Eight Arab short films have made the official selection of the Palm Springs International Shortfest this year, the largest film festival for shorts in the United States.
The award-qualifying festival is scheduled to take place virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic from Tuesday, June 16 to Monday, June 22. It will feature 332 films from 69 countries on its website for free. The selections were made from more than 6,000 submissions, organisers say.
Here's a closer look at the Arab films selected.
'Arabian Alien' by Meshal Al Jaser (Saudi Arabia)
Arabian Alien tells the story of Saad, a Muslim married man, who gets over his depression after a space alien is introduced into his life. In an interview with The National, Al Jaser said that he has been inspired by his own experience of living in Riyadh. The film, which was shot in Los Angeles, is running in competition for the Best of the Festival award.
'Give up the Ghost' by Zain Duraie (Jordan)
Zain Duraie's Give up the Ghost has already won the best Arab short film award at El Gouna Film Festival and has screened at a number of film festivals around the world. The film explores the story of a couple facing the difficulties of infertility, starring Maria Zreik and Ziad Bakri. In an interview with The National, Duraie said that the story was inspired by a couple she knew. "I felt like I had an obligation to write about it," she said. The film is in competition for Best Live-Action Short over 15 Minutes.
'Henet Ward' by Morad Mostafa (Egypt)
Halima, a Sudanese henna painter, and her seven-year-old daughter Ward get caught up in the craziness at a Giza home as they prepare a bride for her wedding. The film is running in competition for Best Live-Action Short over 15 Minutes.
'Ome' by Wassim Geagea (Lebanon)
Ome follows the story of nine-year-old Elias whom after the death of his mother, goes to extreme lengths to bring her back from heaven. The film has already won Best Fiction Short at the Tampere Film Festival and the Silver Star for Best Short Film at El Gouna Film Festival.
'So What if the Goats Die' by Sofia Alaoui (Morocco)
Abdellah, a young shepherd living in the mountains, is forced to brave the snow in order to get food and save his cattle. Once he gets to the village, he faces a supernatural phenomenon. It has won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The film is running in competition for Best International Short.
'Soukoon' by Farah Shaer (Lebanon)
The short film tells the story of Mariam, who worries that she might be pregnant while her marital life struggles. While this isn't Shaer's first short, the director is working on her first fiction feature film. Soukoon premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and is currently running in competition for the Best of the Festival Award and the Best Student International Short.
'Stallions of Palestine' by Elise Coker (Palestine)
This 30-minute short documentary is about a young Palestinian horse breeder named Abdel Naser Musleh and his family, who navigate the difficulties of raising Arabian horses in the West Bank. The film is running in competition for the Local Jury Award.
'The Present' by Farah Nabulsi (Palestine)
This Palestinian-British filmmaker Farah Nabulsi's first debut short production. The film tells the story of Yousef, played by Saleh Bakir, who decides on his wedding anniversary to go with his daughter Yasmine to buy a gift for his wife. As he goes between soldiers, segregated roads and checkpoints, it shows you what it means to go shopping under occupation. In an interview with The National, Nabulsi said that "the film is about human dignity and the importance of dignity and what it means for someone to continuously be dehumanised." The Present has won the Audience Award for Best International Short at Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, Best Live-Action Short award at the Cleveland International Film Festival and the audience award at the Brooklyn International Film Festival. The film is currently running in competition for the Bridging the Borders award.
To see the full selection of films, click here.