Spotlight on Arab Cinema: Top Picks at Toronto Arab Film Festival 2024

Bridging two worlds is an annual event that graces the city of Toronto. Known as the Toronto Arab Film Festival (TAFF), Arab films made by Arab filmmakers get to be placed in the global spotlight for the world to see.

Now, with its 5th edition underway this year, a new roster of Arab films is hitting the screens. With the screenings taking place till June 30, let us take a look at our very own hand-picked recommendations:

Feature Films

Six Feet Under (Screening June 28)

Placing an important light on immigrant life and identity, the Algerian film directed by Karim Bensalah is about Sofiane, the son of a former Algerian diplomat.

Let’s just say that Sofiane isn’t particularly interested in his Arab heritage, rather he avoids it at all costs by speaking English and asking everyone to call him Sof.


Things take a turn, though, when his life abroad is put at risk when his school revokes his visa. That is when things get interesting, as he ends up working in a French Muslim funeral parlor, a situation that forces him to confront his roots.

This film will be relatable to many third-culture kids (kids raised in a culture different from their parents) and Arabs born and raised abroad.

A Toi Jeddi (Screening June 29)

Diving once again into identity, lineage, and heritage, A Toi Jeddi is a film all about a young girl tapping into her paternal origins. She ends up finding her Libyan grandfather’s memoirs and, from there, dives into his life and her family’s history.

Via IMDb

This Libyan film is a journey of discovery, putting together the pieces to find out one’s identity. It is a film for the introspective bunch who like to explore their roots and identity.

The Tedious Tour Of Mr M (Screening June 29)

Along with exploring roots and identity, some films also tap into the Arab world’s culture and literature. Among Egypt’s rich plethora of distinguished writers is Mohamed Hafez Ragab, one of the most renowned writers in the modern history of Egyptian literature.

Via YouTube

Diving deep into Ragab’s world, filmmaker Hend Bakr dives into Ragab’s solitude to uncover the reason behind his radical decision to self-isolate for 30 years, abandoning his writing career. Lovers of literature and biographies, this is a great film to check out during the festival.

Mandoob (Screening June 30)

Breaking the mold is the Saudi thriller “Mandoob,” which is about Fahad, a man who gets fired from a call center only to become a bootleg alcohol dealer. In Ali Kalthami’s dark feature debut, we get front-row seats into the rarely-seen ultramodern world of Saudi nightlife.

If you are into thrillers and want to explore an untapped facet of Saudi life, then you can attend the screening of this film on June 30th at Innis Town Hall.


A Beautiful Excuse For A Deadly Sin (Screening June 27)

In just 15 minutes, we take a ride on this Bahraini flick, a film that acts as an allegory on how conflicts arise. It is about a young man who insists on taking a horse up to his flat, where he lives, despite facing backlash.

Ahmed (Screening June 27)

Placing yet another light on immigrant life and identity is the Palestinian-Canadian director Rame Ibrahim’s short film Ahmed. Two immigrant parents end up going to their son’s school because of his misbehavior, only to find out that the school is inviting them to talk about their journey from their home countries.

Each of these films dives into the Arab world and its complexities, exploring issues with identity, culture, and maintaining roots. To keep tabs on the festival and all its dates, you can check out the full schedule.

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