SWANA Film Festival Riverside Theatre

Rebecca Varidel
11th Mar 2023

The first-ever SWANA Film Festival presented by Arts & Cultural Exchange (ACE) Parramatta, is a three day festival of Southwest Asian and North African cinema screening at Riverside Theatre, Parramatta across the weekend 28 - 30 April 2023.

The SWANA Film Festival promises to be an exciting event for film lovers, artists, and cultural enthusiasts offering 20 unique films across the program, from Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Armenia, and Syria.

Highlights include an all-Australian-made lineup of SWANA short films, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers themselves SaturdAY 29 April, 2pm; a selection of outstanding shorts from Syria to Morocco (Sun 30 April, 1pm); award-winning director, Eliane Raheb’s Miguel’s War, and the Festival closing night - starting with shorts spanning Iraq, Egypt, the Emirates and Syria, and a coming-of-age comedy-romance- tragedy feature from Egypt, Ayten Amin’s Souad SunDAY 30 April, 6.30pm.

Audiences can grab an 'all-access pass' for JUST $80, which includes entry to Sobhiya morning feast (SWANA brunch) and screenings at ACE from Melbourne-based artist Sammaneh Pourshafighi, and Andari’s Stove intimate exploration of life in a rural village in Mount Lebanon, followed by a panel discussion featuring Refugee Art Project Sunday 30 April, 11am.

“ACE is thrilled to bring the first-ever SWANA Film Festival to Western Sydney. The Festival is an important community-led project that showcases the diverse and important perspectives of Southwest Asian and North African voices” said ACE Executive Director Anne Loxley.

“SWANA audiences can be the first to see two Australian feature film premieres - the opening night film Baghdad in My Shadow by Swiss-Iraqi filmmaker Samir (Iraqi Odyssey) - this special night also includes delicious food, and DJ set by Nelya (Fri 28 April, 7pm). The second premiere is Love, Spells and All That from Turkey, by Ümit Ünal (Sat 29 April, 7pm)” enthused SWANA Film Festival Director Hajer Al-Awsi.

Arts & Cultural Exchange has a strong history of supporting community-led events and festivals, having hosted Arab Film Festival Australia (AFFA) from 2001 to 2018. AFFA showcased Arab cinema from the region and diaspora to western Sydney audiences, and in 2023, ACE continues its support of such events through SWANA Film Festival – bringing the next generation of filmmakers, curators and storytellers to the community.

SWANA Film Festival is a project of Arts & Cultural Exchange (ACE), supported by Screen NSW, City of Parramatta and Arab Theatre Studio.