20 June '24

We’d like to introduce you to the brilliant participants selected for this year’s Arab Film Development Workshop as part of SAFAR Film Festival.

Over a two-day workshop, SAFAR had the privilege of welcoming three brilliant early-career Arab filmmakers to develop their projects connected to or inspired by the Arab world, with support from filmmaker Saeed Taji Farouky.

We have been blown away by their enthusiasm, talent, and openness, and are sure you will be too.
You can read more about them here, so have a look at their work, and show them your support as they develop their next projects.

Sara Masry is a UK-based actress and writer of Saudi, Palestinian and Yemeni heritage who grew up between London and Saudi Arabia. Her most recent theatre role was in Cutting the Tightrope at the Arcola Theatre. Sara enjoys writing about cultural and social issues, and is currently fundraising for her screenplay exploring honour and shame culture in SWANA societies. Sara is a director of Contemporancient Theatre, a theatre company engaging with Welsh history and local communities through theatre, such as the Syrian refugee community in Wales. She speaks Arabic and Farsi fluently, and enjoys playing piano. Beyond the creative sphere, Sara helps her sister run a Levantine-Saudi catering business. You can follow her work on Instagram @saramasry.

Moe Najati is a writer-director with Syrian and Lebanese heritage. Born and raised in the UAE before moving to London, his films are known for their emotional depth and vivid imagery. His work focuses on captivating narratives enriched by his multicultural background. Moe’s films were showcased at prestigious Academy, BAFTA, and BIFA qualifying festivals and have earned numerous awards. His latest short, ‘Ensouled,’ was nominated for Best Short Sci-Fi at the 2023 FilmQuest and featured at other notable festivals. ‘Uproar,’ his acclaimed short documentary exploring Havana’s Rumba scene, screened at Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2020. He is currently developing two feature films. You can keep up with Moe on Instagram on @moenajati

Attica Dakhil currently works at the British Film Institute in the international team managing the International Co-production strand of the UK Global Screen Fund. She previously worked in the Acquisitions and Production departments at StudioCanal in London and in Paris. She is fluent in English and French and bilingual in German and Italian. She has a BA from the University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’ and an MA in English Literature and Linguistics from the University of Cologne, Germany and spent one year studying German and English Literature at University College London. She is of Saudi-Arabian and German heritage, grew up in Italy and is now based in London. Since 2020 she has been developing a TV documentary series currently titled ‘Films, Fears and Frames: Storytelling beyond the West’, which is a journey through cinema in the ‘East’ and challenges fears and misrepresentations in the ‘West’.

Basma Khalifa is Saudi Arabia born, Irish/Scottish raised and Sudanese by birth director, filmmaker and writer. Basma has worked in the fashion industry for over 10 years as a Stylist before turning to film making. Her debut documentary, aired on BBC1/BBC3 in 2018. Basma has directed campaigns for brands such as Apple, Facebook and Netflix. Basma is currently working on her debut feature length documentary and her first scripted series as well as multiple shorts and has just launched Zola Studios, a creative studio creating community for the SWANA region and beyond. You can keep up with her on Instagram @basmakhalifa.

Madeleine Kelleyan (Mado) is an artist & storyteller from London. Her work uses immersive technologies such as VR & AR to create portals – interventions in physical and digital environments designed to hold space for under-represented stories from human & non-human worlds. Powerful but empathetic, her work focuses on knowing through feeling, engaging audiences with alternative ways of understanding the world through rich, multi-sensory experiences that audiences remember long after they leave. Presently, she is working on a VR film that tells the story of her Palestinian and Armenian family, a way to sit inside heritage and experience it as if it is a memory. She has exhibited at London Festival of Architecture & SXSW and worked with clients including The Smithsonian, Bestival, IKEA & Amazon. You can follow her on Instagram at @studio_oriel.

Mehdi Ackermann is a French-Algerian film editor based in Pantin, in the outskirts of Paris.
After studying philosophy and sociology at the Sorbonne, he decided to specialize in editing.
He is particularly interested in popular emancipation movements and marginalized histories. His work is dedicated to exploring popular and alternative narratives. Mehdi Ackermann has also been a social worker and youth mentor for over 10 years, working in association with educational, social and rehabilitation structures. You can follow him on Instagram on: @mehdack


Keep an eye on these up-and-coming filmmakers – they’re ones to watch!