SAFAR 2022: The Stories We Tell in Arab Cinema


The SAFAR Film Festival is the only festival in the UK dedicated to cinema from the Arab world.

The 2022 edition was an important milestone for the festival. SAFAR celebrated its 10 year anniversary, became an annual programme and, for the first time, expanded to screen in 7 other UK cities alongside its flagship London festival. The festival also underwent a full visual rebrand and launched its first mentoring scheme, 

Curated by Rabih El-Khoury, this year’s theme, The Stories We Tell in Arab Cinema, invited audiences to go back to the very essence of filmmaking: storytelling. Featuring UK premieres, new releases and classics, the film selection explored the devices used by Arab filmmakers to push cinematic boundaries, reclaim overlooked histories, and presented new perspectives to audiences both at home and abroad. It saw controversial characters run amok and experimentations in form blend the traditional with the radical. Period pieces brought colonial traumas to the global stage and social issues were inspected through surreal and fantastical lenses.  

Live discussions unpacked the role of the storyteller and examined the power that lies within the industry to build worlds, shape memories and change perceptions. It looked at who is telling the stories, who isn’t, and why that matters. Our industry programme offered emerging filmmakers and programmers networking and development opportunities, including SAFAR Futures, a new mentoring scheme for early-career Arab film programmers which culminated in a screening of their choosing at the Barbican Centre.

SAFAR Film Festival: The Stories We Tell In Arab Cinema ran from 1-17 July 2022 with screenings in London, Coventry, Cardiff, Glasgow, Hull, Liverpool, Manchester, and Plymouth. More films were available to watch by donation online. You can view the full programme on the SAFAR website.