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17th Rawi Screenwriters Lab sees 8 narrative projects

By JT - Nov 30,2022 - Last updated at Nov 30,2022

Participants pose for a photo during the 17th edition of Rawi Screenwriters Lab in Wadi Feynan in the southwestern edge of the Dana Biosphere Reserve (Photo courtesy of RFC)

AMMAN — The 17th edition of Rawi Screenwriters Lab wrapped up on Wednesday 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 November 25 until 30 in 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, read a statement from the RFC.

Earlier on, the RFC had launched an open call for feature-length screenplays, from January until April, where 80 eligible applications were received. A committee of creative consultants 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 “to 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, said: “Rawi’s distinctiveness lies in empowering the voices of Fellows as storytellers, rather than tackling technical solutions within the craft. The stories emerge from the Fellows’ experiences and surroundings.” 

“The diversity of gender, background, filmmaking style and experience of the Creative Advisors is essential. The sense of responsibility, generosity, and input of Advisors towards Rawi’s Fellows are key factors to its success: We are grateful to them and value their contribution,” he added.

The Creative Advisors for this year included: Ahmed Amer (Egypt), Bernd Lichtenberg (Germany), Juliano Dornelles (Brazil), Margaret Glover (UK), Nadia Eliewat (Jordan), Sharon Doyle (US), Tonia Mishiali (Cyprus) and Yeşim Ustaoğlu (Turkey).

Juliano Dornelles, a filmmaker, production designer and screenwriter, said: “It’s been a great adventure to come here and meet with so many people to talk about cinema and learn about the stories of this region, which were pleasantly diverse and different, yet felt very familiar on the human level.”

Award-winning director Yeşim Ustaoğlu, who has participated at Rawi as a Creative Advisor for the second time, said: “Being in a deserted natural area teaches you so much and allows you to observe life differently. The projects I worked with were diverse in many aspects; the countries, stories, approaches, and levels but we all understood each other very well; I believe I was able to help the Fellows open up to new ideas and possibilities.”

Selected projects and fellows for this year’s edition of Rawi are: “Red Bus in Baghdad” by Ali Saeed (Iraq), “The Common Land” by Firas Taybeh (Jordan), “The Camp Beauty Queen” by Hanadi Elyan (Jordan), “Loris” by Mohamed Samir (Egypt), “Drowning” by Mujtaba Saeed (Saudi Arabia), “What’s Your Name” by Nour Almoujabber (Lebanon), “Mermaid Avenue” by Sharon Hakim (Egypt), “Jesus of Palestine” by Sohail Dahdal (Palestine).

About her participation in Rawi, Fellow Hanadi Elyan, said: “All the Creative Advisors were interested in helping me to make my project work in my own way without imposing their opinions or styles. I also found that watching the films of other Fellows and discussing them was beneficial.”

Fellow Mujtaba Said also shared some of his thoughts on the Lab, saying: “The nature of the place and its isolation played a role in the success of the Lab but curating a professional programme and a safe environment with freedom of expression had the greatest role. Rawi is a unique and rich experience that I recommend to all Arab writers and filmmakers.”

The call for applications for the upcoming round of Rawi Screenwriters Lab will be open early 2023.


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