Nurturing Filmmakers of Tomorrow through a Collaborative Endeavor

The Beirut Film Center (BFC) is thrilled to announce an exciting collaboration with renowned Swiss director and screenwriter Ayten Mutlu Saray for our upcoming feature film project titled “Iyaan.” This collaboration marks a significant milestone in our mission to empower the next generation of filmmakers and redefine the way we teach the art of cinema.

At BFC, we believe in the power of collaboration as a transformative learning experience. “Iyaan” will be conducted as part of our masterclass hands-on series of workshops, designed to immerse students into real-life film projects. This collaboration is of paramount importance for several reasons.

“Iyaan” offers our students a unique opportunity to step into the vibrant world of filmmaking. This practical experience allows them to witness, firsthand, the entire process from pre-production to post-production, bridging the gap between theory and practice. Our educational philosophy is built on the premise that nothing teaches better than hands-on experience. By actively participating in “Iyaan,” our students will apply the knowledge acquired in our classrooms to a real production, honing their skills and building their confidence.

Collaboration also opens doors to networking within the industry. Through “Iyaan,” our students will connect with seasoned professionals, expanding their industry contacts and creating potential pathways to future opportunities. Filmmaking demands creative problem-solving, and the challenges encountered during “Iyaan” will encourage our students to think creatively, adapt to unforeseen circumstances, and find innovative solutions—a vital aspect of becoming successful filmmakers.

We are privileged to collaborate with Ayten Mutlu Saray on this film with our students. Her wealth of expertise, guidance, and feedback will be instrumental in nurturing our students’ growth as filmmakers. This collaboration aligns seamlessly with our mission to challenge societal norms and enhance the human condition through the medium of film.

By providing our students with a holistic and immersive learning experience, we are confident that they will emerge as not only technically proficient filmmakers but also as creative storytellers who can make a meaningful impact on the world. The Beirut Film Center extends its heartfelt gratitude to Ayten Mutlu Saray for her dedication to this project. We are excited to embark on this cinematic journey together and look forward to the inspiring stories that “Iyaan” will bring to life.


Harmonizing Creativity: A Tale of Transformation from Strangers to Collaborators at the Beirut Film Center

In the heart of Beirut, a profound transformation story unfolded—a journey that melded creativity, teamwork, and the unbridled spirit of filmmaking. Over a mere span of two weeks, 14 individuals, spanning ages from 16 to 40, embarked on an odyssey that seamlessly evolved them from strangers into a tightly knit ensemble of confident filmmakers. This remarkable feat, nurtured by the visionary initiative of the Beirut Film Center (BFC), not only illuminates the power of creativity but also underlines the extraordinary potential of collaboration and the synergy it sparks.

Photo by Zeina El Zomor

Standing at the crossroads of imagination and technique, the BFC’s Basic Filmmaking BootCamp ignited a spark within these aspiring filmmakers. With minimal prior experience as their canvas, the students delved into an intensive, two-week experience designed to illuminate the myriad facets of cinematic creation.

Guided by expert mentors, these participants embarked on a quest to decode the intricate art of storytelling—a quest that ignited bonds and a shared sense of purpose. From the very outset, the workshop was engineered to cultivate the concept of collaborative filmmaking—a reminder that filmmaking, despite its necessary hierarchy on set, thrives on the power of collective effort.

Photo by Zeina El Zomor

Their journey reached its crescendo as they transitioned from theory to tangible practice. Their challenge? To craft a short film within the span of four days that included technical training on Camera, Lights, and Sound, but also on storytelling, which started on day one, upon which the participants crafted a screenplay. They came up with a very interesting idea and evolved it.

Drawing inspiration from their imagined world—an AI-dominated art scene where machines dictated creative expression—their collective creativity took on a life of its own. In this dystopian realm, artistic creation was no longer the realm of human endeavor, leaving Anna and Isabel, the protagonists of their tale, grappling with the limitations of their existence.

