Egyptian filmmaker Hayat Aljowaily, only Arab speaker at 'Up Next: Inside Africa’s Creative Industries'

Ahram Online , Saturday 27 Nov 2021

On November 17, the International Finance Corporation organized a virtual event dubbed “Up Next: Inside Africa’s creative industries,” to discuss the importance of investing in the continent’s creative economies.

Hayat Aljowaily

This virtual event featured Africa’s next generation of creators and industry leaders in music, fashion, and film with the goal of highlighting investment opportunities in Africa’s creative economies and its role in sustainable development.

Among the speakers featured was the Europe-based Egyptian filmmaker Hayat Aljowaily, alongside names such as Makhtar Diop, the managing director of the IFC; Kenyan music group Sauti Sol; Phiona Okumu, head of music for Spotify Africa; Senegalese fashion designer Selly Raby Kane, among other representatives of music, tech and streaming, fashion and film, and renowned politicians and artists. 

Aljowaily, whose latest short film Maybe Next Time, won the Audience Award at the Tripoli Online Film Festival last year, spoke about her journey to become a filmmaker, and the importance of championing diversity in film, both in front of, and behind the camera.

“I realized that growing up as an Egyptian abroad, I never saw myself represented in the movies I was watching… " explained Aljowaily.

“When I entered the industry, I realized the same issue existed behind the camera. Whenever I looked around me, I realized I was one of the African women. But what if when we start having films that reflect the diversity of our world? Those are the movies I want to make.”

Throughout the event, all the speakers highlighted the immense potential of Africa’s creative industries, both as a way to support their countries’ economies, and to promote their culture throughout the world.

Based in Europe, Aljowaily has grown up in five different countries. She graduated from Sciences Po, Paris with a B.A. in social sciences, and from Columbia University with a B.A. in film and media studies.

Throughout her career Aljowaily has always been interested in issues related to global politics, cultural exchange and identity. She strives to use film and media as a medium to promote cultural understanding and encourage social cohesion -- while focusing on stories hailing from the Arab and North African region.

The award winning film Maybe the Next Time tells the story of an Argentinean actress (played by Mia Marotta) who learns that although her art can travel, she cannot. The film deals with the tedious process of visa applications for citizens from the Global South, even if they plan to travel to participate in cultural events, such as film festivals.

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