U.S. Embassy Awards Hollywood Fellowships to Egyptian Female Filmmakers at the Aswan International Women Film Festival

By Manal Abdel Fattah

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo is honored to support the 2024 Aswan International Women Film Festival. In partnership with Los Angeles-based nonprofit Film Independent, the Embassy awarded three Film Residency Awards that will send visionary Egyptian women filmmakers to Hollywood for tailored programming and introductions to industry leaders as they finalize production of their fiction or documentary films.

The winners are Yomna Khattab, director of “50 Meters,” Sondos Shabayak, director of “And Me Too,” and Mavie Maher, director of “Fragile.” In accepting her award, Maher said, “It’s very important for me to share my films that are carrying the stories of my people and their voices worldwide because that’s a fundamental right for us to be seen and heard for who we really are. I can’t not think of this award but as a crucial step toward this and toward empowering the reshaping of the collective consciousness through a feminine narration that’s highly needed.”

During this week’s festival, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and Film Independent also conducted a four-day Creative Producing Workshop, led by U.S. filmmakers Avril Z. Speaks and Kelly Thomas. The workshop was designed to support and promote the creative expression of Egyptian filmmakers through short film projects and was open to emerging women filmmakers from Aswan and surrounding governorates.

“The United States is proud to partner with Aswan International Women Film Festival and its mission to promote cross-cultural dialogue and people-to-people ties,” according to U.S. Embassy Cairo’s Minister Counselor for Public Diplomacy Ruben Harutunian.  “The festival is a bridge to connect stories about and by women from all over the world to ensure their voices are heard and stories are seen. We can’t wait to see the final projects of the Egyptian filmmakers who will have an opportunity to develop and showcase their projects in the United States through the Film Residency Awards.”

The Aswan Internation Women Film Festival celebrates cinema as a medium to promote cross-cultural dialogue and showcases the best of Egyptian and international production in documentary and short films. Film Independent (FilmIndependent.org) supports visual storytelling through a global community of artists who embody diversity, innovation, and uniqueness of vision, seeking to inspire filmmakers, build an audience for their projects, and work to diversify the film industry.

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo works cooperatively with festivals and filmmakers throughout Egypt, bringing American filmmakers to lead workshops, panels, and masterclasses to connect and strengthen the arts and cultural partnership between the United States and Egypt. To learn more about U.S. Embassy cultural programs, visit eg.usembassy.gov and follow @USEmbassyCairo on Facebook, X, and Instagram.

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