Saudi and Emirati films will have their world premiere at the prestigious festival this year.
There’s no doubt that the Toronto International Film Festival is one of the most prestigious events in cinema. Filmmakers and movie lovers gather here to celebrate and explore new films — often introducing audiences to new talent as well. And this year’s TIFF lineup is off the charts. With captivating features from the Arab region, brace yourselves for world premieres of films hailing from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar.
Hajjan – Saudi Arabia
Abu Bakr Shawky — the Egyptian filmmaker behind the Cannes sensation Yomeddine — is back with a bang. His new film, Hajjan, follows Matar — a young man who becomes a camel jockey to avenge his brother’s death on the racetrack. This coming-of-age adventure that transports you into the world of Bedouin camel racing is set against the backdrop of Saudi Arabia’s picturesque Tabuk region, promising a tale of courage, determination and the unbreakable bond between man and beast.
Mandoob – Saudi Arabia
Directed by Ali Kalthami, Mandoob follows an overworked delivery app driver in Riyadh as he ventures into the world of bootlegging. The film dives into the complexities of Saudi society, shedding light on the challenges and aspirations of its young generation. Ali is also the co-founder of the pioneering Saudi production company Telfaz11. The filmmaker has seen several successes such as the Raven Song — the Kingdom’s submission to the Academy Awards, and Sattar — the highest-grossing Saudi film in history.
The Teacher – Qatar
Directed by Farah Nabulsi, a British-Palestinian filmmaker with an Oscar nomination and a BAFTA win under her belt, The Teacher takes viewers on a profound journey through a cruel reality. Set against the backdrop of a particularly pertinent time in Qatar, the film delves deep into the experiences of individuals enduring unrelenting challenges. The Teacher is a tear-jerker, bringing your emotions to the forefront through the power of storytelling.
Yellow Bus – UAE
Wendy Bednarz makes her feature film debut with Yellow Bus — a powerful tale that goes deep into the themes of motherhood, grief, and loss. Set in the UAE, the film follows a mother’s search for truth and accountability after her daughter tragically dies on a school bus. As the story unfolds, it touches upon universal emotions while shedding light on underrepresented issues within the Gulf culture.
As the excitement for TIFF builds and the red carpet is rolled out this September, Arab cinema is making its presence felt like never before. It’s a moment of pride and achievement as these films take their first steps onto the world stage and we can’t wait to be a part of it.
GO: Visit www.tiff.net for more information.