Arab Women Thrive On and Behind the Camera

Half of this year's ANA filmmakers are women. I hadn't noticed it until the "directors" page was being readied and the pictures neatly lined up. 

Since then, I've stumbled on articles about this year's "phenomenon".

It seems counter-intuitive. From Hollywood to Bollywood, women have a harder time breaking through. Yet, in Saudi Arabia were women cannot even drive, two films directed by and starring women made the 2012 festival rounds, picking up awards along the way. (Wadjda, Sanctity, showing on Sunday June 2, at 2 PM)

Last year's ANA2012 selection, tackled gender issues (that showed women being subjugated (Sheherazade Tell Me  Story), sexually harassed (Cairo 678) and in some cases ordered killed (A Man of Honor). In all cases, the women fought back and succeeded to some extent. All the listed movies were directed by men.


Which explains, to a certain extent, how the natural second step would be for the women to tell their own stories.

That leap, albeit logical,  does not, however, explain women's apparent success in the Arab filmmaking world. Is it that the industry is more open to women in Lebanon, Morocco or Egypt than it is in California? Do Arab women pitch their ideas better than their western counterparts? Do grants managers have a mandate to support women filmmakers? And, should we care about the gender of filmmakers at all?

What do you think? Is there a 'new wave' of Arab women filmmakers, or is it just a coincidence that so many of their works are appearing on our screens at the same time?

I'm opening this one up to discussion. What do you think?