'Truly inspiring': Netflix training initiative for young Arab women is hailed a success

Programme aimed at empowering female filmmakers from the region concludes in Madrid

Dozens of women from the region joined the programme, which held workshops in Dubai, Jeddah, Cairo and Madrid. Photo: Netflix
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The first film industry training programme run by Netflix for young Arab women has been hailed as “truly inspiring”.

Maha Hani from Saudi Arabia was one of 37 women who went to Madrid to conclude a new initiative which began in November with three-day workshops in Dubai, Jeddah and Cairo. She enjoyed the “interactive and fun experience” and the opportunity to meet influential role models.

Netflix teamed up with the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (Afac) to support aspiring female directors aged 21 to 27 by introducing them to practices such as scriptwriting and filmmaking by established female directors.

“The programme was a great experience, not only for the quality of information being taught but also for meeting influential women from different areas in this industry and providing an interactive and fun experience,” said Hani.

“Seeing the drive and initiative by Netflix and Afac to provide opportunities for great stories by talented women all over the world is truly inspiring.”

In the final leg, participants visited Netflix’s content hub in Tres Cantos and widened their network. They also took part in talks with Casa Arabe, as well as Spanish government departments and film bodies.

For more mentoring, they met producer Emma Lustres, who has worked on films such as Cell 211 (2009) and Retribution (2015), as well as showrunner Gema R Neira, who worked on Nacho (2023), High Seas (2019) and Farina (2018).

Netflix and the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture announced the partnership last August to create the Women in Film: Introduction to the Creative Process, which aims to support talented young female filmmakers. A group of 45 women, who reside in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and Egypt, were initially selected to take part.

Rima Mismar, executive director of the fund, said: “As we embark on our 17th year of operations, we continue our active commitment to break stereotypes and champion women’s voices across the Arab region, creating avenues for the production of bold works that spark societal change in the longer term.

“In filmmaking more particularly, we are extremely pleased with this renewed partnership with Netflix, through which we can build on this commitment and instil technical capacities in young women talents of the region.”

Updated: February 26, 2024, 9:49 AM