Opening this past weekend the 5th Annual MENA Film Festival highlights the culture and experience of MENA creatives.
Taking place in Vancouver the festival features over 150 submissions including 5 features and 37 shorts. The event runs from 27 January to 1 February. The MENA Festival has an aim of highlighting “the commonalities in our histories rather than the differences that keep us apart”. In person screenings take place at VIFF Centre’s Vancity and Studio Theatres.
The founders saw a gap amongst the diverse stories told across Canada’s strong festival offering. They provide opportunities for artists who are part of the community especially those starting out to express themselves.
There are a number of screenings and workshops as well as digital screenings taking place. More information on these is available here on the website.
The Mena Film Festival established in 2019 seeks to highlight members of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) – otherwise known as Southwest Asia and North Africa (SWANA).
You can take a look at the films and features here.
Amr Gamal’s The Burdened (2023) draws inspiration from a true story. It portrays the challenges and hardships since the onset of civil war in 2015. Expecting their fourth child, Isra’a (Abeer Mohammed) and Ahmed (Khaled Hamdan) are faced with an impossible decision. They are stuck between insufficient resources for a growing family and the societal stigma around seeking an abortion.
Documentary Three Promises from Palestinian Yousef Srouji uses his mother’s video diaries of their family’s experiences during Israel’s retaliation against the Second Intifada in the West Bank in the early 2000s. It is a heart-breaking portrait of the anguish of parents, forced to choose between their children’s physical safety and the emotional upheaval of leaving home.
Each year, a MENA-identifying artist provides the event’s posters and accompanying visuals.
Marwan Shahin from Shahin Studios in Los Angles designed the 2024 artwork. Drawing upon inspiration from Henri Matisse’s “The Dance” (1909–10), Shahin said his “Melting Pot” weaves together themes of “peace, diversity, identity, and fluidity.”