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Netflix Is on a Mission To Support Arab Women in Filmmaking Through New Program

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Fueled by the intrinsic desire to uphold and support the diverse talent who make up our region’s creative scene, over its decade-and-a-half-long existence, the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), which was founded in 2007, has emerged as a real nest of hope and amplifying body for sidelined voices as well as those who have been left unheard for far too long. This week, the Beirut-based organization joined forces with world-leading streaming service Netflix to provide training for up-and-coming female talents in the silver screen industry, paving the way for a far more inclusive and fair atmosphere and landscape to prevail— especially in such a male-dominated space. 

Designed to increase the representation of women in cinema, the partnership, which is set to kick off simultaneously in Cairo, Dubai, and Jeddah this coming November, will provide participants with the unparalleled opportunity to gain firsthand experience and insight from one of the industry’s own respected giants, notably through a series of comprehensive workshops, masterclasses, and mentorship sessions led by established female filmmakers from the Arab World. 

From scriptwriting and directing to cinematography and post-production, the three-day-long seminar will aim at unveiling tightly kept industry secrets whilst also increasing the overall number of women in the creative field as a whole. What’s more, the program will provide selected trainees with an exciting opportunity to visit Netflix’s production hub in Europe in early 2024. 

“At Netflix, we are passionate about amplifying women’s voices behind the camera. That includes a commitment to authentic storytelling which is intrinsically linked to developing the region’s talent pipeline. AFAC has been a long-standing partner and has done some incredible work for underrepresented voices. Through this partnership, we are discovering a wealth of promising Arab talent and working to ensure that women are represented both on and off camera,” said Nuha el Tayeb, Director, Content Director Middle East, Africa, and Turkey at Netflix.

“Throughout our 16 years in operation, we have been committed to supporting bold creative voices of women and men artists, who are trying to push boundaries and challenge status-quos. In film specifically, 44% of supported films to date are by women filmmakers. Through this renewed partnership with Netflix, we build on that commitment, extending our technical support to emerging women talents and allowing for a deeper understanding of the inequities and inequalities that women are subjected to in the film industry,” added Rima Mismar, Executive Director at AFAC.

Open to Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi, Kuwaiti, and Emirati filmmakers, between the ages of 21 and 27, graduating from film studies and interested in film, in total, 45 women will be carefully chosen to take part in the immersive program, hoping to accelerate their respective careers through a transformative colloquium that is adamantly focused on fostering skill development, forging vital industry connections, and nurturing a dynamic environment of creative exchange.

With applications opening on Aug. 17 until Sept. 8, the course is cementing itself as another empowering brick onto Netflix’s wall of commitment towards driving and instigating positive change in the cultural arena, coming on the heels of prior significant strides and efforts made by the streaming service, including its partnership with AFAC, where together they granted $250,000 to support women producers and directors in the Arab world.

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