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The Blue Caftan directed by Maryam Touzani
The Blue Caftan directed by Maryam Touzani

The Blue Caftan directed by Maryam Touzani opens the 2022 Arab Film Festival running November 11-20, 2022 with a hybrid program of in-person in the San Francisco Bay Area, CA and virtual events.

In opening night film The Blue Caftan, Halim and Mina run a traditional caftan store in one of Morocco’s oldest medinas. In order to keep up with the commands of the demanding customers, they hire Youssef. The talented apprentice shows an utmost dedication in learning the art of embroidery and tailoring from Halim. Slowly Mina realizes how much her husband is moved by the presence of the young man.

The festival organized by the Arab Film and Media Institute will take place in-person throughout the San Francisco Bay Area at the Castro Theatre and Roxie Theater (San Francisco), the New Parkway Theater (Oakland) and a long awaited return to San Jose at 3Below Theaters.

Below is early information on Queer Lens and Animation Showcase.

Queer Lens

AFMI’s annual Queer Lens program celebrates the multi-dimensional formations of Arab queerness in stories that so urgently need to be told, especially in today’s polarized media climate that leaves issues of visibility lost in the haze, or, worse: cast in a one-size-fits-all “Western Queer Narrative” that ignores the many complexities and nuances faced by LGBTQ+ persons in the Arab World and beyond.

HABIB & THE THIEF dir. Naures Sager
Narrative Short – Sweden – 15 min
After being brought together by a stolen cape, Habib and his new love interest soon find themselves in a precarious situation, despite their attempts to play it safe. A look at the potential cost of being authentic and finding connection in a sometimes dangerous world.

THE WINDOW dir. Sarah Kaskas
Narrative Short – Lebanon – 15 min
A year after Beirut’s port explosion, Basma and Mariam reunite in their old bedroom. Surrounded by a view of the port’s remains, the two women attempt to resolve their shared trauma and broken relationship.

FARAWAY dir. Aziz Zoromba
Documentary Short – Canada – 18 min
After being estranged from his family for his homosexuality, we observe a young Arab man over four seasons and from far away as he navigates his solitude – all the while attempting to reconnect with his mother.

DRESS UP dir. Karina Dandashi
Narrative Short – United States – 11 min
On the eve of her sister’s wedding, Karina brings her “best friend” home to meet the family. When the groom-to-be joins them, she is reminded of her family’s expectations and her queer anxieties begin to unravel in a film that blurs the line between fiction and reality.

WARSHA dir. Dania Bdeir
Narrative Short – Lebanon – 15 min
Mohammad is a crane operator working in Beirut. One morning he volunteers to take on one of the tallest and notoriously most dangerous cranes in Lebanon. Away from everyone’s eyes, he is able to live out his secret passion and find freedom.

This program will be followed by a panel discussion entitled: Arab + Queer + Film: Between Here and There. Panelists include filmmakers of the Queer Lens shorts program, moderated by Raed Rafei, filmmaker and PhD candidate in Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Animation Showcase

THE OCEAN DUCK dir. Huda Razzak
Narrative Short – United States – 6 min
A woman visits her ailing grandmother in a hospital during a flood, bringing back fond memories of the past – spilling over into fantastical visions in the present – as an ancient tale comes to life.

YULUU dir. Fatima Kried
Documentary Short – United Kingdom – 2 min
Through a beautifully stripped back animation style, Yuluu looks back at the story of a young woman stranded in Beirut during the abrupt start of the 2006 war.

HAVE A NICE DOG dir. Jalal Maghout
Narrative Short – Germany – 13 min
Trapped in Damascus, surrounded by war, a lonely man becomes increasingly lost in his fantasies of fleeing and the inner dialogues with his dog.

NIGHT dir. Ahmad Saleh
Narrative Short – Palestine – 16 min
The dust of war keeps the eyes sleepless. Night brings peace and sleep to all the people in the broken town. Only the eyes of the mother of the missing child stay resilient. Night has to trick her into sleeping to save her soul.

REST IN PIECE dir. Antoine Antabi
Narrative Short – France – 10 min
Midyan decides to run away from his war-torn home. He packs his bag with objects that remind him of his loved ones and embarks on a journey into the unknown. Soon he is starving and resorts to eating the objects he has packed. The effects are monstrous yet they give him the strength to carry on through the scorching desert. Eventually, he arrives half-dead on the other shore of the sea and eats the most precious of his objects: a family portrait. This gives him the strength to finish his journey.

SHADOW OF THE BUTTERFLIES dir. Sofia El Khyari
Narrative Short – Morocco – 9 min
In a mysterious forest, a young woman’s emotions, memories, and desires intermingle with the delicate movements of the butterflies that surround her.

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