Cinema Sabaya

The Arabic word “sabaya” means “women,” but if slightly mispronounced it can mean “prisoner of war.” At times in this award-winning, all-female film, the lives of the Israeli and Palestinian characters fit both definitions. 

Join us on Sunday, April 16, 2023, at 10 a.m. for Cinema Sabaya as Cinema Art Bethesda continues in-person screenings and discussions at the Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema.  As always, coffee/tea and bagels/cream cheese will be provided starting at 9:30 am.  Admission is $15 per person (cash or checks only) for the entire program.

Cinema Sabaya explores the difference and similarities between Arab and Jewish women, focusing on how the women, despite their world designed to keep them apart, can form empowering and lasting bonds.  For their video workshop in a small-town community center, they are learning to use cameras to documents their lives, their families and their beliefs. Writer/Director Orit Fouks Rotem presents a deft and heartfelt portrait of art’s capacity to unite disparate communities, moving effortlessly between the gravity of their conversations and the genuine joy generated by this unlikely group of friends.

Cinema Sabaya runs 1 hour 32 minutes. Dialogue in Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles.


More Details about Cinema Sabaya

Distributor: Kino Lorber

IMDB Information:

Festivals and Awards

Cinema Sabaya won five Ophir Awards (Israeli Academy Awards) including  Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress, Best Costume Design and Best Casting.  

The film represented Israel in the best international film selection process for the 2023 Oscars.

Jerusalem International Film Festival:  Best Debut Film

Weil Boch Award: Best Film 

Warsaw International Film Festival:  Best Film

Toronto Jewish Film Festival

Warsaw Jewish Film Festival

Nice Israel Film Festival


Variety  by Alissa Simon

“… full of life, love, humor and authenticity without being didactic. At the same time, it cleverly questions the ethics and responsibility of filmmaking.”

ScreenDaily  by Nikki Baughan

“While the film’s narrative may run a familiar path from conflict to resolution, Rotem’s light, authentic touch makes it an engaging journey.”

MovieNation by Roger Moore

“They get a look into each other’s lives, chide and nag one another to take action to improve those lives and share more than a few frank assessments of their marriages, mental states and dreams.”