While there has been a surge in Arab film festivals recently - from Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Red Sea Film Festival to the more country-specific festivals like Dubai International Film Festival - these festivals are often contained to their countries of origin, inviting people over, but rarely going to - Western - countries where there is a deep lack of awareness of Arab cinema and celebrating that rich repertoire of films in a foreign space. 

Toronto Arab Film, a Toronto-based non-profit organisation bringing films from the Arab world to the city’s audiences, has been hosting screenings of Arab films to the city’s audiences for 2 years, and will now be inaugurating the country’s first pan-Arab Toronto Film Festival.

The inaugural Toronto Arab Film Festival will take place from April 23-26 at Toronto’s Innis Town Hall Theatre.

The festival will screen two feature films - Noura’s Dream, which stars Tunisian actress Hend Sabry and Sudanese film Talking about Trees - next to multiple shorts programmes, Q&As, talks, and workshops.

Recognising the importance of networking to filmmakers, TAF’s vision for the festival is to provide a platform where Arab filmmakers can engage with one another and find opportunities to expand their work. As the website also adds, the festival aims to ignite an “intellectual and cultural dialogue and emphasize the values of cultural diversity and tolerance that characterize [Toronto].”

TAF was co-founded by Mason Hatahet and Rolla Tahrir in 2018, and has since been a hub for Arab films in the heavily Arab-populated Canadian city, which also recently saw its very first Arab youth conference.

You can find out more about the festival here.