Meet the Fellows

Introducing the 2019 class of Global Media Makers Fellows

View previous Global Media Makers Fellows:
2016 | 2017 | 2018

In 2019 – the fourth year of Global Media Makers – 18 film, television and new media makers were selected as participants from countries in the Arab world and South Asia. These GMM Fellows traveled to LA for a six-week residency which included filmmaker education, business training and professional networking opportunities.

Additionally, Fellows participated in intensive filmmaking labs focused on screenwriting, documentary, directing and creative producing in which, with a team of U.S. mentors, they advanced projects currently in development. Mentorship continues remotely through 2020.

GMM is supported through a partnership between Film Independent and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Anam Abbas


Project Title: Showgirls of Pakistan
Project Type: Documentary Feature
Logline: Burlesque dancers in Pakistan dodge state censors, jealousies and violent fans as they vie for stardom and survival in this never before accessed look into the world of “mujra.”

Anam Abbas (producer/cinematographer) runs Other Memory Media in Pakistan and Zunn Productions in Canada. She is a Locarno Open Doors 2017 alumni and Berlinale Talents 2018 fellow. She is a founding member of the Documentary Association of Pakistan. Her latest fiction short Saya will be in competition at the Chicago International Film Festival this year. Her latest documentary feature as director, Akeli Awara Azad (American Film showcase doc development lab), follows the feminist movement in Pakistan and goes into production in November. She is also the creator of web series Ladies Only and part of the angry-girl band Garam Andy.

Lara Abou Saifan


Project Title: Tide
Project Type: Fiction Feature
Logline: A Palestinian-Lebanese couple loses their child and learns his body will only be released if they can find a spot in a Palestinian cemetery in Lebanon to bury him.

Lara Abou Saifan is an independent producer based in Beirut, Lebanon. Her work as a producer, line producer and production manager has premiered and received awards at festivals worldwide, including Locarno, Rotterdam, Edinburgh, Busan, Dubai, Sheffield Doc Fest, Lebanese Int’l. Film Festival and others. She has major regional and international credits from TV networks including Al Jazeera, MBC, BBC and the Sundance Channel. Lara founded Placeless Films with writer/director Niam Itani to produce, co-produce and line produce documentaries, narratives and shorts. She is currently in development for her next project, Tide, a feature narrative by Hussein Ibrahim.

Triparna Banerjee


Project Title: Riding on the Moon Boat
Project Type: Fiction Feature
Logline: An adolescent girl from an underprivileged community struggles to flourish against the odds as her father is shunned by the majority of the village for engaging in a blasphemous act.

Triparna Banerjee is an Indian screenwriter who started her career writing for Sesame Street India. She was the film festival liaison for Shivajee Chandrabhushan’s debut feature Frozen. The film went to 35 international film festivals, won 20 international awards and two national awards. She is the cowriter of The Untold Tale, the first Indian feature to be selected for L’atelier du Cinéfondation at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. She works as Head of Script acquisition at CITOC Motion Pictures and is a consulting script writer for SVF Entertainment. She is currently developing her next project, Riding on the Moon Boat.

Min Bahadur Bham


Project Title: A Year of Cold
Project Type: Fiction Feature
Logline: A pregnant woman must journey deep into the remote, harsh Himalayas with her monk brother-in-law to search for her missing husband and give her child an identity.

Min Bahadur Bham (writer/director) is a Nepal-based filmmaker. His short film The Flute (2012) was the first Nepalese film presented at the Venice Film Festival and his directorial feature debut, The Black Hen (2015), was the first Nepalese feature film presented at Venice Critics Week, where it was awarded Best Film. The Black Hen was also Nepal’s official entry to the 2016 Academy Awards, in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Through his production company, Shooney Films, he has produced short and feature length films which have screened at numerous international film festivals. He is currently in development on his next project, A Year of Cold.

Nawa Nidhi Dahal


Project Title: The Land of Ancestors
Project Type: Fiction Feature
Logline: An elderly shepherd living in the Himalayas is confronted with nightmarish visions of his own death and must find his successor before he draws his last breath.

Nawa Nidhi Dahal is an independent film producer based in Nepal. He received his B.A. in Film Studies in 2014 and started producing student films under his production company, Simal Cinema. In 2016 he produced Sunil Pandey’s The Eternal Journey, which went on to win many festival awards. His latest producing effort, The Remains (2018), is currently on the festival circuit, including the Tampere Film Festival. He is an alum of the Locarno Open Doors Lab, Produire Au Sud Workshop and the Busan Asian Film School. He is currently developing Manoj Babu Panta’s debut feature The Land of Ancestors.

Shazia Iqbal


Project Title: Blood Circle
Project Type: Fiction Feature
Logline: An anthology of stories set in Mumbai that explores the vicious circle of oppression that transforms a human from prey to predator.

