4 Middle Eastern Films Are Heading to Toronto Film Festival

Another major score for representation

Despite Covid-19 placing almost all film productions on hiatus, 2020—the year that will go down in history whether we like it or not—has also been the year that the film industry has made a major pivot towards proper representation.

With 17 Arab filmmakers selected to join the Oscars jury, Tunisian producer Dora Bouchoucha joining the Venice Film Festival jury and Ramy Youssef scooping up three Emmy nominations – the weighty presence of filmmakers from North Africa and the Middle East in major film institutions is gaining momentum.

Having just announced their 50-film line-up, this year’s Toronto Film Festival—which will be a mix of physical and digital screenings—is due to be one for the books, and potentially one of the first to have any kind of post-lockdown physical iteration.


Film festival favourites Tarzan and Arab Nasser will be screening their second feature film ‘Gaza Mon Amour’, a love-story set in their native Gaza featuring ‘Fauda’ actor Salim Daw. The story follows a Gazan fisherman who is secretly in love with a market stallholder (played by ‘Ramy’ and ‘Succession’ actress Hiam Abbass).

Hailing from Egypt, 35-year-old filmmaker Mayye Zayed will be premiering her second feature film ‘Ash Ya Captain’ (‘Lift Like a Girl’ in English). The film is particularly interesting as it explores and reconfigures the notion of “femininity” in the Arab world, trailing and documenting the life of an aspiring female weightlifter in Egypt.

Iranian director Manijeh Hekmat, whose films often explore themes of violence against women and women’s rights, will be screening her new film ‘Bandar Band’, a highly cinematic take on the traditional road trip movie, which sees a band take a day-long journey across a flooded landscape to Tehran. Female Iranian filmmaker Farnoosh Samadi will be showing ‘180 Degree Rule’ – her second feature film –which tells the story of a school teacher from Tehran who is forbidden from attending a wedding in northern Iran by her husband.

Toronto Film Festival runs from September 10 – 19

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