16 Arab Films Confirmed for the 5th Edition of El Gouna Film Festival

Tue Sep 07, 2021


El Gouna, September 7, 2021: With a steadfast ambition of highlighting powerful works in Arab cinema and sharing them with its audience, El Gouna Film Festival is delighted to announce that 16 Arab films are confirmed in the lineup of the upcoming 5th edition of its annual festival.

The Sea Ahead

 Feature Narrative Competition/ Lebanon

Directed by: Ely Dagher

Chosen as the best project in development during the 3rd edition of CineGouna Platform, The Sea Ahead tells the story of a young woman who makes her way back to her parents’ house in the middle of the night, leaving a bad experience behind. Feeling cornered, her anxieties resurface, leading her to find solace in another part of the Beirut life she had forsaken.

Casablanca Beats

 Feature Narrative Competition/ Morocco

Directed by: Nabil Ayouch

Selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, Casablanca Beats tells the story of how former rapper Anas takes a job at a cultural centre in a working-class neighborhood in Casablanca. Encouraged by their new teacher, his students try to free themselves from the weight of restrictive traditions, in order to live their passions and express themselves through hip-hop.

Costa Brava
Feature Narrative Competition/ Lebanon

Directed by: Mounia Akl

Costa Brava tells the story of the free-spirited Badri family, who have escaped the toxic pollution of Beirut by seeking refuge in the utopic mountain home they have built. But unexpectedly, a garbage landfill is built right outside their fence, bringing the trash and corruption of a whole country to their doorstep. As the trash rises, so do tensions between leaving or resisting—threatening their idyllic home and family unity. The film had its world premiere at the 2021 Venice Film Festival.


 Feature Narrative Competition/ Egypt

Directed by: Omar El Zohairy

The 2021 Cannes Critics’ Week Grand Prix and FIPRESCI Award winner tells the story of Sami, an authoritative Egyptian father, who was turned into a chicken by a magician’s trick at his 6-year-old’s birthday party. The mysterious transformation sets his family off to a tragically funny adventure of self-discovery to survive without the patriarch.

Feature Narrative Competition/ Egypt, Jordan

Directed by: Mohamed Diab 

Starring Saba Mubarak, Ali Suleiman, and Tara Abboud, the film follows Amira, a bubbly 17-year-old who has grown-up believing she was conceived with the smuggled sperm of her imprisoned father. Her sense of identity is shattered when another attempt to conceive a child with her father’s smuggled sperm reveals he is infertile. The film had its world premiere at the 2021 Venice Film Festival.

The Blue Inmates
Feature Documentary Competition/ Lebanon

Directed by: Zeina Daccache

The film follows inmates from Roumieh Prison in Lebanon, who produce a play about fellow prisoners who suffer from mental illness and are thus filed under “mad and possessed” by the Penal Code and forgotten behind bars for life. The Blue Inmate won El Gouna Film Festival award at the 2020 Final Cut Workshop in Venice and participated in the 4th edition of the CineGouna Paltform.

Captains of Za’atari
Feature Documentary Competition/ Egypt

Directed by: Ali El Arabi 

Winner of three awards at the 2019 CineGouna Platform this documentary tells the story of  Mahmoud and Fawzi, who have been living in the Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan for five years. Despite their dire circumstances, they focus their energy on their first love⁠ — soccer. When Aspire Academy arrives at Za’atari to pick players for an international tournament, the two friends get the opportunity of their lifetime.

Back Home
Feature Documentary Competition/ Egypt

Directed by: Sara Shazli

Sara’s father is nearly 80 years old and is full of life. When Sara’s plans turn upside down due to the global pandemic, she finds herself stuck in her childhood home with her parents after living abroad for ten years. As they spend months together in lockdownSara feels the need to capture the precious moments spent with her father on film. For the first time, Sara’s return to Egypt feels right.

Nour Shams
Short Film Competition/ Saudi Arabia

Directed by: Faiza Ambah

Shams, an Uber driver in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is a single mother with two obsessions: her only child, Makki, and her African desserts. Shams also struggles to convince Makki to follow the traditional path of marriage and to show some interest in her desserts. When Makki enters a hip-hop competition, Shams comes face-to-face with the possibility of being separated from him, her vision of their future is turned upside down. Nour Shams participated in the Palm Springs International ShortFest 2021.

Short Film Competition/ Jordan, Palestine

Directed by: Ahmad Saleh

Premiering at the Pardi di domani competition at the 2021 Locarno Film Festival, Night is a story about how the dust of war keeps the eyes sleepless and how night can bring peace and sleep to all the people in the broken town. Only the eyes of a mother of a missing child stay anxious and awake, so the night has to trick her into sleeping to save her soul.

Short Film Competition/ Jordan

Directed by: Samer Battikhi

During a normal day at a shopping square in Amman, Sami, a 15-year-old spoiled naive kid, and the street-smart hustler Mahmoud, a 15-year-old corn seller, are ready to execute their plan to steal an unexpected gift that will impress Sami’s girlfriend. But they are unaware of the unexpected twists and turns that are about to come their way.

A Dike
Short Film Competition/ Tunisia

Directed by: Bilel Bali

A young girl works in a bar. One evening, arriving late for her work, she cannot escape the growl of her boss, who threatens to fire her, nor the harassment of her homosexual colleague. When she gets home, she comes face to face with tragedy.

Short Film Competition/ United States, Lebanon

Directed by: Darine Hotait

On the day of her release from a psychiatric facility, Mira returns to her mother’s home in Brooklyn for her grandmother’s birthday, only to discover that her sister has told the family that she has been on a trip to Florida. Tallahassee is the portrayal of a young woman’s re-entry into the world, a meditation on the enormous task of life after grief. Framed in the context of diaspora, Tallahassee provides a glimpse into the struggles of mental illness, an issue often silenced and pathologized in Arab culture.

Short Film Competition/ Egypt

Directed by: Morad Mostafa

Khadiga,  a young mother living alone with her baby, after her husband  left to work in a remote city. On an ordinary day, she goes through the streets of Cairo to make a few visits where she feels uncomfortable with the surroundings.

Short Film Competition/ Egypt

Directed by: Ahmed Abd El Salam

After numerous failed attempts to escape the status quo of her generation’s depression, Nour, 29, secretly arranges to flee her homeland. Hours before her departure, she embarks on a journey of struggles with a patriarchal society and a fight within to keep her hidden secret.

Full Moon
Official Selection out of Competition/ Egypt

Directed by: Hadi El Bagoury

Starring an ensemble cast including Khaled El Nabawy, Shereen Reda, Ghada Adel, Ahmed El Fishawy, Yasmin Raeis, Ahmed Malek, Ahmed Hatem, Asmaa Abulyazeid, May El Ghety and Khaled Anwar; the film takes place on a lunar night where the societal beliefs that kill love are unveiled through five different love stories.

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