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Jehane Noujaim

Academy Award Nominated Director of The Square & Control Room
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Biography

Egyptian American filmmaker Jehane Noujaim has dedicated her life to directing and producing films between the United States and the Middle East. Before graduating Magna Cum Laude from Harvard, she was awarded the Gardiner Fellowship for Mokattam, an Arabic film she directed about a garbage-collecting village near Cairo, Egypt. Noujaim then joined the MTV News and Documentary Division as a segment producer for the documentary series Unfiltered. She soon left her position at MTV to produce and direct the feature documentary StartUp.com. The critically acclaimed film won countless awards including the DGA and IDA awards for best documentary.

Noujaim continued to work on numerous documentaries as a cinematographer, including Born Rich, Only the Strong Survive and Down from the Mountain, before directing her next feature in 2004. The film Control Room, a documentary that exposes the difference in media coverage between the Arab and the Western world during the United States’ war with Iraq, was also met with critical acclaim. It was for this film that Noujaim won the coveted TED Prize in 2006 (won previously by Bono and Bill Clinton). Noujaim was the youngest person and first woman to win the TED prize, a prize which grants winners a wish to change the world. Noujaim’s wish was to create a day in which the power of film could bring people from all over the world together to form a global community and allows them to gain a new understanding of each other. This day, called Pangea Day, consisted of a live videoconference featuring music, film, and speakers in cities around the world, including Cairo, New York City, and Rio de Janeiro.

Jehane Noujaim has recently worked on two films, Rafea, Solar Mama (2013) and The Square (2014). Filmed in India and Jordan, Rafea, Solar Mama follows women who leave their villages to be trained for six months in India as solar engineers. When these women return home, they solar power their communities. The second film, The Square, follows the uprising in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, which inspired the country and the entire world. The Square was nominated for an Academy Award, won the Directors Guild Award, the International Documentary Award and became the first film to ever win the Audience Award at both Sundance and the Toronto Film Festival.

Noujaim has continued to work in the US and in the Middle East as an executive producer for such films as Encounter Point and Budrus. She has also co-directed (with Sherief El Katsha) Egypt: We Are Watching You, which premiered as one of the ten films in the Why Democracy series focusing on contemporary democracy around the globe. For her filmmaking work, she has been a guest on television shows such as John Stewart, Charlie Rose, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, CNN's Fareed Zakaria and Meet the Press. In addition, for her films, she has been nominated as a Young Global Leader by the WEF in 2007 and named one of the “50 People Who Will Change the World” by Wired (2012), “125 Women of Impact” by Newsweek (2013) and “100 Most Creative People in the World” by Fast Company (2014).

Topics

The Square: An Eyewitness Account of the Egyptian Revolution and the Downfall of a Regime

Different Channels, Different Truths

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