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SAFAR Film Festival
Institute of Contemporary Arts
21 June – 5 July 2023

An older woman sits in a chair in front of colourful hanging clothing. She is holding a piece of clothing made of red threads

For its eighth edition, SAFAR is embarking on a journey through space and time in Arab cinema, mapping the region across a new axis and showcasing films that traverse territories and historical periods.

The programme hones in on films with distinct locations and settings rarely seen on screen. Several filmmakers venture into uncharted geographies to bring their tales to life, while others spin fresh perspectives on the domestic and the familiar. Some revisit the past to better understand their present, using archive, oral history, pop culture and period costume to uncover forgotten or unheard stories.

Documentaries and fictions transport the public through time to Cairo, Damascus and Beirut: as they were filmed in the ’80s and ’90s by revered filmmakers Youssef Chahine, Borhane Alaouié and Mohamed Malas, and as they are filmed today through new lenses.

A focus on contemporary Moroccan filmmaking presents a cinema not shying away from exploring queerness, classism and segregation, and a special programme of screenings and talks with Palestinian filmmakers and artists commemorates 75 years since the Nakba.

Beyond the cinema, the festival also presents two special events platforming Arab and SWANA artists working with photography, experimental music and video.
SAFAR is presented in partnership with the Shubbak Festival and is supported by the British Council, the Bagri Foundation and the City of London Corporation. It screens in four venues across London and eight other cities across the UK. View the full programme on SAFAR’s website


Close up photo of a person's face with their eyes closed, reflecting red light, traffic and light signs, behind glass covered by water droplets

Wed 21 June, 7pm
GPP and SAFAR Film Festival are teaming up to present the first ever Slidefest in the UK.

A cartoon of people, buildings and memories from recent events in the Middle East

Sun 2 July, 1pm
In collaboration with SAFAR Film Festival, Another Sky – a new UK festival of SWANA experimental music – presents a joint commission between two early-career artists.

School kids sit on classroom furniture outside, looking at their phones

Sun 2 Jul, 3:30pm
In a Palestinian town, Tamer and his friends lead a typical high school student’s life until the arrival of the beautiful Maysaa.

A person in a white flowing outfit holds a small artefact, sitting on their bed in their room

Sun 2 Jul, 5:30pm
A double bill of films exploring, documenting and archiving women’s histories, followed by a discussion with filmmakers Sara Suliman and May Ziade.

A man sits on a bench in an outside pen of white doves. Another man stands over him

Sun 2 July, 8pm
Nasser, an unexceptional washout, is diagnosed with a brain tumor when he meets an enigmatic and peculiar young woman.

A person in a green coat sits at their kitchen table, writing something by candlelight

Thu 6 Jul, 6:15pm
In a small village in the occupied Golan Heights, the life of a desperate unlicensed doctor going through an existential crisis takes another unlucky turn when he encounters a man wounded in the war in Syria.

A person stands in a desert, holding a piece of branch behind their back

Fri 7 Jul, 8:30pm
Responding to this year’s overarching festival theme, this programme of Arab short films offer a reflection on spaces and time, plus a discussion with VHS Tape Replaced director Maha Al-Salti.