10 best Arab films

Fifty years of movie magic, from Tunisia to Iraq, as chosen by Omar al-Qattan, film-maker and chair of Shubbak – A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture. From the Guardian

6 Arab Films That Cannot Be Missed:  What The Guardian Left Out

In response to the Guardian’s article, 10 Arab Films that Cannot be Missed, E Nina Rothe posts six Arab films that cannot be missed.

Essays on Turkish Cinema: Gonul Donmez-Colin’s Blog

Gönül Dönmez-Colin is an independent researcher and author specialized in the cinemas of the Middle East and Central Asia. She is the author of Women, Islam and Cinema (Reaktion Books, 2004), Cinemas of the Other: A Personal Journey with Filmmakers from the Middle East and Central Asia (Intellect Books, 2006), Cinema of North Africa and the Middle East (ed.) (Wallflower Press, 2007) and Turkish Cinema: Identity, Distance and Belonging (Reaktion Books, 2008) as well as a book written in Turkish, Paylasilan Tutku Sinema (Cumhuriyet Yayinlari, 1998).

Film, from Your Middle East

Reporters from Your Middle East talk to the directors, producers, and actors that make an impact on Middle Eastern film. The industry is entering an exciting era; Iran won an Oscar and Palestinians can see their struggle broadcasted on screens from Los Angeles to Stockholm. We follow this development closely through interviews, reviews, and much more. Enjoy!

psu logo edited Films about Sport

An annotated list of Middle Eastern films about sport.

Legends and Folktales

Folktales and legends embedded in a specific culture provide an opportunity to explore and teach rich and fascinating social lessons.

List of North African Films

Movies About the Middle East

An annotated list of films about the Middle East, listed in reverse order of date of release.

Palestine in Film: A Guide and an Annotated Filmography

This guide and filmography produced by the ADC provides a brief outline of Palestinian film production and distribution and points readers towards the films themselves, towards commentary on the films, towards film institutions, and towards other sources of information. The films listed here were made by Palestinians, or are about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, or about matters related to Palestine. Some are well-known films; others are largely unknown.

Sports and the Middle East: A Collection of Articles by the Middle East Institute

A collection of articles about sports in the Middle East.  Published by the Middle East Institute.

Science and Islam (video)

Physicist Jim Al-Khalili travels through Syria, Iran, Tunisia and Spain to tell the story of the great leap in scientific knowledge that took place in the Islamic world between the 8th and 14th centuries.

Baghdad Twist (video)

Featuring a unique collection of archival images, home movies and family photographs from Iraq, Baghdad Twist is a short film that pulls back the curtain on Iraq’s once thriving Jewish community. Baghdad-born filmmaker Joe Balass takes us on a journey through the fragmented memories of an Arab exile. This powerful collage forms a portrait of a time and place that no longer exists.

Class of 2006 (video)

WIDE ANGLE cameras are on location in Morocco as history is made. In May 2006, an imam academy in the city of Rabat holds a graduation ceremony. But the class of 2006 is no ordinary group of students. Side by side with the male graduates are 50 women pioneers, among the first contemporary group of women to be officially trained as religious leaders in the Arab world. Empowered to do everything that male imams do — except lead Friday prayer in a mosque — the women will fan out across Morocco to work as spiritual guides in mosques, schools, hospitals, and prisons, even hosting their own television and radio talk shows.

This website includes a six-part documentary, as well as interviews, articles, maps, and more.

Free Documentaries about the Middle East (video)

A collection of free documentaries about the Middle East.

Global Education Through Film: Identity Building in Israel (audio)

Sylvia Frankel, an adjunct member of the faculty of the Religious Studies Department at Lewis and Clark College, speaks at a workshop for educators focused on the use of film to teach about international topics in the K-12 classroom.

Global Education Through Film: Identity Building in Israel

Inside the Saudi Kingdom (video)

A documentary produced by the BBC which profiles Prince Saud bin Abdul.

