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BBC Arabic Festival Is Back For A Fourth Year With A New Award For Digital Innovators

BBC Arabic Festival

The call for submissions for BBC Arabic Festival 2018 is now open. The festival, which is held in central London across seven days and on BBC Arabic TV, shows films and documentaries about the Arab World. A new category has been added for 2018’s festival, for Digital Journalism. All works entered must have been made after January 1, 2016, and reflect on current situations in the Arab world.

Digital journalism is emerging as an interactive multimedia form of storytelling. Audiences can access and engage with stories through images, video, or sound embedded onto maps, blogs, or digital graphics. From immersive virtual reality films to 360 degree filming, and even ‘news gaming’, the possibilities for new filmmakers and journalists are endless.

As every year, the official selection of films and journalistic work, along with the winner in each category, will be decided by an external panel of judges made up of experts and practitioners seeking originality, creativity and technical skill. Judges will include the UK’s Channel 4 News’ Fatima Manji, Time Out’s Dave Calhoun and Doha Film Institute’s Fatma AlRemaihi.

For the Digital Journalism category, entries will be judged based on the project’s innovative use of digital tools and new media, as well as the depth of research.

Head of BBC Arabic, Sam Farah, says “The BBC is creating unique and pioneering work reflecting on the world’s realities, from migration to human trafficking. We want to see what people out there are doing in reflection of their own lives. We believe that introducing a new category for Digital Journalism to the festival enhances our aim to foster journalistic talent focusing on addressing the issues of the Arab world in a contemporary and rapidly developing medium.”

All directors and journalists of the official selection will be invited to come to London and present their work at the festival, which takes place at the BBC’s Radio Theatre in the spring of 2018.

Two special awards, BBC Arabic Young Journalist Award and the Best Work in Journalism Award, will be decided by the BBC Arabic editorial team. Full entry details, along with submission forms, terms and conditions and details of the special award for ‘Young Journalist’ are available on the website:

Important points:

Films must have been made after January 1, 2016.


Special Award is given for the BBC Arabic Young Journalist Award, for a non-fiction filmmaker between 18 and 30 years old.

Special Award is given for the Best Work in Journalism for a non-fiction film or work of digital journalism.

A selection of the festival programme will also receive an invitation to air on BBC Arabic TV.

Film Categories

BBC Arabic Festival

BBC Arabic Festival


Short Films must be fictional pieces between three and 40 minutes in duration. This can include experimental and animation films.

We encourage narratives told with wit, humour and artistic interpretation. We also seek experimental films that use a variety of styles and elements of the audio-visual medium.

Short Documentaries must be a work of non-fiction and be over 10 minutes and under 40 minutes in duration.

We aim to showcase journalistic clarity, accuracy, balance, fairness, in-depth research and detailed analytical skills in documentary investigations. We will reward films that show courage in dealing with difficult subjects, films that challenge and question power and authority, seek justice or reveal something new about an issue of public interest in the Arab world.

Feature Documentaries must be a work of non-fiction between 40 and 90 minutes in length.

The Feature Documentary category is for well-researched and accurate long-form visual narrative exploring a current issue in the Arab region. The films should have strong production values, a compelling arc and engaging central characters.

Reportage must be a work of non-fiction and no longer than 10 minutes in duration. The Reportage category will recognise professional and non-professional reporters, journalists and film makers. This category will be openly judged, all formats are welcome, and amateurs are strongly encouraged. Rather than production value, we will be looking at the willingness and courage to help expose stories that are underreported.

Digital Journalism will be a web-based piece of journalism. This can include multimedia storytelling incorporating images, video, sound, interactive maps, blogs, and even ‘news gaming’. This can also include made-for digital video such as virtual reality and 360 degree films. This does not include web-based 2D film.

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