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) menafilmfestival.com
This festival showcases:
- Feature films (no more than 140 minutes);
- Short films (30 minutes or less);
- Documentary (short or feature length);
- 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;
*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: https://forms.gle/2rxWZcChfNS1hH2x7
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 email@example.com!
DO YOU PAY SCREENING FEES?
Yes, we pay every artist a screening fee in CAD as per 2023 CARFAC rates: https://carfac-raav.ca/2023-en/2023-en-1/ as per A.1.9 Media Arts Screenings and Presentations, depending on the format used to broadcast the films.
WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM RUNTIME MENA FILM FESTIVAL ACCEPTS?
Your short film cannot be more than 30 minutes in length, including credits. For features, we accept up to 140 minutes, including credits.
HOW OLD DOES THE FILM HAVE TO BE TO QUALIFY?
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.
CAN I EMAIL MY SUBMISSION?
No, we only accept submissions via FilmFreeway.
DO ALL SUBMISSIONS GET VIEWED?
Yes, every single film submitted to the MENA Film Festival gets at least two separate viewings by MENA's programming committee.
CAN I SUBMIT MORE THAN ONE ENTRY?
Yes, however, you will have to pay each individual submission.
DO YOU ACCEPT ROUGH CUTS?
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).
IF MY FILM IS ACCEPTED AND I LIVE OUTSIDE OF VANCOUVER, WILL THE FESTIVAL PAY FOR MY ACCOMODATION AND PLANE TICKET?
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).
DOES MENA ACCEPT SUBMISSION WAIVERS?
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.