Anna and Isabel’s journey reflected the very essence of the human spirit as they engaged in a heated debate during their visit to an AI-generated art exhibit. This exchange became the foundation of their script, encapsulating their existential dilemma in the face of an art world controlled by artificial intelligence. The poignant narrative explored themes of artistic autonomy, the essence of human creativity, and the potential consequences of relinquishing human agency to machines.

Watch the film that the participants produced. And do please note the subtext of the story.

As the days progressed, they skillfully interwove plotlines, dialogues, and emotions, fashioning a screenplay that would serve as the foundation for their short film. It wasn’t just about the words on paper; it stood as a living testament to their growth, their prowess in crafting a narrative that reached beyond the mere story they were telling. Throughout this journey, the script continued to evolve in sync with the passing days, each fleeting moment contributing to its refinement.

In a remarkable synchrony, even the sound design echoed the very essence of Beirut’s daily symphony, capturing the cacophony of the city’s life. These auditory tapestries, meticulously woven, breathed life into the film’s universe, creating an authentic tapestry of sound that mirrored the city’s vibrant heartbeat.

Their creation showcased their prowess in translating theory into practical storytelling—a feat that underscored the central theme of their own journey: the fusion of knowledge, collaboration, and the potential to mold creative visions into cinematic reality.

This script became the compass that guided their artistic expedition, as they navigated the complexities of shooting, editing, and post-production. Their narrative journey mirrored their personal one—a transformation from unfamiliarity to empowerment, underlining the transformative potency of artistic exploration within a nurturing and collaborative space.

Photo by Zeina El Zomor

Beyond the screen, this achievement reverberated with lasting echoes. The Beirut Film Center’s mission to ignite and nurture creative flames has achieved a palpable victory as these students blossom into accomplished filmmakers. Their story is a living testament to the power of unity, camaraderie, and the transformative impact of education.

Photo by Zeina El Zomor

The triumph of this workshop is but a prelude to the vibrant tapestry the BFC aims to weave. While the short film stands as a remarkable testament, the journey it symbolizes is just beginning. The Beirut Film Center, a beacon of innovation and nurturer of imagination, is scripting new chapters in its legacy.

In a world where dreams are nurtured through collective effort, the journey of these students transcends the realm of filmmaking—it’s a tribute to the power of unity, the harmony of theory and practice, and the resolute spirit of exploration. As the Beirut Film Center’s legacy unfolds, their story becomes an anthem to redefine the very boundaries of what is achievable.

Photo by Zeina El Zomor

Watching the students evolve together and support each other was wonderful. During filming, roles rotated seamlessly, and students transferred their expertise to one another. Looking ahead, the BFC envisions more bootcamps, advanced workshops, and master classes. What sets the BFC apart is its immersive approach. We expose students to real-life projects, fostering a safe space to learn from mistakes and feel a sense of accomplishment.

Photo by Zeina El Zomor
Photo by Zeina El Zomor
Photo by Zeina El Zomor
Photo by Zeina El Zomor

Embracing Multidisciplinarity: A Joyful Journey of a Dyslexic Filmmaker

Welcome to the colorful world of a dyslexic filmmaker, where joy and passion fuel a multidimensional journey. In a world that often emphasizes specialization, I’ve found that embracing diverse interests has been a source of inspiration and personal growth. Join me as we delve into a story that exemplifies the joy of mastering multiple trades and advocating for positive change, all while remaining humble and grateful for the opportunities life has offered.

You might find it intriguing, but my creative spirit thrives on just four hours of sleep each night. This lifestyle choice grants me ample time to explore my myriad passions as a filmmaker, chef, artist, and more. It’s a remarkable journey where every moment counts, and I feel blessed to have the chance to experience so much joy and fulfillment in my various endeavors.

In a world that sometimes dismisses generalists, I’ve discovered that embracing a diverse skill set can be a delightful and rewarding path. Rather than being a “jack of all trades, master of none,” I’ve found that each discipline I pursue enriches the others, contributing to a unique and fulfilling creative journey. My joy is in discovering new connections and possibilities across these varied fields.

