Bringing together regional and international stories of crawlers, extraterrestrials, and satirical horrors, the Maskoon Fantastic Film Festival is kicking off its 4th edition online and for free starting today, June 10th until the 16th.

The festival is the only film event focused solely on Arab genre film, such as sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. Originally meant to be held at the end of 2019, the Beirut-based festival was postponed due to protests in Lebanon, and then later postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak. Now the festival has taken its entire slate of film screenings and events online. 

Read our in-depth look at the landscape of Arab science fiction here.

The fantastical extravaganza includes feature-length and short films from three award-winning regional filmmakers: Palestinian visual artist and filmmaker Larissa Sansour, Moroccan comics artist and director Hicham Lasri, and Lebanese writer-director Ghassan Salhab. In addition to Arab works, Maskoon’s selection also features works from acclaimed international directors such as Gaspar Noé, Alexandre Phillipe, and Quentin Dupieux.

Alongside the slew of film screenings, the festival’s debuting its production arm, Maskoon Fantastic Lab to also go digital with mentoring sessions for five selected projects by budding Arab filmmakers. The sessions will be led by a jury made of regional and International industry experts, and one project will be chosen to be featured in 2021’s Frontières, an internationally renowned initiative aimed at supporting genre film professionals held at Fantasia International Film Festival in partnership with Cannes Film Festival.

“As reality has surpassed fiction, entertainment and culture helped people maintain their sanity and hold on to each other, keeping human connections ongoing,” reads the event’s announcement. “Maskoon aims to contribute to this movement and provide a free and safe environment to watch films, attend debates with filmmakers, help develop new skills and new projects. We hope that we can help you forget for a brief moment your worries and the gloom that has struck Lebanon and the world.” 

The festival begins today, June 10th, and will run until the 16th. You can watch the entire program for free on Spamflix, and catch a parallel Arab Genre program on Aflamuna.

Horizontal main image from So What If the Goats Die by Sofia Alaoui.