From Labaki to Ben Hania: 6 Groundbreaking Female Arab Directors Breaking Boundaries

Going Hollywood big and having your movies premier abroad is a dream come true. It truly serves as a great accomplishment, and comes with great pride for one’s nationality. In Arab countries, the challenge grows bigger and yet, here we have a list of female Arab directors who broke boundaries and stereotypes with their success as filmmakers!

Haifaa al-Mansour

She’s the first female Saudi Arabian filmmaker. Haifaa has directed Arab movies as well as Hollywood movies. ‘Wadjda’ is a movie based in Saudi Arabia, written and directed by her, and got nominated for a BAFTA film award. She has also directed movies written by other Hollywood writers including Mary Shelley, starring the beautiful Ella Fanning, and also directed ‘Nappily Ever After,’ starring Sanaa Lathan.

Annemarie Jacir

A Palestinian filmmaker, one of Annemarie’s leading movies is ‘Wajib.’ The movie earned 23 wins, in which one of them includes Best Film from the London Film Festival. As a director, Annemarie is a jury member for the Academy Awards, Cannes Film Festival, and Berlin International Film Festival!

Kaouther Ben Hania

This Tunisian film director has climbed her way up to gain two Oscar nominations. Her movie ‘Beauty and the Dogs’ was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in 2019. Kaouther’s most recent movie, ‘The Man Who Sold His Skin’ won best screenplay in the Stockholm Film Festival 2020, and has been short listed for Best International Film in this year’s Oscars.

Mai Masri

This Palestinian filmmaker and director mostly makes documentaries that focus on the struggles of women and children in Palestine. She is one of the members of the class of 2020 for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. One of her best movies is ‘3000 Nights,’ which was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015.

Meryam Joobeur

Mostly famous for her short film ‘Brotherhood,’ the Tunisian-Canadian film director won the Toronto International Film Festival Award for Best Canadian Short Film. Another accomplishment for her was receiving an Oscar nomination for the same movie, and was also nominated for Best Live Action Short Film.

Nadine Labaki

This Lebanese actress and director is one of the best female Arab directors. Her filmmaking career started in 2007, and sometimes works alongside her husband, such as was the case for the movie ‘Capharnaüm.’ This movie is one of her most recognized works, gaining an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film of the year. In addition, it also received a BAFTA nomination for Best Film Not in the English Language, and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture in a Foreign Language.

WE SAID THIS: More on filmmaking…Women Of CIFF: The Actresses And Directors Who Highlighted This Year’s Festival