Shazia Iqbal (writer/director) is an Indian production designer and filmmaker. Her debut short film, Bebaak (2018), has won multiple awards including the Audience Choice Award at Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, Best Actor at Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia (Tokyo) and Jury Special Mention at the International Documentary and Shorts Film Festival of Kerala. It is the only Indian film selected for the international program at the 2019 Sao Paulo International Short Film Festival. Iqbal is the lead production designer for India’s first original Netflix series, Sacred Games and she is currently developing her next project, Blood Circle.

Nishtha Jain


Project Title: The Golden Thread
Project Type: Documentary Feature
Logline: In India’s aging jute mills, harsh working conditions coexist with hopes for their ecological revival. Featuring interrogating filmmaking alongside industrial labor, the film muses on the nature and future of work.

Nishtha Jain (director) is an independent filmmaker based in Mumbai, India. From her first film, City of Photos (2004) to the recent Proof (2019), she explores the human condition with empathy and artistry. The politics of image-making, the complexities of social hierarchies, women’s movements, and the lives and struggles of workers are some of the themes her films have dealt with. Her films have screened extensively at international film festivals and arthouse cinemas and have been broadcast on international TV networks. A winner of numerous international film awards, Jain is currently developing her next project, The Golden Thread.

Oğuz Kaynak


Project Title: The Disappeared
Project Type: Fiction Feature
Logline: When men begin to mysteriously disappear in a traditional Turkish neighborhood, panic ensues, gender roles are reversed, and an abused housewife finds empowerment.

Oğuz Kaynak (writer/director) is a Turkish independent producer/filmmaker with a background in sound mixing and design. He is a co-founder of the production company Giyotin Film and has worked as a producer and sound designer since 2007. His film, The Impeccables (2013), won Best Film and Best Director at national festivals. His most recent film, Siren’s Call (2018), premiered in the international competition at the Tokyo Film Festival. He is currently in development on his next feature project, The Disappeared; in production on a documentary about Argentinian guitarist Ricardo Moyano; and developing additional documentary projects featuring musicians.

Abdulrahman Khawj

Saudi Arabia

Project Title: 40 Years and One Night
Project Type: Fiction Feature
Logline: On the eve of the Eid holiday, seven Saudi Arabian siblings discover their father has secretly been married to another woman and struggle to keep the secret from their mother.

Abdulrahman Khawj is a Saudi Arabian screenwriter, director and producer whose screenplays were semifinalists for the Sundance Screenwriting Lab and shortlisted for the Hubert Bals Fund. Abdulrahman has directed and produced two Saudi Arabian feature films: The Great Muse (2018) and The Physical Properties of Coffee (2020). His last co-produced short First Feature (2019) had its European premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and Last Visit (2019), the feature film he co-produced, premiered at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. He is currently developing his third feature, 40 Years and One Night, which was a finalist at the Rawi Screenwriting Lab.

Zeynep Koray


Project Title: Empire of the Rabbits
Project Type: Fiction Feature
Logline: In rural Turkey, a 12-year-old boy struggles with morality and authority after his father forces him to pretend to be disabled in order to receive a stipend from the state.

Zeynep Koray (producer) is a Turkish independent filmmaker. In 2009 she co-founded the production company Kulefilm where she produced and directed both documentaries and television programming. She co-produced The Particle (2012) by Erdem Tepegöz and The Pigeon (2018) by Banu Sivaci. She founded ZK Films in 2019 and is currently developing The Soloist by Banu Sivaci and Güneş by director Nejla Demirci – both of which were awarded at the Meetings on the Bridge in 2019 – and Empire of the Rabbits by Seyfettin Tokmak, which won the TRT Co-Production Award in 2019.

Miriam Chandy Menacherry


Project Title: From the Shadows…
Project Type: Documentary Feature

Miriam Chandy Menacherry (director) is an filmmaker and journalist based in India. She is the founder and director of Filament Pictures. She has directed series and films for BBC World and the National Geographic Channel. Her recent film, Lyari Notes, was an Indo-Pak co-production with other GMM Fellow Maheen Zia and was nominated by the AWFEJ for contribution of women directors to documentary filmmaking. Her other work, The Rat Race, won the Mipdoc Co-Production Challenge at Cannes, premiered at IDFA and won audience awards at Florence and Kerala. She is currently working on her latest documentary, From the Shadows…

Bikas Mishra


Project Title: Testimony
Project Type: Fiction Feature
Logline: When a powerful religious Guru is accused of rape, a rookie female detective must identify the Guru’s anonymous accuser and convince her to testify in court.

Bikas Mishra (writer/director) is an Indian independent filmmaker. His debut feature Chauranga won the Grand Jury Prize at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (2015) and was declared Best Indian Feature at the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival (2014). His short film Naach Ganesh (Dance of Ganesha) travelled widely to prestigious festivals including Clermont Ferrand (France), Rotterdam (The Netherlands), Busan (South Korea) and IFFLA (Los Angeles). He is currently in development on his next project, Testimony.

