicative. They are doing such important work and doing it well! We had the pleasure of attending in-person and it was such an honor to see our short film “The Sailor” on the big screen and participate in the filmmakers roundtable! If you have a film that deals with the Middle East or are from the region this is where you want to be. The 2021 edition was at the VIFF Centre which was an incredible bonus! Thank you, MENA team!

    December 2021
  • Thank you Arman, Anais, Anika, Mahtab and amazing team at MENA. It was a complete pleasure and honour to be part of your film festival this year with Roads of Ithriyah - thank you for giving my feature a world-class premiere! The VIFF Centre was an absolutely perfect location to celebrate so many excellent national and international films by filmmakers from the MENA/SWANA region who have poured everything into their beautiful movies. It was truly wonderful to be able to network (effortlessly, I might add) with such established filmmakers in person and online. And the festival attendance was phenomenal! Thanks in large part I'm sure to your outstanding community outreach, smart marketing, and incredible programming. Thank you again for getting us started on a very high note towards our oncoming festival tour. Shayan, Jay, Panta, myself and the rest of our team are very grateful, and will make sure to tell everyone about your amazing gem of a festival. We are lucky to have you. Shukran! Gracias! Merci!

    December 2021