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Here Are 10 Arabic Short Films You Must Watch

posted on: Nov 19, 2020


By: Dani Meyer/Arab America Contributing Writer

With streaming services on the rise, movies and TV shows are always available with just a few clicks. It’s easy to rewatch your old favorites—but maybe you’re looking for something new. This is a list of 10 groundbreaking Arabic short films that may be your answer to boredom.

As short films, they aren’t a big-time commitment, but still manage to pack in captivating storylines and breathtaking shots in their shorter time frame.

1. Five Boys and A Wheel

This multi-award-winning picture, which bagged the Silver Palm Award at the Mexico International Film Festival, comes from Palestinian filmmaker Said Zagha. Inspired by the American short story “Bicycles, Muscles, Cigarettes,” the plot follows a young father who has to get his son out of a petty conflict with the neighboring children involving a missing bicycle.

It is available to watch on OSN.

2. Karama Has No Walls

Karama Has No Walls (2013) is a documentary film by Sara Ishaq about the revolution in Yemen. It is a unique examination of the uprisings in Yemen told through the lenses of two cameramen and the accounts of two fathers. It recounts the story of the day that re-defined the Yemeni Revolution: March 18, 2011.

It is available to watch on YouTube.

3. Predicament In Sight


Predicament in Sight, directed by Faris Godus, is a science-fiction short set in the 1970s. The story follows the survivors of a plane crash in an isolated desert area who are forced to co-exist after multiple attempts to communicate with the outside world have failed.

It is available to watch on Netflix.

4. The White Helmets

The White Helmets (2016) follows three Syrian Civil Defence volunteers as they work in Aleppo and across Syria. The film also follows the three men, who are part of the same unit, as they train in Turkey. It won the Best Documentary (Short Subject) at the 89th Academy Awards.

It is available to watch on Netflix.

5. Ave Maria

Nominated for an Oscar for Best Live-Action Short Film, director Basil Khalil’s Ave Maria (2015) follows a group of nuns in a convent in the middle of the West Bank wilderness whose daily routine of silence and prayer is disrupted when a family of religious, Israeli settlers crashes their car into the convent’s wall.

It is available to watch on Vimeo.

6. Give Up The Ghost

Holding a mirror up to the social constraints experienced by women in the region, writer-director Zain Duraie tells the story of Salam, whose world shatters when she finds out that she’s unable to have children with her husband. This Jordanian film tells an important story and has been nominated for numerous awards.

It is available to watch on Vimeo and OSN.

7. Nocturne In Black

Having collected a whopping 11 award wins, including an Oscars shortlist spot, this heart-wrenching short written and directed by Jimmy Keyrouz follows a musician struggling to rebuild his piano after it’s destroyed by terrorists in a war-ravaged neighborhood.

It is available to watch on Vimeo, OSN, and Netflix.

8. Sandwiched


This short documentary by Yemeni human rights advocate and filmmaker Omar Al-Fotihi follows Brooklyn-based Abdulmotaleb, who lives two realities at the same time. On the surface, he’s the friendly neighborhood bodega-guy. He’s also a refugee from Yemen’s civil war whose wife and children are still stuck back home.

It is available to watch on Brooklyn on Demand.

9. Submarine

Director Mounia Akl racked up the wins for this short, set in the backdrop of the country’s garbage crisis. The story follows one strong-willed woman who refuses to be evacuated and holds on to what remains of her home.

It is available to watch on Vimeo

10. Pickup (2015)

In a rare entry from the Kingdom, director Saleh Nass tells the poignant tale of a schoolgirl who’s embarrassed to be seen with her dad’s dusty pick-up truck, resulting in a detour and a cherished moment between father and daughter.

It is available to watch on OSN.

These 10 short films from the Arab world are a great way to learn more about Arab filmmaking and culture and are also just a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Are there any other Arab short films you love? Let us know in the comments!

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