The films were ranked by an international jury of prominent directors, producers, journalists, researchers, scriptwriters, and editors from the Arab world; they selected what they considered the best films in three categories: feature film, documentary, and short film, and presented them with festival awards.
The festival opened with Qadha, directed by Anis al-Aswad of Tunisia. The film’s protagonist is a 12-year-old boy whose ill mother cannot afford treatment. He gets involved in a traffic accident that nearly costs him his life, and by divine intervention, he gets a second chance. The film explores sensitive social and political issues, such as illegal immigration and organ sales—all observed through the eyes of a child. The film received the festival feature film award.
The narrative feature selection continued with the Egyptian film Abu Saddam, directed by Nadine Khan and starring Mohamed Mamdouh, both of whom won several prestigious awards for their roles in this road movie in the day of an experienced truck driver and his young new apprentice. By the end, the film offers a portrait of toxic masculinity.
From Morocco, the drama Final Round, directed by French Moroccan Mohammed Fekrane and Gustavo Cortés Bueno, tells the story of Rachid, a young man who dreams of becoming a world-famous boxer. He boxes daily in Morocco to make enough money to pay a smuggler so that he and his friend, Salek, can cross the Strait of Gibraltar from Tangier and reach Spain.
Crossing borders was also the theme of Europa, directed by Haider Rachid from Iraq. The film, which won honorable mention, told the story of three days in the life of Kamal, a young Iraqi man who attempts to walk from Iraq to Europe and gets into all sorts of trouble at the Turkish–Bulgarian border.
Meanwhile, a lighthearted film was State of Agitation from Lebanon by Elie Khalifé. Titled “Iltillak Khalas” in Arabic, which literally translates to “Enough, I told you,” the drama revolves around an enthusiastic filmmaker in Beirut with an overflow of ideas and whose characters go through strange circumstances.