Iran (is Not the Problem) (video)

Iran (is not the problem) is a feature length film responding to the failure of the American mass media to provide the public with relevant and accurate information about the standoff between the US and Iran, as happened before with the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. We have heard that Iran is a nuclear menace in defiance of the international community, bent on “wiping Israel off the map”, supporting terrorism, and unwilling to negotiate. This documentary disputes these claims as they are presented to us and puts them in the context of present and historical US imperialism and hypocrisy with respect to Iran. It looks at the struggle for democracy inside Iran, the consequences of the current escalation and the potential US and/or Israeli attack, and suggests some alternatives to consider.

Jerusalem (video)

After a year of research and preparation, the giant screen film JERUSALEM advanced into production with an unprecedented aerial shoot throughout Israel and the West Bank. Scheduled for worldwide release in 2013, the film will take audiences on a spectacular tour of the Holy Land and the city once believed to lie at the center of the world.

The Legacy of Nonviolent Movements in Iran (video)

This film takes a look into the two most recent mass movements in Iran’s history: the 1979 Revolution that brought the clerics to power, and the 2009 mass protests, known as the Green Movement, that threatened the foundation of the same clerical rule.

psu logo edited Movie Clips about Sport in the Middle East (video)

Clips presented by speakers during the Sport in the Middle East workshop.

My Neighborhood: A Film from Just Vision (video)

My Neighbourhood follows Mohammed el Kurd,  a Palestinian boy growing up in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in the heart of East Jerusalem, as he comes of age in the midst of unrelenting tension and remarkable cooperation in his backyard.

The Sand Castle (video)

WIDE ANGLE travels to the royal headquarters of the United Arab Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah as HH Sheikh Saud solicits top European architects to carry out his grandiose dream of a new capital city in the middle of his desert kingdom. The documentary follows a Norwegian architectural firm as it makes its bid to design the capital’s master plan, immersing viewers inside an unfolding drama in which agents of East and West struggle to arrive at an architectural vision both worlds can embrace — and one that will ultimately fulfill a Sheikh’s bold dreams.

Understanding Persian Culture Through Film (video)

A collection of 32 films about Iranian culture available free.  Password: portlandstateu

Wide Angle Documentaries: The Middle East (video)

Click here for a collection of Wide Angle documentaries about the Middle East.

Arab Culture through Literature and Film

Arab Culture through Literature and Film is a five unit high school curriculum that provides students with knowledge and tools to analyze and understand the Arab world. The materials utilize a student-centered pedagogical approach that promotes critical thinking and respect and encourages engaged global citizenship. Through this curriculum, students will recognize shared themes across the region and gain a sense of the rich diversity inherent to the multidimensional cultures of the Arab world. Students will study life and culture in the Arab world and engage with primary sources including films, short stories, and poems. Exposing students to Arab voices and putting human faces on the Arab world will increase understanding and tolerance in the American classroom.

psu logo edited Arabs in Hollywood

This lesson uses Jack Shaheen’s documentary, Reel Bad Arab, to explore the how Arabs have been portrayed in American cinema.

psu logo edited Baghdad High

Americans know little of life in Baghdad outside of war and violence.  This lesson aims to show students a different side of life in Baghdad by exploring the life of four teenagers during their senior year of high school.  American students will consider the challenges of life in a war zone—but also the similarities of life in high school.

psu logo edited Children of Heaven Lesson Plan 

By viewing the Iranian film Children of Heaven, students compare the lives of American and Iranian children.

psu logo edited Children of Heaven: Discussion Questions

Discussion questions for the Iranian film Children of Heaven

psu logo edited Diversity of Israel through Sport (Forerunners Lesson)

This lesson explores the diversity of Israel through the soccer film Forerunners (Israel, 2006)

DVDs at the Middle East Studies Center

The Middle East Studies Center maintains a large collection of DVDs from and about the Middle East.  DVDs may be borrowed ad no cost and picked up on site. Arrangements can be made to ship materials.  To borrow materials, visit the library website.

Film Education

Film Education provides free teaching resources, teacher training and cinema based events which support the use of film within the curriculum.

Film Story

Film Story is a comprehensive database of historical films categorized by era, region, subject, and film type. Film listings include basic film information, a short description, and themes.

Frontline: Muslims

The lesson packet bridges between the constraints of a documentary video production and the needs of the classroom. A correlation demonstrates that the materials meet content standards and skills mandates cited in state and national curriculum documents. They provide preparatory material that helps students get the most out of viewing part or all of the film with vocabulary, note-taking pages, as well as pre- and post-viewing questions for comprehension and critical analysis and assessment.

