Netflix launches section for films by female Arab directors

The 21 titles under Because She Created span various genres including documentary, drama and romance

A still from Suha Arraf’s 'Villa Touma', one of the 21 films in Netflix's Because She Created collection. Photo: Venice International Film Critics’ Week
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Netflix has released a catalogue of 21 films that it hopes will shine a light on and "celebrate the creativity of the Arab world’s greatest female storytellers".

Spanning various genres including documentary, drama and romance, the films are accessible under a dedicated collection called Because She Created, and include works by acclaimed directors from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Tunisia.

"Women filmmakers have beautiful, complex, and nuanced stories to tell — stories which have the power to resonate with people not just in the Arab world, but across the globe. Arab women have been telling these stories for decades," the streaming service said.

Titles include Let’s Talk by renowned Egyptian filmmaker Marianne Khoury. A dive into the life of legendary Egyptian director Youssef Chahine, who is also Khoury's uncle, the 2019 documentary film is told from the perspective of four women representing different generations in the family.

Stateless by Moroccan director Narjiss Nejjar looks at North African history from a female perspective, while Suha Arraf’s Villa Touma, her debut feature which was released in 2014, is set in Ramallah and follows three Palestinian sisters who cling to their aristocratic past and whose lives are turned upside down when their niece comes to live with them.

Tunisian filmmaker Leyla Bouzid’s A Tale of Love and Desire is a love story set in Paris between a French-Algerian freshman and his Tunisian classmate, and how their attraction to each other clashes with their respective values.

Zbeida Belhajamor and Sami Outalbali in Leyla Bouzid's 'A Tale Of Love And Desire'. Photo: The Arab British Centre

Meanwhile Saudi actress Ahd Kamel directs and stars in Sanctity, about a recently widowed and pregnant woman who tries to make ends meet while fending off a persistent suitor.

"While these stories are distinctly and authentically Arab, the themes will resonate with women across the world, uniting women from all walks of life through beautiful and poignant series and film," Netflix said.

"We hope these voices provide inspiration for the wider creative community and highlight the importance of equitable representation storytelling, and why it matters."

Netflix launched the Because She Created platform last year as a virtual panel discussion hosting Arab women filmmakers to talk about the evolving role of women in the Arab film industry. It also teamed up with the Cairo International Film Festival in December to host a second event as a fireside chat with renowned actress Hend Sabry.

Earlier this year, Netflix awarded a grant to five female Arab filmmakers to help them bring their projects to life on screen.

The one-time grant worth $250,000 was awarded through its Netflix Fund for Creative Equity launched in 2021 in partnership with the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture.

The 21 films in the Because She Created collection can be found at netflix.com/becauseshecreated.

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Updated: July 12, 2022, 11:22 AM
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