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RAWI Middle East Screenwriters Lab

An initiative of the Royal Film Commission of Jordan, The RAWI Middle East Screenwriters Lab was created in conjunction with Sundance Institute's Feature Film Program to support emerging Middle Eastern filmmakers with their first or second feature films. Launched in 2005 and modeled on the Institute's January Screenwriters Lab, RAWI (Storyteller) provides an opportunity for screenwriters from the region to work intensively on their feature film screenplays under the guidance of established writers. The Lab is held annually in Wadi Feynan, Southern Jordan, and has supported filmmakers from Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia.

For information on how to apply for the RAWI Middle East Screenwriters Lab, please click here.

Alumni and Advisors

RAWI and Sundance Feature Film Program have supported over fifty Middle Eastern filmmakers in the past seven years alone. Many have gone on to receive critical acclaim for their projects.

The two first features to emerge from the Lab premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival: Pomegranates and Myrrh, written and directed by Najwa Najjar (Palestine) and Amreeka, written and directed by Cherien Dabis (Palestine / Jordan / U.S.). Dabis’s second feature film, May in the Summer, premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

More recently, 2009 RAWI alum Haifaa Al Mansour (Saudi Arabia) premiered her first feature Wadjda at the 2012 Venice Film Festival , where it was acquired for theatrical release in North America by Sony Pictures Classics.   Wadjda  is  the first feature film shot entirely in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the first ever by a Saudi female filmmaker.

Sally El Hosaini’s My Brother the Devil (Egypt) was developed in the 2008 RAWI Lab and 2009 Sundance Directors Lab and Screenwriters Lab. The film played at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, winning Best Cinematography and the Worldview / Sundance Impact Award. El Hosaini has received recognition around the world, including 2012 Berlinale and 2012 London BFI Film Festival.

From the 2007 Screenwriters Lab, Iraqi project Son of Babylon, co-written by Mohamed Al-Daradji and Jennifer Norridge and directed by Al-Daradji premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival was selected as Iraq’s official entry to the 83rd Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.

Press Release - Eight Projects Selected for 2012 Rawi Screenwriters Lab in Jordan

Creative Advisors for the RAWI Lab have included Michael Almereyda, Ronan Bennett, Henry Bean, Sarah Kernochan, Bernd Lichtenberg, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Rosemarie Troche, Scandar Cpoti, Jeremy Pikser, Yousri Nasrallah, Miguel Arteta, Kasi Lemmons, Karim Ainouz, Yesim Ustaoglu, and Nabil Ayouch.

Click here to read about all Advisors.