Hollywood Arab Film Festival offers untold stories from the Middle East

George Pennacchio Image
Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Hollywood Arab Film Festival provides opportunities for untold stories
The Hollywood Arab Film Festival in Glendale is offering new opportunities to filmmakers from the Middle East.

GLENDALE, Calif. (KABC) -- In the world of film festivals, we've all heard of Sundance, Cannes and Telluride. But there is a relatively new festival starting to make an impact. And it's showing movies we basically never get to see.

The Hollywood Arab Film Festival kicks off its third year of celebrating movies from the Middle East.

"Bye Bye Tiberias" is one of several films that make up The Hollywood Arab Film Festival. It is a passion project for the festival's director, Maykel Bakhoum.

"We are a nonprofit organization, and our goal is celebrate diversity, celebrate inclusion in the Hollywood society," said Bakhoum. "And right now, diversity and inclusion matter more than ever. And we're happy we're living in that era that we can see our film screened in the industry here."

Filmmakers from the Middle East traveled to Los Angeles to participate in the festival, hoping Hollywood is open to what they have to offer.

"It's very important for us to be around here, " said Tarek El Ganainy. "Hollywood, at the end of the day, it is the capital of the cinema world. So having a voice here and having some sort of representation is something that we're always looking for."

"Now it's a matter of being able to find distribution because getting a film in a festival is one thing but for us, these festivals are a way of opening a door to distribution," said Mohamed Hefzy. "And I think without distribution these films will continue to be niche."

The Hollywood Arab Film Festival offers something moviegoers here don't readily get an opportunity to see.

"That's one of the reasons why we started the festival because I live here now for 16 years and we didn't get a chance to see Arab films screened on a big screen," said Bakhoum. "And we had that goal. We need to show people our story. Our story is telling who we are."

The Hollywood Arab Film Festival runs April 17-21, with all screenings held at the Look Cinemas in Glendale.