According to an article in Variety in April 2017 it mentioned that a recent study commissioned by the Doha Film Institute showed that Arabic independent films are twice as likely to be directed by a woman. In fact, 26% of independent film directors in the region are female, “much more than directors of studio films in the West,” it noted. Only 4% of filmmakers are female in Hollywood, according to research by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

That would have not been the story one would have assumed was to be written for Yasmine Al Sayyid. A young Muslim woman who has been travelling between Canada and the Middle East learning the craft of film making, specifically directing.  “Growing up in the Middle East I would have never imagined the opportunities that I am embarking on now. To be on the verge of directing a film, let alone a film about my culture and background. It is unbelievable,” says Al Sayyid.

Yasmine looks up to woman who have forge the path before her like Saudi Arabian film director Saudi Arabian who is one of the country’s best-known and most controversial directors, and the first female Saudi filmmaker. American-Egyptian Jehane Noujaim’s film “The Square”, earning her an Oscar nomination.  Film making is a growing industry for women from the Middle East.  “The Arab world needs to see their own stories on screen” she says “to be able to see a film about your own life, and the kind of people you know and hear your own accent, it’s equally important. It tells you your life is worthy too, your small stories count, your life counts.

Cinema is not something for people in other places, “ Al Sayyid goes on to say.  She draws inspiration from the things she has seen in her home country as well as things she has seen in seeing world events.  All of this she has gather together and has been working on her film making skills through school and mentoring by award winning director Matthew Marshall and the iFilmGroup. “I am so very thankful to Mr. Matthew Marshall, Mr. Don Hickey and the iFilmGroup for the wonderful opportunity to work with them and to be mentored in their Accredited Mentoring Program” says Al Sayyid about her opportunity to be mentored by Marshall and through the iFilmGroup “Accredited Mentoring Program”.

Marshall is impressed with her drive and determination and is sure that she will be making films in the very near future about topics and issues that are dear to her heart.  “This is the kind of thing that we want to do with iFilmGroup” says Marshall. He feels it’s important to pass along knowledge and experience so that the next generation can carry on the craft of film making. Al Sayyid is not going to waste the knowledge she has gained. “ I intend to take all that I have learned and continue to advance my craft or film making and learn about all aspects of film making and perfect my skills as a filmmaker”, Al Sayyid says.  For Marshall and Hickey they continue to look forward to the new people on the horizon that will be part of their mentoring programs with iFilmGroup.

 

For more information on iFilmGroup mentoring and the iFilmGroup Accredited mentoring program go to the iFilmGroup website at https://ifilmgroup.org/accredited-mentoring-program/

 

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