The Inaugural Southwest Asian and North African Film Festival Kicks Off This Week


The inaugural SWANA Film Festival will be a 3-day festival taking place April 28-30, 2023 at Riverside Theatres Parramatta. Bringing Southwest Asian and North African (SWANA) Cinema to Parramatta, the festival will showcase over 20 films spanning across Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Armenia, and Syria!

There will be six screenings across the festival featuring two Australian premiere feature films including opening night film Baghdad in My Shadow by Swiss-Iraqi filmmaker Samir (Iraqi Odyssey).

The Saturday matinee screening includes an all-Australian made lineup of SWANA films featuring Tania Raouf’s film exploring the legacy of Kurdish cinema, Cinema Beyond Borders. This session will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers themselves! Check this one out to find out what it’s like to be a SWANA filmmaker in Australia!

Saturday evening features a selection of outstanding shorts from Syria to Morocco. Then all the way from Turkey, a love story between two women on the island of Büyükada in our feature of the night, Love, Spells and All That by Ümit Ünal.

Sunday matinee, award-winning director, Eliane Raheb’s Miguel’s War follows the journey of Miguel (or Michele) looking back at his life as a gay man from Lebanon who shed his Lebanese roots for a life in Spain.

Sunday night features more outstanding shorts spanning Iraq, Egypt, the Emirates and Syria, with the festival endingwith a coming-of-age story filled with comedy, romance and tragedy from Egypt, Ayten Amin’s Souad.

SWANA Film Festival is a project of Arts & Cultural Exchange (ACE) who also hosted the the Arab Film Festival Australia (AFFA) between 2001 and 2018. AFFA was a community-led event supported by ACE that showcased Arab cinema from the region and diaspora. In 2023, SWANA Film Festival presents the next generation of filmmakers, curators and storytellers.

SWANA displaces the terminologies of Middle Eastern, Near Eastern, Arab World or Islamic World that have colonial, Eurocentric, and Orientalist origins.

‘Our key vision for the SWANA Film Festival is to connect audiences to films from the region and especially its diaspora, that are too often overlooked.’ Said Hajer, SWANA FF Director. ‘We will be dedicating a whole session of our program to an all Australian SWANA line-up including a q&a with the filmmakers’ – Hajer.

The SWANA Film Festival promises to be an exciting event for film lovers, artists and cultural enthusiasts alike. Don’t miss this groundbreaking festival and experience the best of local and international South West Asian and North African Cinema.

For more information and ticketing details, please visit

Press Release

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