With the rise of anti-Arab violence, racism, and xenophobia, the diverse and honest cinematic representation of Arabs should be a priority for any film festival. This means images of men and women from across the Arab world who aren't merely villainous foils to heroic Western leads but, rather, individuals with dreams, fears, strengths, and weaknesses of their own.

The 2016 Tribeca Film Festival will be presenting several films that center on the complex lives and struggles of Tunisians, Iraqis, Syrians, Egyptians, and Palestinians. Meanwhile, over at the Tribeca Festival Hub, the VR project My Mother's Wing centers on a Palestinian family in Gaza in the aftermath of losing two young children to Israeli shelling while taking refuge at a UN school. Read on for more detailed descriptions of the films from the Arab world.

For screening dates, visit the Film Guide. Tickets go on sale March 29.

As I Open My Eyes
Section: Viewpoints
Directed by Leyla Bouzid, written by Leyla Bouzid and Marie-Sophie Chambon. (France, Tunisia, Belgium, United Arab Emirates) – US Premiere, Narrative.
As I Open My Eyes depicts the clash between culture and family as seen through the eyes of a young Tunisian woman balancing the traditional expectations of her family with her creative life as the singer in a politically charged rock band. Director Leyla Bouzid's musical feature debut offers a nuanced portrait of the individual implications of the incipient Arab Spring. With Baya Medhaffer, Ghalia Benali, Montassar Ayari, Aymen Omrani, Lassaad Jamoussi, Deena Abdelwahed, Youssef Soltana, Marwen Soltana. In Arabic with subtitles. Presented in association with Venice Days.
Buy tickets here.

After Spring
Section: Viewpoints
Directed by Ellen Martinez and Steph Ching. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.
Close to 80,000 Syrian refugees live in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan. After Spring immerses us in the rhythms of the camp, the role of the aid workers, and the daily lives of two families as they contemplate an uncertain future. Executive produced by Jon Stewart, this is a fascinating journey through the camp's physical and human landscapes. In Arabic, English, Korean with subtitles.
Buy tickets here.

Tickling Giants
Section: World Documentary Competition
Directed and written by Sara Taksler. (USA) – World Premiere.
Charting Bassem Youssef’s rise as Egypt’s foremost on-screen satirist, Tickling Giants offers a rousing celebration of free speech and a showcase for the power of satire to speak for the people against a repressive government. Where this story differs from the familiar success of Youssef’s idol, Jon Stewart: Bassem's jokes come with serious, dangerous, and at times revolutionary consequences. In Arabic, English with subtitles.
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El Clásico
Section: International Narrative Competition
Directed by Halkawt Mustafa, written by Anders Fagerholt and Halkawt Mustafa. (Norway, Iraqi Kurdistan Region) – North American Premiere.
Alan and Gona are in love, but Gona's father won’t approve their union because Alan is a little person. So, Alan hits the road with his brother, traveling from their small Iraqi village to the Bernabéu Stadium, home of Real Madrid. The plan: meet Cristiano Ronaldo, and earn the blessing of Gona’s father. El Clásico is a distinctly cinematic road movie, brimming with warmth and humor. With Wrya Ahmed, Dana Ahmed, Rozhin Sharifi, Kamaran Raoof, Nyan Aziz. In Arabic, Kurdish with subtitles.
Buy tickets here.

Junction 48
Section: International Narrative Competition
Directed by Udi Aloni, written by Oren Moverman and Tamer Nafar. (Israel, Germany, USA) – International Premiere.
Set against a backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Junction 48 charts the musical ambitions of Kareem, an aspiring rapper from the town of Lod. A heartbreaking portrayal of the intersection of personal and political tragedies, Junction 48 questions to what extent music can be dissociated from politics. With Tamer Nafar, Samar Qupty, Salwa Nakkara, Ayed Fadel, Sameh "SAZ" Zakout, Saeed Dassuki. In Arabic, Hebrew with subtitles.
Buy tickets here.

Homeland (Hemland)
Shorts Program: Rock and a Hard Place
Directed and written by Sara Broos. (Sweden) – North American Premiere.
A young woman escapes the war in Syria and ends up in the forest in Sweden. Listening to music is a way for her to survive and bring her back, in dreams and memories, to her homeland. This is a film about the power of music and the meaning of the word homeland. In Arabic, English, Swedish with subtitles.
Buy tickets here.

MY MOTHER'S WING, created by Gabo Arora, Ari Palitz/Vrse.works

My Mother's Wing
Section: Virtual Arcade
Project Creators: Gabo Arora, Ari Palitz/Vrse.works
Key Collaborators: Chris Milk, Patrick Milling Smith, Samantha Storr
In Gaza, foundations are built, destroyed, and built again. This virtual reality experience follows the struggle and strength of a mother coping with the death of her two children in the 2014 war.