Female artists and filmmakers from across the Middle East and North Africa will come together on Saturday to bridge cultural and religious divides through storytelling.
The Women Creating Change (WCC) launch event, which will be held at Los Angeles City College, will bring together women from across the region for a panel conversation featuring prominent Middle Eastern and North African filmmakers, one-on-one networking session with women from the industry and a screening of the award-winning documentary short “Women in Sink” from Israeli director Iris Zaki.
“The three goals we’re working toward are empowering women, creating a community for the Middle Eastern and North African filmmakers all over the world, and then also to bridge the divisiveness of that community,” Founder Lee Broda said in an interview with TheWrap.
“Just having everyone in one room — or even just on one panel — shows what we’re trying to achieve,” she continued. “Which is just getting everyone together and building a community, so that people know we exist, and so we can focus on what brings us together and not what divides us, [and find] the common ground, not just in our passion for the arts, but also as women.”
Broda said she expects about 100 people to attend Saturday’s event, with filmmaker Iram Parveen Bilal; producer, actress and writer Noa Tishby; and actress Azita Ghanizada among those confirmed to speak.
“As someone who grew up in the Middle East but have lived in the U.S. for over 13 years, I have always felt an ambassador for Arab women who have been portrayed a certain way in the film industry because of misconceptions,” said director of programming Lobna Hassairi, who is from Tunisia. “WCC was created to challenge these misconceptions while building a community of female storytellers. We have designed an exciting and unique program that will have long-term benefits for our participants.”
“This initiative is unique as it sheds light on women empowerment in Hollywood while bridging communities and promoting collaborations between female storytellers from different background, specifically from the MENA region,” she continued. “WCC was founded to create opportunities for women to work together in a male-dominated industry. This launch event is just the beginning.”
“[This initiative] is important because it’s bringing diverse women together from different walks of life and backgrounds,” added events coordinator Lydia Khoury. “It’s about supporting women from the Middle East and North Africa helping challenge stereotypes of women from that part of the world and creating opportunities to help breakthrough in the entertainment industry into Hollywood and also an opportunity to work with more women.”