21st Annual Arab Film Festival

San Francisco October 13 – 22, 2017
Los Angeles October 27 – 29, 2017

The Arab Film Festival (AFF) is now accepting submissions for its 21st annual film festival to be held in October 2017. AFF annually showcases works by independent filmmakers that provide insight into the beauty, complexity and diversity of the Arab world alongside realistic perspectives on Arab people, culture, art, history and politics. This year’s festival is particularly interested in, animation, children’s films and films that reflect political realities from a universal lens.





  • Films must have been produced between January 1, 2014 – June 1, 2017.
  • EXHIBITION FORMATS for accepted films must be in DCP format with a frame rate of 24fps at high resolution .264 or Blu-Ray Discs.
  • All non-English language films must have legible English language subtitles.  Exceptions are  made for entries with little or no dialogue.
  • The film must not be available on the internet or have been broadcast nationally on cable or satellite television prior to the festival screening, with the exception of the music video category.
  • Accepted films must arrive with shipping and customs duties or taxes pre-paid.
  • You may submit through FilmFreeway or submit a completed paper submission form.

ACCEPTABLE FORMATS FOR SUBMISSION                                                                                                 
AFF prefers that you submit all materials using FilmFreeway.  You may also send a downloadable link of your film (Vimeo, Dropbox, or YouTube) to films@arabfilmfestival.org or mail submissions to the AFF offices in San Francisco, CA.  

Submissions via mail should be sent to:
Arab Film Festival
Programming Department
3739 Balboa Street #125
San Francisco, CA 94121 USA


  • PACKAGING: ship your disc/digital file in a bubble-pack envelope.  A fiber pack envelope can cause damage to decks.
  • COSTS & LABELING: all shipping costs to and from San Francisco must be borne by the sender.  All disc/digital files must indicate title, shipper’s name and return shipping address.
  • IMPORTANT: Entries are to be sent via normal mail or international carrier and labeled with “No commercial value, for cultural purposes only”.  Customs should be declared with a value not exceeding 5 Euros/US Dollars.  Shipments held by customs authorities due to improper labeling or lack of value declaration will not be cleared.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS                                                                                                                        
Entries received late or incomplete may be disqualified.

Please note: If you are submitting multiple films, each film must be submitted on a separate disc/file for selection purposes. Compilation discs with multiple titles will not be accepted. Entrants are responsible for obtaining any necessary licenses, royalties, release forms, clearances, and permits necessary to present their work.  The Arab Film Festival is not responsible for any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, or royalty infringement related to the work.  Every precaution will be taken to safeguard all materials sent to the Festival, but the Festival is not responsible for damage to submitted materials incurred by shipping to or from the Festival. Each official selection will require the following:                                                                                           

  • A password protected preview of the film sent to us through a Vimeo link.
  • Completed online entry form.
  • Two stills from the film (color preferred, B&W accepted).  Digital stills and press kits are preferred.  Stills must be hi-res, at least 600 dpi contain an actual shot from the film
  • One photo of the director, must be 600 dpi
  • Full cast/crew list.
  • Film synopsis – 120 word logline / synopsis of the film and a 20 word logline / synopsis of film.  Short films are only required to provide the 20 word logline.
  • Payment – if not paid through Filmfreeway, a check should be mailed to the festival offices.
  • You may email all materials to films@arabfilmfestival.org  or upload them to  Filmfreeway.  Be sure to activate your press kit on Filmfreeway.

*Please note that The Festival does not pay screening fees for submitted films.  

Filmmakers will be notified on or before August 10, 2017 as to whether or not their film has been officially selected. Upon acceptance the filmmaker will receive an email verifying selection status. Be sure to have  films@arabfilmfestival.org on your accepted email list.  

Submission Deadline: May 31, 2017
Features submission fee: $10
Shorts submission fee: $10

Late Submission Deadline: June 15, 2017
Late features Submission fee: $40
Late shorts submission fee: $25

*Incomplete entries will not be considered  

Our deadlines are POSTMARK DEADLINES.  Please make sure to have your film postmarked by the deadlines listed above or you will be charged the late fee before having your film processed. We suggest that you submit your film as early as possible to save on submission fees and to allow more time for consideration.

Official selections will be shown during the Festival in their original film gauge or video format whenever possible. The Arab Film Festival screens only works available via downloadable versions (high resolution .264 format), DCPs, and Blu-Ray discs. All works in a language other than English must be subtitled in English for festival presentation, exceptions will be made for films with little or no dialogue.

The Arab Film Awards will celebrate filmmakers whose original works is distinguished in their category.  A pre-screening committee will select four finalists in each category after viewing all  selected to be part of the competition.  A five-member jury made up of important  members of the film and academic communities will select the outstanding films and bestow the award of Recognition to directors in the following categories:

  • Best Narrative
  • Best Documentary
  • Best Short Film
  • Innovator Award
  • Audience Award

The preview copies submitted become property of AFF and will not be returned.  The filmmakers retain all rights to their submitted films.