Garbage Dreams

This game is an enhancement to the film Garbage Dreams and helps students understand the lives of Garbage workers in Cairo, Egypt.

Global Education Through Film: Teaching History Through Film (audio)

Richard Paxton, Professor of Education at Pacific University Oregon, speaks at a workshop for educators that focused on the use of film to teach about international topics in the K-12 classroom.

Global Education Through Film: Teaching History Through Film

International Cinema Education

ICE uses the power of film, along with partnerships with the Simon
Wiesenthal New York Tolerance Center and Morgan Stanley, to help high school students become global citizens.

Iranian films about Children and Youth

List of films about Iranian children and youth.

Islam: Empire of Faith

This collection of teaching materials serves as a companion to the film Islam: Empire of Faith, available online on youtube.  For more information about the film, click here.

Media Construction of the Middle East

These four teaching-ready units (which include teacher guides, student handouts, overviews, and assessments) presented by Ithaca College explore the representation of the Middle East in the Media.  The units include: (1) Introducing the Middle East; (2) Israel/Palestine: Histories in Conflict; (3) War in Iraq: Whose Voice, Whose Story?; (4) Militant Muslims and the US.

psu logo edited Mem u Zin: Understanding Kurdish Culture through Poetry and Film

In this lesson, high school students watch the Kurdish film Mem u Zin to understand Kurdish culture. Students explore life cycle events and how the film symbolizes Kurdish longing for their land

psu logo edited Once Upon a Time Beirut (Lebanon, 1995)

This lesson uses the film Once Upon a Time Beirut to explore the Lebanese civil war.

Past in Motion

This powerpoint, presented at the workshop by Dr. Richard Paxton, reviews pedagogical methods for teaching with film.

psu logo edited Resources for Teaching with Film

A list of resources related to teaching about the Middle East with film.

psu logo edited Security or Separation? Analyzing the West Bank Barrier Through Soccer

This lesson explores varying perspectives on the West Bank Barrier through two short commercials.

Shadya: The Arab Israeli Experience & Muslim Feminism

These lessons use the Israeli movie Shadya to explore investigate the situation of Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel and to explore some of the ways that Muslim women are fighting for gender equality.


Shadya: The Israeli Arab Experience

During this lesson, students will investigate the situation of Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel and how the film Shadya draws attention to a population rarely exposed in the media. Students will then use their research skills to take a deeper look at a minority group in another country and present their findings and recommendations online.  Watch the film here.

Teach with Movies

Teach with Movies develops Learning Guides for over 350 films as well as lesson plans and articles on using movies for educational purposes.

Teaching September 11: A Film Guide for High School Teachers

This teaching guide provides  films that can help students understand domestic and international politics in the decade following the September 11 attacks.

The Battle of Algiers

This article contains a summary of the famous movie, Battle of Algiers (1966), as well as discussion questions and additional resources.


The Zabbaleen, Cairo’s Garbage Workers

This case study focuses on the zabbaleen, a sub-class of people who have found work as garbage collectors and recyclers in Cairo. Students will understand that: (1) the growth of Cairo has had a cyclical effect on the zabbaleen in that the city growth has caused more people to seek work as zabbaleen, many of whom must come from outside the city, thus contributing to the urban growth issue; (2) the rise and success of the zabbaleen is a key example of ways in which humans have adapted to the environment (in this case, the urban environment), and in which the environment has been modified by human activity; (3) new technology and international support for the zabbaleen’s activity has allowed for efficiency and lowering of pollution levels in Cairo, one of the world’s most polluted cities; (4) planning and maintaining urban infrastructure varies from city to city, but that the basic needs and pressures created by urbanization are similar in all cases.

Developed by the University of Texas at Austin

Veiling in Film

For what reasons does one practice veiling? How have these reasons changed, adapted and evolved over time within different regions and cultures? In Muslim-minority societies, what are some of the benefits or disadvantages of veiling? Students can explore these questions as well as others through the lens of film in this lesson. Also, students have a chance to delve into questions of voice and context when deciding how to treat information that is put in front of them.

Developed by University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, ReOrienting the Veil

World Affairs in Foreign Films

A database of international films dealing with global current events.