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Halal Love

The 13th Arab Film Festival Australia will screen a diverse range of films from around the Arab world, presenting viewers with seven features and five short film in selected cities.

The festival kicks off in Sydney (July 21–24), moving through Melbourne (July 29-31), Canberra (August 5–7) and finishing with a brand new screening location, Perth (August 11-12).

A screening of Halal Love, directed by Assad Fouladkar, will launch the festival on Thursday July 21. Halal Love is a warming and witty film capturing the humor in faith and relationships. The story cleverly intertwines three different love stories, as devout Lebanese Muslims try to pursue love and happiness without breaking religious rule.

Other films featuring at this year’s festival include highly anticipated Bennesbeh Labokra, Chou?. Directed by Ziad Rahbani, the theatre classic is comprised of original footage once thought lost from 1978 and restored for today’s screen. The cult-comedy features scores loved throughout every house in Lebanon and is sure to be a sell-out.

El Clasico
El Clasico

Directed by Halkawt Mustafa, El Clasico is another traditional love story with a modern twist. A Kurdish dwarf believes presenting soccer player Christian Renaldo with a pair of handmade shoes will earn him respect and the blessings from the father of his would be bride. Filled with uniquely abstract characters, El Clasico is a road movie of self-discovery and adventure, showing how love and hope transcend boundaries and boarders.


Directed by Hala Khalil, the film Nawara is an exploration of class war and social structures in Eygpt. The film follows Nawara, who crosses the divide between the lower class and upper in her daily life as a housekeeper, juxtaposing the opulence of her employers with the realities of her own home life.

Waiting for the Fall is the first time a feature drama from Syria has screened in Australia. The gripping film explores how members of a small, war-torn town in Syria endeavour to maintain normality. Directed by Joud Saeed, the story follows the township’s interest in a local women’s volleyball final, while rumours of an impending air strike rage and a local photographer is taken prisoner by rebels.

Roshmia, directed by Salim Abu Jabal is both heart-warming and wrenching as elderly couple Yousef and Amna fight the Israeli authorities to keep the ramshackle shack that’s been their home since 1965. Both films depict a more serious side of life in war-torn nations, but highlight the importance of human connection and spirit when everything else is out of one’s control.

Home, a short film from Australian Director Shahin Alanezi, follows the story of an Iraqi refugee who struggles with accepting her son embracing Australian culture over her own traditions.

Barakah Meets Barakah
Barakah Meets Barakah

Finally, the newest location for the Arab Film Festival, Perth will receive a special screening of Barakah Meets Barakah not shown at any of the other AFFA screening cities. The film explores the implications modern technology has on traditional love. Directed by Mahmoud Sabbagh, the story details the unlikely coupling of an erratic, ultra-famous Instagram video blogger and improbable municipal agent, and the challenges of dating in Saudi Arabia.

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