The Royal Film Commission - Jordan (RFC) brought together Rawi Fellows and international Creative Advisors to work closely for five days from September 2-6 on their features.
The 15th round of Rawi Screenwriters Lab concluded September 8. The Lab hosted seven established award-winning screenwriters (Creative Advisors) who arrived at the old town of Shobak in Jordan to advise selected Arab screenwriters (Rawi Fellows) about their feature-length screenplays.
The Royal Film Commission – Jordan (RFC) organised for both Fellows and Advisors to work together intensively for five days from September 2-6, and arranged for them to visit Petra after the lab’s activities concluded.
The Rawi team ensured an ambiance strictly dedicated to screenplay writing at Montreal Hotel – owned by Jordan Heritage Revival Company in Shobak – which generously hosted the 15th edition of Rawi Screenwriters Lab.
Commenting on this year’s Lab, Princess Rym Ali, Member of the RFC’s Board of Commissioners, said: “The scripts that will be developed here are all fictional stories. Nonetheless, they seem to represent, each in its own manner, how societies across our region face and try to overcome the challenges that politics, the economy and a deep-set culture of norms and values throw at them.”
Mohannad Al-Bakri, Managing Director of the RFC, emphasised the importance of the Lab describing it as a hub for Arab storytellers as he commented: “We believe in the power of the story. It all starts with a story and ends with a story. And there are so many examples of successful films in the Arab world, produced with very modest budgets, but that have been internationally acknowledged thanks to their storyline.”
The Creative Advisors for this year included Bernd Lichtenberg (Germany), Georges Hachem (Lebanon), James Jermanok (United States), Margaret Glover (United Kingdom), Nadia Eliewat (Jordan), Naji Abu Nowar (Jordan) and Pedro Peirano (Chile).
Naji Abu Nowar, co-writer and director of the Oscar-nominated Jordanian film Theeb, commented on his participation in the Lab saying “Rawi Screenwriters Lab is the most important initiative for developing cinematic talent in the MENA/Gulf region. When I attended as a fellow in the first lab of 2005 it changed my life. Now I volunteer as an advisor to help future generations. Thank you to Rawi for allowing me to participate in such an incredible experience.”
Selected projects and fellows for this year’s edition of Rawi are: 40 Years and One Night by Bashayer Abdulaziz Alsomali and Mohammed Alholayyil (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), Abu Bassam by Mohammad (Mike) Elsherif (Palestine), Bulletproof by Chamoun Issa (Lebanon), Five Thieves by Karim Ariqat and Mohammad Al-Nablsea (Jordan), I Am Here but You Can’t See Me by Feyrouz Serhal (Lebanon), Lanslide by May Al-Ghouti (Jordan) and Madness by Hicham Amal (Morocco).
Ever since its initiation in 2005, Rawi Screenwriters Lab has supported some of the most important new voices in Middle Eastern cinema. For its first 11 years, the lab was run in collaboration with Sundance Institute and is modeled on the Institute’s esteemed Screenwriters Lab. Over the years, the Lab has matured to the extent that it is now able to fly on its own. Currently, Rawi is autonomously managed by the Royal Film Commission – Jordan.
The RFC team has already begun planning for the 16th Rawi Screenwriters Lab as the Call for Applications for the upcoming round will be open on December 1, 2019.