Netflix pledges $5 million to support female filmmakers

The streaming service is already paving the way for Arab directors, with Tima Shomali's all-female production 'AlRawabi School For Girls' set to debut this year

A handout movie still of "Rock the Casbah" (Photo by Hassen Brahiti)
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To mark International Women’s Day, Netflix has announced it will invest $5 million in supporting female storytellers around the world.

The money will go towards programmes that identify, train and provide work placements for up-and-coming female talent, as part of Netflix’s newly created Fund for Creative Equity, which has committed to spending $20 million a year over the next five years on “building more inclusive pipelines behind the camera”.

This will cover a range of initiatives – from workshops that train aspiring female writers and producers on how best to pitch their creative vision, to shadowing opportunities on productions that will provide valuable first-hand experience.

Netflix already has a strong pedigree in supporting female filmmakers in the Arab world. It will launch AlRawabi School For Girls later this year, which is the first Arabic original led by Tima Shomali, and has a predominantly female cast and crew. Later in the year, it will stream Finding Ola, which sees actress Hend Sabry take on the role of executive producer for the first time in her career.

Among its roster of other films and series created by Arab females are Panoptic, directed by Rana Eid from Lebanon; Nappily Ever After, directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour from Saudi Arabia; Rock the Casbah, directed by Laila Marrakchi from Morocco; Noura's Dream, by Tunisia's Hinde Boujemaa; and The Kite, by Randa Chahal Sabag from Lebanon.

A scene from 'Noura’s Dream', directed by Hinde Boujemaa. Courtesy Netflix
A scene from 'Noura’s Dream', directed by Hinde Boujemaa. Courtesy Netflix

The streaming service has also paved the way for first-time female directors from around the world, including Amy Poehler, who made her feature directorial debut with Wine Country; Anvita Dutt, who made her directorial debut with Bulbbul; Brie Larson with Unicorn Store and Genevieve Nnaji with Lionheart, among others.