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5 Indie Films In Arabic You Need To See

By Maia Nikitina

Arabic films have been making a splash at international film festivals, with a total of 10 films in Arabic featured at the prestigious Cannes Film festival just in the last two years. Here’s our list of some of the best Arabic films you have got to watch:


1. Capernaum, 2018



Directed by Nadine Labaki, Capernaum won the Jury Prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and went on to receive critical acclaim and become the highest-grossing Arabic film ever. The Lebanese drama tells the story of a 12-year-old boy who sues his parents for negligence after serving a five-year sentence for a violent crime. Told through flashbacks, Capernaum was shortlisted for an Oscar and nominated for a Golden Globe. It is currently available on Amazon Prime.


2. Last Men in Alleppo, 2017



This cinéma-vérité documentary follows the White Helmets, a group of emergency response volunteers in Aleppo, as they attempt to save lives during military strikes. Directed by Feras Fayyad, the film was the winner of the World Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. You can watch it on Netflix.


West Beirut, 1998


via YouTube / Zuhdi Hajjaj


Considered to be one of the best Arabic films ever made, West Beirut follows the lives of three teenagers in Beirut during the Civil War in 1975. The film won several awards, including Best First Film at the Carthage Film Festival (1998) and the International Critic’s Award at the Toronto Film Festival. It was directed by the Lebanese filmmaker Ziad Doueiri.



The Day I Lost My Shadow, 2018


Telling the story of a single mother whose son goes out for gas and disappears in the countryside near war-ravaged Damascus, this Syrian film was directed by Soudade Kaadan and won the Lion of the Future award at the Venice Film Festival 2018. 

It Must Be Heaven, 2019


Palestinian film director Elia Suleiman explores the questions of home and identity in this absurdist comedy. The film was awarded the Cannes Special Jury Prize this year and is released in the UK at the London Film Festival in October 2019.