Your session is about to expire in: . Go to cart. Your session has expired! Login.

Juries

Narrative Competition

Abbas Kiarostami
Abbas Kiarostami - President
Abbas Kiarostami is one of Iran’s (and, indeed, the world’s) most highly regarded filmmakers. Trained in graphic arts, his first work in film was in short documentaries before he moved on to craft unique narratives – poetry-infused examinations of day-to-day life (and death), often incorporating documentary techniques. His 40 films in as many years are led by Where Is the Friend’s House? (1987), Close-Up (1990), And Life Goes On (1991), and Through the Olive Trees (1994). His A Taste of Cherry (1997) won the coveted Palme d’Or at Cannes. He has won countless other awards at festivals worldwide. Kiarostami’s artistic vision is not limited to film as he is also an acclaimed poet, painter, and photographer.
Joan Chen

Joan Chen

Joan Chen is one of the most widely recognized and respected Asian stars in international film. She began acting as a teenager in China, attended film school in the U.S., then found success in Hollywood with starring roles in The Last Emperor (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1987), Heaven and Earth (Oliver Stone, 1993), and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Meanwhile, she continued appearing in many Chinese movies, including the award-winning Red Rose, White Rose (Stanley Kwan, 1997), and earned praise for her directorial debut Xiu-Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl (1998). She won the Australian Film Institute award for Best Actress for The Home Song Stories (Tony Ayres, 2007) and played important roles in Lust, Caution (Ang Lee, 2007) and 24 City (Jia Zhang-Ke, 2008).

Sunil Doshi

Sunil Doshi

Sunil Doshi is a Mumbai-based producer and a self-described “film activist.” He runs Handmade Films and has produced such titles as Nine Emotions (Santosh Sivan, 2005), Mixed Doubles (Rajat Kapoor, 2006), and Bheja Fry (Sagar Ballary, 2007). Doshi also founded NDTV Lumière with the aim of promoting international cinema in India. The company acquires quality international films, including winners from top festivals, for distribution in India; runs a 24-hour television network focusing on speciality cinema; and plans to offer films online and on other digital platforms in efforts to reach new Indian markets. According to Doshi, “Elitist walls must break down; cinema must reach out to the people.”

Michael Fitzgerald

Michael Fitzgerald

Producer Michael Fitzgerald was born in New York City, raised in Italy and educated in Ireland. After graduating from Harvard, he began his film career as a screenwriter in Rome before producing and co-writing John Huston’s celebrated adaptation of Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood (1979). He was also executive producer on Huston’s Under the Volcano (1984), which was nominated for two Oscars®. A producing partnership with actor/director Sean Penn culminated in their critically acclaimed 2001 production of The Pledge, starring Jack Nicholson. In 2005 he completed both Colour Me Kubrick, starring John Malkovich, and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, directed by and starring Tommy Lee Jones, which won the Actor prize for Jones and the Screenplay prize for Guillermo Arriaga at Cannes.

Nayla Al Khaja

Nayla Al Khaja

Nayla Al Khaja is the first woman film producer in the UAE and is the owner and CEO of D-Seven Motion Pictures. She graduated from Dubai Women’s College, then hosted a top-rated travel show on Arabian Radio Network. Later she studied film at Ryerson University (Toronto). Returning home, she founded her company in 2005. The following year she directed Arabana, a short film on the taboo subject of child abuse, and won the award for Best Emirati Female Filmmaker at the Dubai International Film Festival. She also helped found The Scene Club, the UAE’s first film club, and has received many accolades for her efforts and determination, including Emirates Woman of the Year in 2005.

Mohamed Khan

Mohamed Khan

Mohamed Khan has become one of the best-known directors in Egyptian cinema by crafting narratives that depict contemporary Egyptian life and often ordinary people in a realistic, disarming fashion. He was born in Cairo to Pakistani and Italian parents, and studied film in London before returning home. His directing career began in 1978 with the hit Cham’s Blow, and he has made more than 20 features since, working as a “rebel” within the industry, with high points including Wife of an Important Person (1987) and Dreams of Hind and Camilia (1988), both of which won awards at many festivals, and his most recent feature, In the Heliopolis Flat (2007).

Documentary Competition

James Longley

James Longley - President

James Longley has earned high praise for his artistic, naturalistic documentaries of life in some of the most conflicted places in the world. A resident of Seattle, Washington, he studied film and Russian language at Wesleyan University and VGIK in Moscow. His first film, Gaza Strip (2002), documented the lives of Palestinians during the second Intifada in 2001. Longley spent more than two years in production in Iraq following the U.S. overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime. Two documentary films resulted: Iraq in Fragments (2006) and Sari’s Mother (2008). Both were nominated for the Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature. In September, Longley was named to receive a coveted MacArthur Fellowship.

Rashid Masharawi

Rashid Masharawi 

Rashid Masharawi was born in Gaza in 1962 and grew up in a refugee camp; due to a lack of resources in Palestine, he studied film in Israel. Since then he has devoted his career to depicting everyday Palestinian life in both documentaries and narratives, highlighting the struggles of his people while eschewing overt politics. His first feature, Curfew (1993), won the UNESCO Prize at Cannes. Ticket to Jerusalem (2002) won the Silver Pyramid at the Cairo Film Festival. His latest film, Laila’s Birthday (2008), won Best Screenplay at MEIFF ’08. Masharawi is also tireless in promoting film in Palestine: he founded a local production and distribution company, and organized a mobile cinema for refugee camps.

