NYWIFT Co-presents with Royal Film Commission of Jordan, and Women in Film and Television – GCC: A Conversation About Women Storytellers from the Arab World

Join New York Women in Film & Television at Cannes Film Festival!

In partnership with The Royal Film Commission – Jordan and Women in Film and Television – GCC for a “Conversation About Women Storytellers from the Arab World”.

Speakers include: Cynthia Lopez (NYWIFT CEO), Rula Nasser (The Imaginarium Films), Mira Nimri (RFC – Jordan), Nancy Paton (President of Women in Film GCC), Alessandra Speciale (Venice International Film Festival), and filmmakers Luma Al-HamarnehSonia Ben Slama, and Sofia Djama.
Moderated by Melanie Goodfellow (Senior International Film Correspondent at Deadline).

DATE: Wednesday, May 23, 2023

TIME: 11am – 12:30pm, Central European Time (CET)

LOCATION: Plage Ondine, 64 Boulevard de la Croisette, 06400 Cannes (near The Carlton Hotel)





Luma Al-Hamarneh is an accomplished film producer known for her notable work in the industry. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Filmmaking with first-class honours from Middlesex University, she brings a strong foundation in film theory and production techniques to her projects.
Luma’s talent and dedication have earned her widespread recognition, with the most recent film she produced, ‘The Red Sea Makes Me Wanna Cry,’ set to premiere at the Director’s Fortnight, a prestigious part of the Cannes Film Festival. This remarkable achievement places her among the select few Jordanian filmmakers to showcase their work at Cannes, highlighting her significant contributions to the industry.
Driven by a collaborative approach and a passion for diverse narratives, Luma’s captivating and thought-provoking films resonate with audiences worldwide, leaving a lasting impact.

Sonia Ben Slama is a French-Tunisian documentary filmmaker. She grew up in Paris where she studied art and cinema. In 2015, she directed in Tunisia her first feature documentary Maktoub. Machtat, her second feature documentary, explores similar themes from a different angle. The film is premiering in the International Competition at Visions du Réel Film Festival 2023. It’s also part of the ACID Cannes 2023 program. Sonia is currently developing a new feature-length documentary project, 316 North Main Street, shot in the United States.

Sofia Djama is an Algerian screenwriter and director. In 2011, she wrote and directed her first short films including Mollement un samedi matin, which won two prizes at the Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Festival. Her first feature, Les Bienheureux (The Blessed), premiered at the Venice Film Festival where it won the best actress for Lyna Khoudri who was then nominated for Best Actress at the French Césars 2018 with her co-star Adam Bessa. The film went on to win awards at Dubai, Namur, Cinemed, Minneapolis, Geneva, Russia, Tunisia, Rwanda. In 2018 Sofia was named one of 10 best female directors in the Arab world. Currently, Sofia is in pre-production with her next feature film, A Quarter to Thursday and is developing film projects and TV series. She has been jury member of several festivals including Venice and Cairo Film Festivals. 

Cynthia López is the CEO | Executive Director at New York Women Film and Television. An award-winning media strategist, and former Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, where she implemented strategies to support film and TV production throughout the five boroughs. López is the recipient of many coveted industry awards including: 11 News and Documentary Emmy Awards, a Special Emmy Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking, three Peabody Awards, and two duPont-Columbia Awards. Her ability to forge strategic partnerships among corporate and public interest media has been a signature of her work. Notable partnerships include: New York Times, Reuters, Al-Jazeera Network, Discovery Communications, The Moth, Story Corps, Harpo Studios and ABC News, NIGHTLINE with Ted Koppel. López is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) and is proud to have spent her career collaborating with independent filmmakers across all portions of the film and television industry. She served on the Board of Trustees for the Paley Center, NYC & Company, Museum of the Moving Image, and the Tribeca Film Institute Latin America Fund Advisory Board. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Latino Public Broadcasting, Hunter College Board of Trustees, and the Color Congress.

Rula Nasser is an Independent Jordanian producer with an accumulated experience in different aspects of production. Started with the BBC and Discovery Channel projects in the Middle East, a journey that contained self-exploration of local stories and talents across Jordan, she joined Royal Film Commission in 2005 for developing the Filmmaker’s Support Program.
Her first Jordanian film TRANSIT CITIES by Mo Hushki, was the start of a new independent cinema wave in Jordan and the region, In 2011, she established “THE IMAGINARIUM FILMS” focused on discovering talents and with an aim to creating original audio-visual content that is captivating to audiences regionally and internationally. Over the years, The Imaginarium Films developed, produced & line produced many award winning independent genuine films locally and internationally & teamed up with many European and regional producers around the world. Her latest films were “The Alleys” by Bassel Ghandour from Jordan that premiered at Locarco film festival 2021, “The Holly spider ” by Ali Abbasi that was nominated for Palme d’Or 2021 and won the best actress, and Rebel by Adil El Arabi and Bilal Fallah premiered in the midnight section at Cannes 2022.

Mira Nimri is the Fundraising and Programs Supervisor at the Royal Film Commission – Jordan (RFC). She joined – RFC in 2018 and coordinated many filmmaking training programs for aspiring youth in Jordan. She is currently responsible for securing local and international partners to support the Commission’s initiatives in the capacity building department.
Mira was selected for the MEMI Screenwriting Program in partnership with the University of Southern California (USC) in 2021 where she developed her TV project “Work In Progress” and pitched it at the Cairo International Film Festival. She also participated in Cinephilia Film Development Workroom and Cinephilia Advanced Lab.
Mira holds a Master’s degree in Development and International Cooperation and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Nancy Paton is the Founder of Desert Rose Films.  A multi-award-winning director, screenwriter and producer, Nancy Paton’s prosperous career has seen her work across Sydney, New York, London and the Gulf. In 2013, she relocated to Riyadh where she taught digital photography, screenwriting and storyboarding to Saudi female students at Raffles Design Institute. Tirelessly committed to developing Saudi Arabia’s female talents, she also ran ‘underground’ filmmaking workshops and recruited all-female amateur crews for her award-winning film, Postpartum, music videos and short documentaries The Black Abaya and Nowell’s MissionNancy founded the ground- breaking, female-focused production company Desert Rose Films, that is renowned for its dynamic, compelling, female-led films. In 2022 she became President of Women in Film & TV Gulf. 

Since 2013 Alessandra Speciale has been a member of the official selection team of Venice International Film Festival and curator of the industry project Final cut in Venice, a workshop to support African and Arab films in post-production. She has also been the artistic director of the African, Asian and Latin America Film Festival of Milan, Italy since 1991. With the Association COE she has distributed more than 200 films in the Italian alternative circuits. She has been the President of Milano Film Network since 2016, she also founded the Milano Industry Days, the professional meetings of Italian independent cinema in Milan.

Melanie Goodfellow (Moderator) is Senior International Film Correspondent at Deadline Magazine. She is a freelance writer and journalist specializing in the international film and TV industry. She recently worked for the film trade magazine Screen International covering France and the Middle East and regularly collaborates on the publications of film festivals and organizations around the world. Prior to her tenure at Screen, she worked for trades including Variety and Moving Pictures and also contributed to publications such as The Independent. She originally trained in journalism at news agency Reuters and spent four years there in the mid-90s working as a reporter in London and Rome.


Co-Presented by:

May 23 @ 11:00am
11:00 am — 12:30 pm (1h 30′)

Plage Ondine
64 Boulevard de la Croisette
06400 Cannes



Join the conversation on social media:
#nywift | @nywift

NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.