As a filmmaker with a heart for social justice, human rights, youth empowerment, feminism, and environmental causes, I strive to create works that touch hearts and inspire positive change. My films are more than just storytelling; they are a celebration of humanity and a call for a better world. The joy I find in filmmaking comes from the potential to impact lives and contribute to meaningful discussions.

Throughout my life, I’ve had the privilege of co-founding various initiatives, working with like-minded individuals who share a passion for positive change. From humble beginnings with environment and astronomy clubs during my high school days to the founding of 99%Media, a media group committed to social justice, each endeavor has been fueled by the joy of collaboration and collective impact.

In 2023, I had the honor of co-founding the Beirut Film Center with Mazen Hachem from Solo Films, an endeavor that fills my heart with pride. It’s an artistic space that brings together my love for filmmaking and my dedication to making a difference. Despite facing challenges, the joy of working towards a common purpose with passionate individuals makes every effort worthwhile.

In a world that often values specialization, my journey as a multidisciplinary dyslexic filmmaker has taught me the beauty of embracing diverse interests and causes. Through joyful exploration and humble collaboration, I’ve discovered that the pursuit of mastery in multiple disciplines is a source of immense fulfillment and personal growth. Let this tale be a reminder that with passion, dedication, and a spirit of humility, we can create a positive impact in the world while finding joy in every step of our journey.


Empowering Voices through Filmmaking: Challenging Societal Norms in Lebanon and Beyond

Filmmaking is an extraordinary art form that transcends borders, providing young minds with a medium to express their unique perspectives on the world. By understanding the cinematic language of storytelling, young people can challenge societal norms that have long perpetuated harmful ideologies. This article delves into the significance of teaching filmmaking to the youth, with a specific focus on Lebanon, where the film and media industry has often unwittingly reinforced traditional patriarchal values, toxic masculinity, homophobia, and a sense of “othering.”

Teaching filmmaking to young adults holds a deeply personal significance for me, resonating with the essence of this article. As an advocate for creative expression and social change, I firmly believe in the power of cinema to challenge societal norms and foster a more inclusive world. Witnessing young minds engage with the cinematic language of storytelling and break free from oppressive narratives fills me with hope for a brighter future.

Empowering these budding filmmakers to amplify diverse voices, challenge harmful ideologies, and craft narratives that promote empathy and understanding brings a sense of purpose to my work. In the context of Lebanon, where traditional norms have often hindered progress, guiding young individuals to use filmmaking as a tool for positive transformation feels like a small step towards a more compassionate and accepting society, where every story matters, and every voice finds its place.

By mastering the language of filmmaking, young creators can challenge conventional perspectives and offer fresh insights. This fosters diversity of thought and representation, amplifying voices that have long been marginalized and silenced in society. By presenting diverse narratives, filmmakers can break down stereotypes and promote inclusivity, ultimately leading to a more accepting and compassionate society. Additionally, films possess a unique ability to evoke empathy in viewers, transporting them into the lives and experiences of characters. By depicting authentic perspectives, young filmmakers can help their audience develop a deeper understanding of others’ lives and struggles. This empathy is crucial for breaking down the barriers that perpetuate harmful social norms.

Through authentic storytelling, filmmakers can debunk gender stereotypes and redefine masculinity, emphasizing emotional intelligence, vulnerability, and empathy. Moreover, by including LGBTQ+ narratives and characters, they can challenge homophobia and foster a more accepting environment in Lebanon and beyond. Films can also humanize and celebrate the experiences of marginalized communities, countering harmful “othering” tendencies and promoting social cohesion.

Teaching filmmaking to young people is a transformative endeavor with the potential to challenge societal norms and foster positive change. The power of cinema lies in its potential to subvert and challenge harmful norms, empowering the youth to become beacons of change, inspiring their communities and the world at large to embrace progress and understanding. By nurturing young filmmakers and providing them with the tools to challenge norms, we pave the way for a more compassionate and accepting society, where every voice can find resonance and empowerment.