Eight Arab Narrative Film Projects at the 18th Rawi Screenwriters Lab

Dec 03, 2023

Amman, 3 December 2023

The 18th edition of Rawi Screenwriters Lab wrapped up last Wednesday 29th November, with the participation of eight Arab screenplay writers (Rawi Fellows), who worked intensively on developing their promising feature-length screenplays over five days. 

The Royal Film Commission – Jordan (RFC) organised this year’s Lab from the 24th until 29th of November at Wadi Feynan in the southwestern edge of the Dana Biosphere Reserve. The lab’s activities took place in a serene and inspiring ambiance, suitable for creativity and dialogue at Feynan Ecolodge.

Earlier on, the RFC had launched an open call for feature-length screenplays, from January until April, where 77 eligible applications were received. A committee of Creative Consultants carefully reviewed the submissions and selected the finalists after detailed evaluations and interviews.

The Lab hosted eight prominent screenwriters (Rawi’s Creative Advisors), from all around the world, to share their expertise and work closely with the selected Arab screenwriters in order unleash their utmost potential in screenplay writing.

Rawi’s Fellows and Advisors had intensive one-on-one meetings to look into the screenplays and polish their plot in order to tell stories in the most compelling way. 

Mohannad Al-Bakri, the RFC’s Managing Director, commented on this year’s Lab saying: “Over the past 17 editions, Rawi Screenwriters Lab has not only been a platform for nurturing emerging voices in the world of cinema but also a testament to the power of narratives that resonate deeply with our shared human experiences.” He added: “In light of recent events, we find ourselves in a region facing challenges that test the very fabric of our communities. We firmly believe that storytelling matters most precisely during such times. Through stories, we can shed light on the complexities of our world and, ultimately, work towards a more empathetic and understanding society.” 

The Creative Advisors for this year included: Ahmed Amer (Egypt), Bernd Lichtenberg (Germany), Csaba Bollok (Hungary), Giovanni Robbiano (Italy), Nawaf Al Janahi (UAE), Rola Nashef (USA), Margaret Glover (UK), and Yeşim Ustaoğlu (Turkey). 

Rola Nashef is a writer, director, producer, and multi-media artist shared: “Having been a fellow in 2007, RAWI was pivotal in the development of my first feature film, and it was an honor to come back as an advisor supporting the next generation of Arab filmmakers.”

While a writer-director Csaba Bollók, who has participated at Rawi as a Creative Advisor for the fourth time, added: “this was my fourth time at Rawi and my first time in Feynan Ecolodge. It’s a place with its own soler panels and self-sustained system. This is both a model for the world and for screenwriters and filmmakers; instead of waste, we must learn to get the most out of what we have, sometimes out of the least. It is not only possible, but it is the most economical way to live and work. A good script is like that; it relies on its own resources. Higher help is not our work but a blessing on our work.” 

Selected projects and fellows for this year’s edition of Rawi are: “Lost Love” by Abdullah AlMatrood (Saudi Arabia), “Unresolved Drama” by Eman ElNaggar (Egypt), “The Abyss” by Ghiath Al Mhitawi (Syria), “The Cornfield” by Mohamed Bouhari (Morocco), “Flood” by Rami Al-Shatari (Iraq), “Zeina’s Wedding” by Razan Takash (Jordan), “And Me Too” by Sondos Shabayek (Egypt), and “Oleander” by Wajdi Jhimi (Tunis).

About her participation in Rawi, Fellow Razan Takash said: “After hearing different views on my screenplay, from other fellows and the Creative Advisors who have gone through the same journey, all together have given me the freedom as a screenwriter not only to write but to think, plan, and explore countless paths that better serve the story I want to tell.”

Fellow Mohamed Bouhari also shared some of his thoughts on the Lab saying: “Screenwriting is an intimate and personal experience that can be a long and exhausting. My participation in Rawi Screenwriters Lab gave me the opportunity to see my story from different perspectives through discussing and listening to the opinions of a diverse and wide pool of Fellows and Advisors.” 

The Call for Applications for the upcoming round of Rawi Screenwriters Lab will be open early 2024.

About the Royal Film Commission – Jordan

The Royal Film Commission – Jordan (RFC) is a public institution, with administrative and financial autonomy, established in 2003 with a mandate to promote for and contribute to the development of an internationally competitive Jordanian audio-visual industry. The RFC organizes training workshops, screenings and provides production support services.

For any further information, please call: +962797557116