SAFAR Film Development Workshop: Meet the Participants!

14 September '20

We are delighted to announce the 6 early-career filmmakers that have been selected to take part in the Arab Film Development Workshops hosted by SAFAR co-founder, Saeed Taji Farouky.

These two-day project development workshops bring together early career Arab filmmakers or filmmakers working on projects connected to the Arab world. Created as an intensive and collaborative experience, participants receive in-depth mentorship exploring all aspects of a film project from the idea, to execution, to funding and distribution.

Saeed first ran these workshops at 2018’s SAFAR Film Festival, and we are excited to be running them in collaboration again. Besides being the co-founder of SAFAR, Saeed himself is a filmmaker and artist, has been teaching filmmaking and cinematography since 2009 and has been producing work around themes of conflict, human rights and colonialism since 1998.

Get to know the participating filmmakers below!


Riffy Ahmed is an award-winning writer/director whose work straddles the art and film worlds. She has exhibited with The Times, BFI Flare, ICA, Tribeca Arts Centre, Nour Arts Festival, and the Saatchi Gallery. Riffy trained at Central Saint Martins and recently graduated from the National Film and Television School with a full scholarship from Channel 4. See her work at and read about her latest short Al Sarab here:


May Ziade is a French-Lebanese writer and filmmaker who worked as a Producer’s Assistant on Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs (2017) and The French Dispatch (2020). May is also a Social and Cultural Anthropology graduate with a research background in temporality and space, Middle Eastern feminism, and subaltern histories. Find her on twitter @mayjunehaha


Elias Millward is a freelance post-production supervisor working on high-end TV dramas and cinema, with filmmakers such as Sally Potter, Joanna Hogg, and Ken Loach. (He is pictured here with Seymour) Elias was raised in London by his Moroccan mother. He is currently writing his first screenplay, and hopes to use his varied experiences to tell stories that offer a deeper understanding of the multiplicity of Arab identity. Find him on instagram and twitter @dar_elias.


Arij Al-Soltan is a British-Iraqi producer and director whose work in documentary and fiction focuses on Iraq and the Middle East. Arij’s passionate work on character-led, human-interest stories has been shown on BBC, ARTÉ, MORE4, France 24 and Channel 4. She draws inspiration from her Iraqi-British heritage and life experiences, and believes filmmaking can be her voice in this world. You can read more about her, and see her work, at


Youcef Hadjezi is an Algerian-born, Kuwait-raised artist of lens-based media and performance. His work focuses on identity politics and notions of Diasporic queerness. He has featured in the Manchester International Festival, LADA, & Waterside Arts Centre, and continues to work in a number of production/creative roles including with the Shubbak Festival. You can see his work at and on instagram @youcef.hadjazi


Tamer Akeil was born to an Irish mother and Egyptian father; raised in London with Gujarati neighbours; schooled in Canada and obsessed with Japan – he can only be summed up as one thing: British. He sincerely hopes that his next project won’t get turned into a Netflix Original before he’s finished writing it. See his work at