Essential Middle Eastern cinema everyone should see
Time Out Dubai staff
Caramel (2007) Released in 40 countries, actress Nadine Labaki’s first film as director is the most internationally known Lebanese film to be produced, focusing on five women dealing with love in the modern world. Also check her 2011 follow-up Where Do We Go Now?
Chronicle of the Years of Fire (1975) The winner of the Palme d’Or prize at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival, this movie depicts the outbreak of the Algerian War of Independence in the 1950s.
The Cruel Sea (1972) One of the most important films to emerge from the Gulf is this Kuwati drama, directed by Khalid Al Siddiq.
Divine Intervention (2002) A surreal black comedy from Palestinian director Elia Suleiman, made up of brief interconnected sketches. Despite winning two awards at Cannes, controversy was caused when it was not nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
Halfaouine: Boy of the Terraces (1990) A Tunisian coming-of-age comedy/drama about a 12-year-old boy dealing with the tension between boyhood and manhood, from writer-director Férid Boughedir.
The Iron Gate (1958) A vintage Egyptian drama, also known as Cairo Station, directed by Youssef Chahine.
Messages from the Sea (2010) An Egyptian drama about a man returning to the Alexandria of his youth, directed by Daoud Abdel Sayed.
Paradise Now (2005) Hany Abu-Assad movie’s about two Palestinian men preparing for a suicide attack won a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, and sparked headlines across the world for its tackling of controversial subject matter.
The Silences of Palace (1994) This highly acclaimed Tunisian drama is about a woman who returns to her birthplace, the palace where her mother worked as a kitchen hand, sparking fresh memories. Written and directed by Moufida Tlatli.
West Beirut (1998) A light-hearted drama about a boy growing up in 1975 in the midst of a divided Beirut in a state of civil war. From writer and directer by Ziad Doueiri.