Sanjeewa Pushpakumara

Sri Lanka

Project Title: Amma (Mother)
Project Type: Fiction Feature
Logline: Two mothers from opposite sides of the Sri Lankan civil war must unite as they embark upon a campaign to find out the truth about their missing sons.

Sanjeewa Pushpakumara (writer/director) is an independent filmmaker from Sri Lanka. His first feature film, Flying Fish, had its world premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and was nominated for the Tiger Award. In 2012, Sanjeewa was invited to Paris by Cinéfondation of Cannes Film Festival to develop his second film, Burning Birds, which received support from Doha Film Institute, Hubert Bals Fund and Cinema du Monde, and premiered in the 2016 New Currents competition of BIFF. He is currently in development on his next project Amma (Mother), which won the main prize at the 2018 Locarno Film Festival Open Doors Co-Production Market.

Arifur Rahman


Project Title: Paradise
Project Type: Fiction Feature
Logline: On an isolated island off the coast of Bangladesh, a Muslim teenager’s duty and faith are tested when he befriends another island boy.

Arifur Rahman (producer) is a Bangladeshi independent filmmaker. He has produced critically acclaimed features including Kingdom of Clay Subjects and Live from Dhaka. His projects have been featured at many international film festivals including Berlin, Venice, Seattle, Rotterdam, Locarno, Singapore and Shanghai, as well as Cinequest and Sheffield Doc Fest. Along with narrative fiction films, he is an active documentary filmmaker. He has produced documentary shows in collaboration with BBC, Scottish Documentary Institute, Bangladesh Documentary Council and NHK TV. Currently he is developing his next feature, Paradise.

Subina Shrestha


Project Title: War By Other Means
Project Type: Documentary Feature
Logline: A remote Himalayan community’s fault lines are exposed during a local election where one man decides to win, no matter the moral compromise.

Subina Shrestha is a Nepali director, producer and journalist. In over two decades as a filmmaker and journalist she has explored politics and the democratic experience in Nepal and numerous other Asian countries, including covering three national Nepalese elections since 2008. In 2016 she studied the democratic process as a Neiman Fellow at Harvard University. Throughout her broad portfolio of work she has explored questions of gender. Her most recent project, War By Other Means, takes an in-depth look at the male-dominated world of local Nepali politics.

Rezwan Shahriar Sumit


Project Title: A New Prophet
Project Type: Fiction Feature
Logline: A young tech genius finds his life stuck in limbo between heaven and hell when he tries to bring his broken family together using virtual reality.

Rezwan Shahriar Sumit (writer/director) was born and raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s boisterous capital city. His first short, CityLife (2008), earned him a place at Berlinale Talents as an up-and-coming director. Since then, he has produced many short films that have traveled to NYFF, AFI Fest, Aspen, Copenhagen and Kurzfilmtage Winterthur. In 2012, he attended NYU’s Graduate Film Program. He is in post-production on his first feature, The Salt in Our Waters, which was awarded France’s CNC Aide aux cinémas du monde and a writing grant by Spike Lee. His second project, A New Prophet, won a $100K Sloan Foundation production grant.

Christo Tomy


Project Title: Undercurrent
Project Type: Fiction Feature
Logline: During floods, a pregnant widow, who waits for her unloving husband’s funeral, lies that she is carrying his child to escape her family’s wrath and reunite with her secret lover.

Christo Tomy (writer/director) is an Indian independent filmmaker. He has won Best Direction and Best Debut Film in the non-feature section of the 63rd and 61st National Film Awards, respectively. He was a member of the jury for non-feature films at the 65th National Film Awards. His short films, Sweetheart and Virgin, have won many awards and screened at international film festivals including Toronto, Los Angeles and Warsaw. His next project, Undercurrent, won the Cinestaan India’s Storytellers Script Contest and was also part of the 2017 NFDC Screenwriters Lab and the 2018 NFDC Co-Production Market Film Bazaar.

Maheen Zia


Project Title: Then They Would Be Gone
Project Type: Documentary Feature
Logline: Amidst wheat fields, a carnival world appears – an ephemeral city. We enter this space, traversing through the heart of Pakistan with three nomadic artist families as sacred meets profane.

Maheen Zia (director) is a Karachi-based filmmaker. Her short fiction film Match Factor was the 2008 Berlin Today Award winner. Her documentary work has aired on Al Jazeera, Nat Geo and NHK. In 2015, her first feature-length documentary Lyari Notes, which she made with Miriam Chandy Menacherry, world premiered at IDFA. She is a founding member of the KaraFilm Society and has also served as an international jury member for many festivals, including the Tampere Film Festival, Dhaka International Film Festival and Fajr International Film Festival. She is currently developing her next project, Then They Would Be Gone.