Netflix has partnered with Sard, a dedicated hub for scriptwriters in the Arab world, to coach women in creative writing and help them to develop their storytelling and creative-expression skills through the latest in a series of Because She Created programs.
It is the latest development in an initiative launched last year as a virtual panel discussion to give female Arab filmmakers a chance to talk about the evolving role of women in the regional film industry. Netflix then teamed up with the Cairo International Film Festival for a second Because She Created event, which was a fireside chat with renowned Tunisian actress Hend Sabry.
In July this year, the company used the platform to present a specially curated collection of 21 Arab films designed to shine a light on the work of Arab women in film.
The writing program, which will take place in Cairo, is designed to provide an incubator for the untapped talents of 20 women from outside of the city and introduce them to the creative tools and industry insight they need to advance their creative and professional development.
“Sard believes that expressing oneself through writing is the first step to self-discovery and we’re proud to have discovered talent through this program that we feel will one day become the scriptwriters of the future,” said Mariam Naoum, the founder and CEO of Sard.
Although Egypt and the wider Arab world is “ripe with talent,” the region needs a “concerted effort and professional support” to help that local talent grow, she added.
“Women in the region, in particular, need this kind of incubation and technical support to gain access to opportunities that advance their professional growth in an industry where their presence is still limited,” said Naoum.
“Sard is trying to achieve this through the work we do and through partnerships with organizations like Netflix that help steer talent in the right direction.”
The five-day program will include storytelling classes, sessions on creative expression, and discussions and talks led by established professionals in the entertainment industry. It will also feature daily activities, including trips to the theater and cinema.
“At Netflix, we recognize that being part of the creative communities comes with responsibilities and that includes the need to develop the talent pipeline and give new voices a chance to be heard,” said Ahmed Sharkawi, director of Arabic series at the streaming service.
The company wants to create “more diverse content to ensure that women are represented both on screen and behind the camera,” he added, and “partnerships like this allow us to equip them with the skills they need to tell the best version of their stories.”
The Because She Created writing program is an initiative of the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity, which aims to create new opportunities for underrepresented communities within the entertainment industry through training and skills development.