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New festival of Southwest Asian and North African cinema screening in Sydney- 28 - 30 April


The first-ever SWANA Film Festival, presented by Arts & Cultural Exchange (ACE) Parramatta, is a 3-day festival of Southwest Asian and North African cinema screening at Riverside Theatre, Parramatta across the weekend -  28 - 30 April 2023!  

ACE Executive Director Anne Loxley said, “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.”

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.  

SWANA Film Festival Director Hajer Al-Awsi said, “the Festival aims to connect diasporic audiences to films from the region, and promises to be incredibly inclusive, featuring two LGBTQIA+ films as well as representing over five different languages.”

“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),” she said.

Highlights include: an all-Australian-made lineup of SWANA short films, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers themselves (Sat 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 (Sun 30 April, 6:30pm).

Audiences can grab an “all-access pass” for $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 (Sun 30 April, 11am).

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.

For more information and ticketing details, please visit: 

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

Dates: 28 - 30 April 2023
Age: For mature audiences only
Venue: Riverside Theatre, corner of Market St & Church St, Parramatta NSW 2150
Getting there is easy, for more info visit HERE
All Access Passes for $80.00
3-Session Passes for $60.00
Single Session Passes for $28.50

Follow Arts & Cultural Exchange: Facebook | Instagram 

Editor’s Notes 


Established in 1984, Arts & Cultural Exchange is a Western Sydney-based community arts organisation with five program pillars: First Nations, Youth Engagement, Multicultural Women, Artists with Disability and People in Aged Care, and Screen. We have a longstanding reputation for three things: we are committed to social justice, we use creativity to reverse disadvantage and we produce ground-breaking interdisciplinary, intergenerational collaborative projects co-devised with the communities with whom we work.

ACE’s hard-won funding comes through grants from government departments and foundations, venue and equipment hire and donations. ACE is an ACNC-registered charity with Deductible Gift Recipient status. Any donation over $2.00 is tax deductible. By supporting ACE, you are investing in the creative empowerment and sustainability of some of Western Sydney’s most under-represented communities.





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