A new initiative to “give voice to the unique perspective of Arab women” has been launched as a partnership between the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (UCLA TFT) and the London-based Mohamed S. Farsi Foundation (MSFF).
As of Fall 2015, MSFF will offer three full-ride MFA scholarships for female Arab graduate students studying directing as part of the Hani Farsi Graduate Scholarship Fund. The Arab Women Filmmakers program seeks to “achieve greater representation of women, particularly Arab women, in the film industry.”
“Arab female directors have unique stories to tell and are, unfortunately, underrepresented in the entertainment industry,” notes a statement from the MSFF. “The few women who have told their stories have received critical acclaim for their films, including Lebanese director Nadine Labaki’s ‘Where Do We Go Now’; Saudi Arabia’s Haifaa Al-Mansour’s BAFTA nominated ‘Wadjda’; Egypt’s Jehane Noujaim’s Academy Award-nominated documentary ‘The Square’; and Jordanian director Cherien Dabis’s ‘May in the Summer.’ ‘The Square’ is the first Egyptian-made film to be nominated for an Oscar – and it was directed by an Arab woman.
“We want these scholarships to be a catalyst, to capture the imaginations of future filmmakers, and to inspire them to reach their goals,” said Hani Farsi, Chairman of the Mohamed S. Farsi Foundation.
Added Teri Schwartz, Dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, “We share Hani’s belief in the power of entertainment and performing arts education to give access and opportunity to an outstanding cohort of diverse new storytelling voices. With the Hani Farsi Scholarship Fund for the M.F.A. in Directing, we have the unique chance to nurture and empower an exciting new generation of extraordinary filmmakers — in this case, Arab women — who will make a difference in the world by illuminating and enriching our lives with a powerful array of new stories that might not have had a chance to be told if not for Hani’s generosity and transformational vision.”
“I’ve been very privileged to work in the USA, and there are incredible resources available in Los Angeles. To be able to have this scholarship gives women the potential to have one of the best film educations you can have in the world. If I was at the beginning of my career, I would jump at the opportunity. I hear there are some incredible winners, and I can’t wait to see the work that comes out of it,“ commented Noujaim.
This year’s scholarship recipients have already been chosen, but potential applicants interested in the program for future years can email firstname.lastname@example.org.