Our ConnectHER Fellows program identifies past ConnectHER filmmakers and helps develop those young leaders to teach filmmaking to youth in their communities.
Lives in: Palestine
I always wanted to study business administration, and Alhamdolillah I did! Now, I am really seeking to get a chance to study for a master’s degree of Creative Documentary filmmaking, hopefully one day I can travel abroad... InshaAllah.
Dara was the first documentary I submitted to ConnectHER, it was the first experience of getting to know ConectHER and to apply to its festival. The second film named “the R” and my third film that I have submitted and made this year is called “tangLED.” In addition, I submitted a film proposal to ConnectHER PitchFest about women and education. It was a good experience to submit a proposal, although I didn’t win it!
Oh! This question brings me back to a nice situation that happened with my special friend Sawsan, she is one of my inspiring friends, she most believes in my abilities and always encourages me. Once, She sent me a link on Messenger and said: “This must be your chance and I know that Dara may succeed in this festival, go ahead and don't be afraid!”
She had seen an applying announcement for the "Girls Impact the World" competition in the eighth edition of 2019 on an Arab platform called “Forsa, means in Arabic= Opportunity.” That's when I first heard about ConnectHER; I opened website, started reading about the winners' news, watched the fest gallery, and I was so excited to participate! For that time, I think Sawsan and I were among the first Gazans to know about ConnectHER!
I wouldn't be fancy to say I was sure I would win! I was a little nervous about receiving the acceptance email, and then the voting period, which is one of the most important experiences of applying to the festival. Many of my friends and people from the Palestinian Gazan community knew about my film Dara, and watched it via ConnectHER’s gallery platform, they shared and voted for the film with love! Even when the judges chose Dara to be the winner of the audience award, I posted it on my Facebook page and told them: “Dara won, you guys won!”
This experience increased my confidence as a filmmaker making documentary films. My participation in the festival attracted the interest of many local media professionals and press!
I intended the fellowship to be an opportunity to introduce young people to the concept and idea of making a documentary story, trying to change their idea that documentaries are very boring long reportage, and it’s not only for elderly people to watch. Haha!
That is why my workshop was entitled "DOC filmmaking 101 training" in which I dealt with many topics starting from the pre-production stage, preparation, 5ws concept and interviewing, to real exercises about some theories of videography and editing, to the stage of post-production and marketing.
The direct answer is no! Hahahaha! But of course, a lot of intermittent “yeses” that popped up in sporadic situations during training!
At first, I was worried about my ability to develop an integrated training material for documentary making based on the foundations of drama training, for example, because I did not learn academically about filmmaking. Very few have trained me in this field before, but why not! I may be one of those few, distinguished in the lives of those apprentices, filmmakers-to-be.
What helped me to create passion and find this high ability of teaching, leading, sharing, giving information, was that I had previous experiences in training children in the field of photography and media!
These experiences helped me develop a special training theme based on creating an inspiring environment for the trainees during training and opening a safe space for them! I looked like a film instructor, a friend, a sister, and a director.
The thing that lit up me the most after the fellowship ended is that I really have to move forward towards being a documentary filmmaking trainer. I taught myself the ability and passion to do that. I discovered that the new generations have to rise from the world of media illusion, fast YouTube clips and frivolous life, to reality! To hear, to see, to ask, discover and learn about other people's stories! The participants have fertile ground to practice this under the shadow of a creative and understanding teacher. I imagine how six days would change some of the participants’ concepts about life, themselves and others and how I could also be more grateful for this opportunity, looking forward to another opportunity! I recently received a grant to implement my art project entitled "Beit Peyut" to hold an incentive training for women, followed by the production and screening of two documentaries they will film!
“I learned a lot during those six days, many things I was not aware of about documentaries. I gained huge valuable information from Aya and started developing it and researching more and more. My view changed to that of art and became the director’s eye, not only for films, but for my life as well!” Woroud Al-Qassas, English language media and mass communication student, photographer, 20 years old from Gaza- Palestine