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Hezayah Screenwriting Lab 2021 - Online

Start date:
Jun 30, 2021
Ability Level:
Intermediate to Advanced

The Hezayah Screenwriting lab is designed to assist emerging screenwriters and writer-directors to develop and write an original feature-length screenplay. This lab will take place with the support of experienced mentors in group sessions and one-on-one tutorials. The lab consists of three online sessions of five-day workshops, which take place intermittently over a period of six months.

During each online five-day session, participants are expected to work on all agreed assignments and reach key milestones as they build toward their screenplays. Strict deadlines must be followed, and participants will be asked to read and engage in the other lab attendees’ work.

Participants will be selected on the basis of the strength of their screenplay idea, their writing ability, their vision and approach, as well as their previous work. Candidates who are shortlisted for the lab will go through a selection process, which will assess their potential to expand and develop their ideas into a passionate and compelling work of cinema.

The lab is a transformative experience where filmmakers examine and explore their inner creativity and personal voice. Development takes the form of online group sessions and individual feedback, in a sharing process guided by experienced mentors and tutors. Candidates are encouraged to develop personal stories that come from the heart, and that reflect contemporary life in the Middle East region. Candidates should also consider how their films might realistically be achieved on budgets of differing scales, including a more micro-budget approach.

Application deadline extended to: Thursday 10 June 2021

  • Session 1: 30 June to 4 July
  • Session 2: 12 – 17 September
  • Session 3: January 2022

Please note that each session lasts five full days online.

The sessions will take place online and participation is required for all five days of each session, as the work, sharing and learning build from day to day.

Lab Fee:* 2500 Qatari Riyals
*Qatar Museums Culture Pass members will receive a 10% discount on this lab’s fee. To avail of the discount, simply include a copy of your Culture Pass when applying.

Language: English
Group Size: 8 participants (4 participants per group)
Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Lab Programme

Session 1
The first session will begin with a brief introduction and pitching of the ideas followed by input and feedback from the other group members and tutor. Character and theme development will also be covered, as well as an overview of documents to be produced for the next sessions.

This session will continue with a review of new and revised materials (the first scene-by-scene breakdown, or extended treatment). There will be continuous feedback and a revisiting of character and theme, adding to the discussion/further exploring a structural dimension (plot, resolution, inciting event, etc.).

Follow-up session: To review updated and revised written materials. This is an opportunity between sessions to share new ideas with mentors, to brainstorm and to discuss the challenges you may be facing.

Session 2
The second session will be a review of the new materials (revised scene-by-scene breakdown, revised character documents, etc.), and a first draft or some written scenes from the revised breakdown. Visual research and other materials will also be reviewed with the premise and pitch further developed.

Follow-up session: To review of updated and revised written materials & receive feedback. Opportunity to share new ideas with mentors, to brainstorm and to discuss the challenges you may be facing.

Session 3
Our final session will consist of feedback and input from the group and tutor on first drafts as well as scene analysis. This will set the trajectory for the next steps of the project concerning financing, casting, etc.

The final Hezayah Lab will include a pitch session with an external panel. Participants will submit their written work to the panel members and present the project they have developed over the three sessions.

Submission Requirements:

  • A short synopsis of the project in development (maximum one page)
  • Long synopsis
  • Treatment of the film
  • Resume and a short biography of screenwriter
  • Script (if available)
  • A letter outlining why you want to participate in this workshop
  • Any previous film or creative works (links to films or showreel, photography, writing, online portfolio, website, etc.)

Please send in Word or PDF format to

Please include your full name, project title, email and contact number in all text documents.


  • The workshop is designed for screenwriters with a feature film in development.
  • Participants must be from Qatar or the MENA region. Candidates should have produced at least one short or feature-length narrative or documentary film in the past
  • International participants are required to make their own travel arrangements to Doha, Qatar.

Lab Mentors

Annemarie Jacir

Annemarie has written, directed and produced over sixteen films. Two of her films have premiered as Official Selections in Cannes, one in Berlin and in Venice, Locarno, and Telluride. All three of her feature films were Palestine’s official Oscar entries. Her short film ‘Like Twenty Impossibles (2003) was the first Arab short film in history to be an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival and continued to break ground when it went on to be a finalist for the Academy Awards. Her second work to debut in Cannes, the critically acclaimed ‘Salt of this Sea’ (2008), went on to win the FIPRESCI Critics Award, and garnered fourteen other international awards including Best Film in Milan. Her second feature ‘When I Saw You’ won Best Asian Film at the Berlin Intl. Festival, Best Arab Film in Abu Dhabi and Best Film in Amiens, Phoenix, and Olympia, and garnered a nomination at the Asian Pacific Screen Awards. Her most recent film ‘Wajib’ (2017) won 36 international awards including Best Film in Mar Del Plata, Dubai, Amiens, DC Film Festival, Kosovo and Kerala and Jury Mention at the London BFI Festival.

Joelle Touma
Script Consultant

A screenwriter and script doctor, Joëlle Touma started writing screenplays in 1998. At that time she was also a TV host and an actress in Lebanon. She then became the Beirut correspondent for the French daily Libération and the Belgian daily Le Soir, also working as a fixer in Lebanon with several media outlets. Since 2006, she has been dedicating herself only to writing screenplays. She has worked with Ziad Doueiri (‘Lila says’ 2004, ‘The Attack’ 2011 and ‘The Insult’, nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2018) and Rachid Bouchareb (‘Just Like a Woman’ 2011). She also wrote for Le Bureau des Légendes, a French series produced for Canal+ and is developing a new feature film with Ziad Doueiri.

Matthieu Darras
Lab Advisor

Matthieu Darras is the director of the First Cut Lab that he co-founded in 2015. Previously, he founded & directed the European Network NISI MASA (2002-2012), and later on co-founded and was the artistic director of the TorinoFilmLab (2008- 2018). A writer for the film magazine Positif (1998-2016), Matthieu Darras has been working as festival programmer, notably for the Cannes Critics’ Week (2005-2011) and the San Sebastian Film Festival (since 2010). He recently created the Pop Up Film Residency.


  • The Pearl – Noor Al Nasr and Dana Atrach (Qatar)
  • Mehal Sefari – Abraham Gezahagne (Ethiopia)
  • The Blind Ferryman – Ali Al-Fatlawi (Iraq)
  • Birthday – Lara Zeidan (Lebanon)
  • Weedestine – Said Zagha (Palestine/Jordan)
  • Rebirth – Carine Khalaf (Lebanon)

Pop Up Film Residency
The projects participating in the Hezayah Scriptwriting Lab will be eligible to apply for the Pop Up Film Residency Award, which consists in a 3-week film residency program in one of the residences of the Pop Up Film Network (to be taking place in the first semester 2021)