Lutfia Rabbani Foundation and IDFA partnership: Young Arab film makers at IDFAcademy
“In such times, when standing against racism, exclusion, injustice, oppression or global warming might be called “elitist,” when state subsidies for arts and culture are being cut down in various parts of the world, allowing populist approaches and discourses to take over—it feels like we don’t have much choice. We can choose to escape reality by watching a fun romantic comedy in order to forget. We can choose to lose sleep, fall into the trap of continuous draining panic, and watch a sensationalist commercial documentary. But, in fact, we do have a third way: we can protect our sanity, our balance, and our integrity while we face such a reality. This is where good cinema comes in,” said Nyrabia.
IDFA seeks to create long term change, which requires examining and transforming an industry built on inequality. IDFA hopes to enable and empower a new generation that is more inclusive and provide more opportunities to build a new, different reality. The 32nd festival also marked the highest percentage of female filmmakers in IDFA’s history. Still, IDFA strongly believe that equality begins with gender but doesn’t end there. To act inclusively is to ensure a fair representation of filmmakers from the global south, from marginalized communities, and from all under-represented communities and regions in the four corners of the world. All these groups should have the opportunity to make good films, take ownership of their narrative, and share their work with the world, equally.
Each year, IDFAcademy offers a group of 100 talented documentary filmmakers and producers the opportunity to gain up-to-date knowledge about the international documentary industry. With the support of the Rabbani Foundation and partial support of the IDFA Bertha Fund, IDFA was able to bring 7 participants from the Arab region to IDFAcademy.
Lana Daher is a filmmaker living and working in Beirut, Lebanon. Her early experience experimenting with audio visual media and as a DJ led her to collaborate with artists and musicians from the Lebanese underground music scene on videos and print work. Her storytelling practice ranges from documentary to narrative filmmaking. She is interested in where both can meet. Lana earned her BFA in Graphic Design from the American University of Beirut and her MA in Filmmaking from Goldsmiths College, University of London in 2012. She has since both shot and directed commissioned documentaries on independent Lebanese designers and their relationship to their work and city, as well as music videos and short films. Do You Love Me is her first feature documentary which she is directing as well as co- producing.
Project: Do You Love Me (in development)
Lana indicated she was hoping to get fresh external perspectives on her projects and its ideas, in order to see how people understand it and respond to it. Next to that she was excited to meet fellow filmmakers, and especially some Masters like Peter Forgacs, who has an archival film as well, that is very close to Lana’s film. At last, Lana was hoping to get a chance to pitch and receive input on improving her communication skills in her pitches.
Remi is a Lebanese film director/producer. A graduate from the London Film School, Remi started her career as a documentary director for Al Jazeera Documentary Channel. She participated in numerous writing and directing workshops, among them a filmmaking workshop with Werner Herzog in Cuba. Her work was awarded the Prix Du Jury at Tetouan International Film Festival and screened at multiple international film festivals such as Rotterdam Film Festival and Palm Springs Film Festival. Remi’s work has been featured on BBC Arabic, Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera Channel.
Film: A Long Breath
Remi indicated she wanted to attend IDFAcademy 2019 in order to engage in dialogue with other filmmakers from different latitudes in order to learn different formal and thematic approaches that are becoming relevant in the contemporary documentary landscape. During IDFAcademy she would like to learn more and meet professionals sales, financing, producing and distribution.
Asmae el Moudir
Asmae El Moudir (director, editor and producer) has been working in cinema and audiovisual since 2010. She has directed documentaries for SNRT, AlJazeera Documentary, BBC and Al Araby TV. Asmae has been first assistant director on multiple Moroccan feature films. She has directed three short fiction films and studied at La Femis (French film school) where she produced her most awarded film Thank God it’s Friday: Sao Paulo Short Film Festival, Mostra FF, Malmo, Beirut, Fameck Arab Film Festival, Tangier National IFF, Africa Movie Academy Awards and many others. Asmae co-founded the audiovisual production company Horizons For Media Films, that will later become Insight Films Morocco. Her current project, The Mother of all Lies, is a new step in her career since it will be her first feature film.
Project: The Mother of All Lies
Asmae indicated she wanted to join IDFAcademy 2019 in order to further develop her upcoming film Mother Of All Lies. She seeks support, since she sometimes feels it is hard to be a Moroccan female artist and finding connections and support from European key figures is “lifechanging” for her. Asmae’s project is controversial in Morocco and censorship is being still highly ruling in cinema landscape, and so having peers to talk to is helpful in her process.
A Jordanian director and producer of Palestinian roots, Dina first graduated with a BA in Art and Graphic Design in 2003. In 2013, Dina was granted the Docnomads scholarship program for master’s degree Documentary Filmmaking in Lisbon, Budapest and Brussels. Following her graduation, she followed her passion for filmmaking, and worked her way through diverse TV productions like Sesame Street, and film productions such as The Cut by Fatih Akin, and Inchallah by Anais Barbeau‐Lavalere. She then transitioned behind the camera and began to independently direct and produce. Dina’s devotion for documenting is inspired by people who are seemingly ordinary, until you learn of their unsung circumstances, and by stories that spring from her homeland in Palestine. Her film Tiny Souls, as a project selected for IDFAcademy 2017 and later on selected for IDFA 2019, takes a look at the refugee crisis through the eyes of children.
Film: Tiny Souls
Dina indicated that she wanted to come to IDFAcademy to network for her following project.
Rami Farah & Lyana Saleh
Rami and Lyana premiered their film A Comedian In A Syrian Tragedy at IDFA 2019 and attended IDFAcademy 2019. The film It is an intimate portrait of the Syrian film and television actor Fares Helou, who is forced into exile after standing by the pro-democracy protestors in Syria, 2011. With his family he starts a new chapter in France full of questions, disappointments and alienation, but also of hope and cultural confusion that calls for laughter. The film is produced by Lyana Saleh for OSOR.
Film: A Comedian in a Syrian Tragedy
“I expected to go to many lectures, but it turned out that the academy gave a lot of space to participants to network and to attend other IDFA programs. The sessions were not a lecture, but an experience-sharing from master, which I found very inspiring for filmmakers better than being taught.”
“My expectations were to meet with producers to present my project, my first feature-length documentary in progress, and I think I achieved my goal.”
“I didn’t know what to expect but I was so overwhelmed by just how amazing the program was – so well organized and so useful. Felt very privileged to be a part of it.
IDFA and the Lutfia Rabbani Foundation will continue their partnership with a collaborative screening mid 2020 as a way to contribute to Euro-Arab dialogue by means of film and debate.