Netflix is throwing its weight behind female Arab filmmakers, teaming with the Lebanon-based Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) on a new grant.

The one-off grant of $250,000 — which comes via the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity, set up in 2021 to invest in underrepresented communities in the entertainment industry — will go to women producers and directors in the Arab world, with five projects shortlisted.

“We are committed to telling stories about and by women across our slate in the Arab world,” wrote Nuha el Tayeb, Netflix’s director of content acquisitions for MENA (Middle East and North Africa) and Turkey, in a blog post announcing the initiative. “The Arab world has a long-standing history of women in entertainment, and we’ve had incredible successes and firsts from the region that we’re all very proud of. But in order to give more people a chance to see their lives reflected on screen, we need more women behind and in front of the camera.”

Among the five filmmakers shortlisted are Asmae El Moudir (Morocco) with the documentary The Mother of All Lies, and, on the fiction side, Diala Kachmar (Lebanon) with From the Other Shore, Jana Wehbe (Lebanon) with The Day Vladimir Died, Tania Khoury (Lebanon) with Manity and Sarra Abidi (Tunisia) with My Name Is Clara.

The investment marks the second time Netflix has worked with the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture after setting up two hardship funds to help workers in the region during the coronavirus pandemic. The streamer has also recently backed shows, including Jordanian drama Al Rawabi School for Girls, created by Shirin Kamal and Tima Shomali, and Egyptian dramedy Finding Ola,  produced by Hind Sabri.

“More and more Arab women filmmakers are creating moving images that have the power to shed light on the realities of the region,” said AFAC executive director, Rima Mismar. “This second collaboration with Neftlix, this time to support women in the field of cinema, complements perfectly AFAC’s mission to promote diversity of voices and narratives.”

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