Born in London, Claire Simon grew up in the south of France. Having studied ethnology, Arabic and Berber, she learned about filmmaking through editing and made her first shorts independently. She discovered the direct cinema genre at Les Ateliers Varan and went on to direct several documentaries. Les Patients, Récréations and Coûte que coûte have won awards at many film festivals around the world. She has since directed many more documentary and fiction films. Her latest documentary, Premières Solitudes, screened in Berlin’s Forum section in 2018. She is currently working on finishing her documentary series Le Village.
Documentary filmmaker, researcher and scholar Mila Turajlic’s most recent film The Other Side of Everything premiered at Toronto International Film Festival in 2017, going on to win 20 awards including the IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary. Her debut documentary Cinema Komunisto premiered at IDFA and won 16 awards, including the Gold Hugo at the Chicago IFF in 2011 and the FOCAL Award for Creative Use of Archival Footage. Her latest work is a series of archive-based video installations commissioned by MoMA in New York for their landmark exhibition on Yugoslav modernist architecture.
Her films are regularly taught at US and European universities and she has guest lectured at the Sorbonne, Harvard and Stanford, among other institutions. She produced the Magnificent 7 Festival of European Feature Documentary Film in Belgrade since its creation in 2005 and is a founding member of DOKSerbia.
Iranian director, writer and producer Mohsen Makhmalbaf is known as a founder of the new wave of Iranian cinema and one of the most influential filmmakers in the world today. His many critically-acclaimed films include: Salam Cinema (Cannes 1995); Time of Love (Cannes 1995); Gabbeh (Cannes 1996); A Moment of Innocence (Locarno 1996); The Silence (Venice 1998); Tales of Kish (Cannes 1999); Testing Democracy (Venice 1999); Kandahar (Cannes 2001); Scream of the Ants (Montreal 2007); The President (Venice 2014) and The Night of Zayandeh-Rood (Venice 2017).
He has received more than 50 international awards from prestigious film festivals around the world. Kandahar was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the 100 best movies in cinema history and A Moment of Innocence was voted one of the top ten films of the 90s by the directors of international film festivals.
Film Director, writer and producer Gaston Kaboré has directed more than twenty films for cinema and television. His fiction debut Wend Kuuni (1982) was well-received worldwide, picking up awards including a César in 1985. His latest feature, Buud Yam (1997) was awarded a Golden Stallion at the Ouagadougou Festival (FESPACO) in 1997 and selected for Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes. He has sat on juries in Locarno (1989), Venice (1994), Cannes (1995), Berlin (2009) and FESPACO (2009). In addition to his own films, he has co-written a novel and scripts for several fiction and animated films.
He has run institutions including the National Film Board of Burkina Faso and the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers and co-founded African cinema magazine Screens of Africa. In February 2003 he founded the Imagine Institute to train African cinema and television professionals.
Before graduating in Communication Arts from the Lebanese American University (LAU) in Beirut in 1998, Rima Mismar began writing for local newspapers and cultural supplements, and from 1999 pursed a career as a film critic. She was appointed Executive Director of the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture in 2016. She has participated as a jury member or member of the selection committee for various festivals, contributed to serious critical writings on Arab cinema, moderated panels and written for regional media. She has also worked in television, writing and producing several episodes of The Arabic Lens/Al Adasa Al Arabiya, a series on Arab cinema produced and broadcast by Al-Jazeera between 2005 and 2008. She also wrote and researched a number of feature documentaries produced and broadcast by the Al-Arabiya channel.