Over the past 20 years, Arab films have made significant strides in high production qualities and intelligent storytelling. The increase in regional funding and the co-production of European and Arab filmmakers evolved simultaneously with the geographic representation of festivals.
The distribution of films from various regions of the Arab world is no more a one-off; they now routinely appear in the selections at major festivals like Cannes, Berlin, Venice, and Toronto.
With dozens of films and shows releasing every week, every day on streaming platforms, we’ve taken up the arduous task of rounding up five movies that you must add to your watch list, which is perfect for the weekend.
From Meir, To Meir
Filmmaker Maggie Morgan goes to discover Meir, the village where her great-grandparents were born and the place her grandparents left but continued to love. When she goes, she finds a village people are trying to escape. From Meir To Meir is not Meir’s history but the lives, troubles, and traditions of those who still live in the small town, most of whom dream of leaving home in search of better opportunities abroad. The award-winning documentary is currently streaming on Netflix.
Six Windows In The Desert
Six Windows In The Desert is a play about the aftermath of a plane crash; this collection of six shorts from Saudi filmmakers depicts the nuances of Saudi Arabian culture. The film, available for streaming on Netflix, includes Meshal Al-Jasser’s Is Sumyati Going to Hell?, Ali Kalthami’s Wasati, Mohamed Al Salman’s 27th of Shaaban, Faris Godus’s Predicament in Sight, Faisal Al Amer’s The Rat, and Mohamed Al-Salman’s Curtain.
New Saudi Voices
Showcasing the breadth of Saudi filmmakers’ talent and creativity, New Saudi Voices is a collection of short films of various genres, such as horror, fantasy, and animation. Streaming on Netflix from 29 September, the collection of 11 movies, exhibited as New Saudi/New Cinema Shorts at the Red Sea Film Festival in 2021, represent some of the most exciting new voices in the kingdom.
Set against the backdrop of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, the plot revolves around women who are trapped and attempting to escape. Inspired by real events, Manal Khaled’s Trapped is composed of three stories set in those early years when people from all backgrounds were pushed together to fight for freedom and share their worries and dreams with strangers. The film is available on Netflix.
Hit the Road
Winner of London Film Fest’s best-film prize, Hit the Road, available on Amazon Prime Video, is a debut feature by Iranian Panah Panahi, son of the award-winning filmmaker Jafar Panahi. This crowd-pleasing road movie unfolds over a single day and follows a middle-class family of four as they bid farewell to their older brother, who has to leave the country for unknown reasons.