Stories By Female Filmmakers From The Arab World To See At This Year’s Festival

19 September 2018

The emergence of female filmmakers from the Arab world is one of the most exciting developments in contemporary cinema, and Adelaide Film Festival is thrilled to present these films by women with strong voices and sharp perspectives.


Humanitarian activist and filmmaker Widad Shafokoj (If You Meant to Kill Me) adds to her impressive resume with this marvellous film about the transformative power of sport. In 2016 Jordan hosted the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup. Shafokoj captures the passion and determination of the Jordanian team as they prepare to take their place in the first-ever FIFA tournament held in an Arab country. Coming from different backgrounds, each of the girls has faced a different set of challenges while pursuing their dreams in a game they once thought was only for men. But men have also made a positive difference here. Without her father’s defiance of friends, family, teachers and officials Leen’s amazing talent would likely never have been given the chance to shine. Now they come together to face their biggest challenge. Will Anoud be slected in the final squad? Is Leen ready to take her place with so little preparation time? Can their British coach (and ex-Brentford defender) Robbie Johnson inspire the team to victory? A hit in Jordanian cinemas, 17 is packed with positive girl-power messages, great humour and exciting footage of these spirited young women competing on the world stage. It’s a beautiful film about the beautiful game. Play on!

Saturday 13 October, 6:45pm, Mercury Cinema. Tickets.
Sunday 21 October, 12pm, Mercury Cinema. Tickets.


It is rare to find films so richly awarded as this. Annemarie Jacir has crafted a beautifully simple and delightfully humorous tale about a father and son who spend the day driving around the Palestinian town of Nazareth hand-delivering wedding invitations. Abu Shaadi is a schoolteacher and pragmatist who has learned to live with the frustrations of occupation, and who understands that life is a test of resilience. His son, Sahdi, has been living in Rome and rages against the injustice and ineptitude he sees everywhere. Join them for a day of criss-crossing the city in their battered old Volvo. It’s a day of encounters and debates, where generations butt heads and the bonds of family and community will be tested. Saleh Bakri and his real-life son Mohammad are great company in Jacir’s wise and witty winner.

Sunday 14 October, 4pm, Mercury Cinema. Tickets.
Thursday 18 October, 6pm, Mercury Cinema. Tickets.


Every day in Morocco 150 women give birth outside wedlock. Under Moroccan law non-marital sex as a crime punishable by imprisonment. Sofia, a young woman from a middle-class family in Casablanca, finds herself in this predicament, even though she is in denial over the pregnancy. The hospital gives her 24 hours to provide the identification papers of the child’s father before informing the authorities. What follows is part social thriller, part social provocation as Sofia and her pragmatic cousin Lena try to hammer out a deal involving family, honour and most importantly, social status. This naturalist drama won Best Screenplay in the prestigious Un Certain Regard section of Cannes.

Sunday 14 October, 12:15pm, Mercury Cinema. Tickets.
Friday 19 October, 5:45pm, Mercury Cinema. Tickets.


Zain, a 12-year-old boy scrambling to survive on the streets of Beirut, sues his parents for having brought him into such an unjust world, where being a refugee with no documents means that your rights can easily be denied. Most of the performers in this Cannes prize-winner are refugees from Africa and the Middle East that play out lightly fictionalised versions of their own experiences. Zain Alrafeea has an extraordinary presence as a street-wise kid who suddenly finds himself caring for a baby. This is the stuff of strong moral outrage, directed with great naturalism by Nadine Labaki, whose Caramel and Where Do We Go Now? established her as a filmmaker with a powerfully resonant voice.

Saturday 13 October, 4:15pm, Mercury Cinema. Tickets.
Sunday 21 October, 4pm, Mercury Cinema. Tickets.

The Cinematic World of Arab Women: Past + Present (Panel)

From the early days of cinema to the flourishing film industries of today, Arab women have shaped Arab screen culture as directors, writers, actors and producers, figuring luminously as subjects and objects of our collective gaze.

The 2018 Adelaide Film Festival, in collaboration with Arab Film Festival Australia, is proud to present a panel discussion exploring the past and contemporary cinematic world of Arab women. Join 17 director Widad Shafakoj alongside Arab Film Festival Australia Committee members Dr. Mehal Krayem and Dr. Paula Abood for this special event.

Sunday 14 October, 2:15pm, Mercury Cinema. Register.

The above screenings and panel are supported by the Australian Government through the Council for Australian-Arab relations Institute of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Want to see more films like this? Check out the Palestinian Film Festival’s program!