Ali Jaafar in Variety:
In recent months, the likes of Palestinian filmmakers Najwa Najjar and Annemarie Jacir, Jordan's Amin Matalqa, the U.A.E.'s Ali F. Mostafa, Arab-American Cherien Dabis, Lebanon's Chadi Zeneddine, Morocco's Hicham Ayouch and Saudi Arabia's Haifaa Mansour have all completed, or are in the process of completing, their debut efforts.
These young directors, many of whom grew up in the shadow of civil war and political strife in their native countries, are proving to be comfortable straddling East and West. That fusion is imbuing their filmmaking aesthetic with an often intriguing mix of Arabic subject matter and cultural influences from both Hollywood and Europe.
What's more, these up-and-coming talents are gaining the attention of some of the film world's biggest companies.
Zeneddine, for example, whose first film, “Falling From Earth,” is a poetically elliptical take on life in modern-day Beirut, has been signed up by Disney to develop “The Last of the Storytellers,” drawing on the Arab world's rich folkloric traditions.
Similarly, Ayouch has been enlisted by 20th Century Fox to make the studio's first Arabic-language feature film with “Samba,” about a Moroccan man who is obsessed with a Brazilian telenovela star and who teaches a samba class to a host of doting young women all eager to win his heart.