Gonzalo Arijón

Gonzalo Arijón

Gonzalo Arijón was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, but has lived most of his life in France. He studied visual anthropology and filmmaking before directing for television. His debut, Stranded: I’ve Come from a Plane That Crashed in the Mountains, about the celebrated aftermath of the 1972 crash of a plane carrying a Uruguayan rugby team, received numerous awards around the world – including  the 2008 MEIFF Black Pearl Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Joslyn Barnes

Joslyn Barnes

Joslyn Barnes is a screenwriter, producer, and a founder and executive (along with actor Danny Glover) of New York-based Louverture Films, specializing in socially conscious material. She has produced or executive-produced the acclaimed films Bàttu (Cheick Oumar Sissoko, Mali, 2000), Salt of this Sea (Annemarie Jacir, Palestine, 2008), and Trouble the Water (Carl Deal, Tia Lessin, USA, 2008), the Academy Award®-nominated documentary about a couple who stayed in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Recently she also directed the short film Prana (2008), part of an international project to raise environmental awareness. Barnes is associate producer of The Time That Remains (Elia Suleiman), screening at MEIFF ‘09.

Hend Sabry

Hend Sabry

Hend Sabry was born in Tunis, and was only 15 when she appeared in her first film role, in Moufida Tlatli’s award-winning The Silences of the Palace (1994). She had her breakthrough in 2001 in Inas Al Degheidy’s gritty teen drama Teenage Diaries, and became a huge star in the Arab world. Her fame has allowed her to take her pick of films to appear in, but she has maintained an edge to her roles (Heads and Tails, Kamla Abu Zekry, 2005; The Yacoubian Building, Marwan Hamed, 2006; The Aquarium, Yousry Nasrallah, 2007), often portraying hidden sides of Arabic women’s lives. She earned her Master’s degree in law in 2004 and now lives in Cairo. Hend Sabry has a vocal cameo in Ahmed Abdalla’s Heliopolis, screening at MEIFF ‘09.

Short Film Competition

Yousry Nasrallah

Yousry Nasrallah - President

Yousry Nasrallah, born in Cairo, received his degree in economics and political science from Cairo University. He worked as a film critic and was the assistant to Volker Schlöndorff on the making of Circle of Deceit (1981). He later worked for legendary director Youssef Chahine, whose company would go on to produce his films. His work, including The Gate of the Sun (2004) and The Aquarium (2007), is often politically charged, dealing with themes of Islamic fundamentalism and expatriation. Nasrallah’s latest feature, Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story, screens at MEIFF ‘09.

Deepa Mehta

Deepa Mehta

Born in India, Deepa Mehta studied philosophy at the University of New Delhi and later emigrated to Canada. She wrote screenplays for children’s films, then directed episodes of George Lucas’  The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Her first feature, Sam & Me (1991), won an honorable mention at Cannes. Her “Elements Trilogy” (Fire, 1996; Earth, 1998; Water, 2005), depicting women’s oppression and sexuality in recent Indian history, brought her both controversy and acclaim worldwide. Water was nominated for the Oscar® for Best Foreign Language Film. She produced and wrote the screenplay for her brother Dilip Mehta’s directorial effort Cooking with Stella, screening at MEIFF ‘09.

Gary Meyer

Gary Meyer

Gary Meyer is well-known to film aficionados as co-director of the highly respected Telluride Film Festival in Colorado. He has been passionate about exhibiting films since he was a boy in Napa, California. He converted a hayloft on his family’s property into a cinema, and screened his own productions and classic films there throughout his teens. He worked with and promoted film in myriad ways while studying at San Francisco State University, including writing, developing film education classes for children, and organizing film societies. After graduating, Meyer worked as the buyer for United Artists, before co-founding the Landmark Theatres chain, the largest exhibitor of independent films in the U.S., which he ran for 20 years.

Menna Shalabi

Menna Shalabi

Menna Shalabi, one of the best and most popular actresses in the Egyptian film industry, was born to famed actress and dancer Zizi Mustafa. She was launched to fame with her role in The Magician (Radwan El Khashef, 2001). In 2005, she co-starred with Hend Sabry in Mohamed Khan’s Downtown Girls (2005) and won Best Actress from the Damascus Film Association; the following year she starred in the hit thriller Ouija (Khaled Youssef) and won an Egyptian Film Award for About Love and Passion (Kamla Abu Zekry). Her most recent film is Sorry for the Disturbance (Khaled Mara’y, 2008). She has also appeared in television shows, most recently this past Ramadan in The War of Spies.

Chadi Zeneddine

Chadi Zeneddine 

Chadi Zeneddine is a Lebanese writer and director, born and raised in Gabon in Africa.  He studied communications and then obtained a Master’s degree in film studies in Beirut. His first narrative feature, Falling from Earth (2007), has played at film festivals internationally, including Dubai, Rotterdam, and New Directors/New Films in New York. Zeneddine has just signed with Walt Disney International Pictures for an upcoming project, The Last of the Storytellers – a groundbreaking fairy tale set in the Arab world. He has also been granted the Cultural Leader Fellowship from the Japan Foundation for the feature Benshi.

festival guidedownload