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Hezayah Screenwriting Lab 2023 - Online

Start date:
Jul 20, 2023
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.

Deadline for applications: 17 June

  • Session 1: 20 – 24 July (online)
  • Session 2: October 2023 (online)
  • Session 3: Jan 2024 (online)

Please note that each session lasts five-six full days.

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: 1800 Qatari Riyals
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

Raja Amari

Raja Amari was born in Tunis, Tunisia. After gaining a Master’s in French Literature from the University of Tunis, she graduated from La FEMIS, the French school for cinematic studies.

After two short movies she moves to long feature with “Satin Rouge “ (2002), premiered at Berlin International Film Festival, won numerous awards and was acclaimed by the public and the press.

Her second film “ Buried Secrets”, was presented in Official selection of the 66th Venice Film Festival. It was screened at the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art NY), and a various awarded and selected at Film Festivals.

In 2014 she directed “Tunisian Spring”, a TV movie for Arte Télévision.
In 2016, she directed “Foreign Body” which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF2016) and was selected for the Berlin Film Festival.
In 2020, she directed “She Had A Dream” which premiered at the IDFA and was selected for many other festivals (CPH DOX, JCC, International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH Geneva) …

She has been a Jury Member at several international festivals such as Venice Film Festival and Locarno International Film Festival.
She was a member of the jury for the Citizenship Prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
She is a cinema teacher and juror at La Fémis (Paris) and at HEAD (Haute École d’Art et de Design, Geneva).
She was a member of several CNC commissions, and President of the Quality Prize Commission (Aid after production for short films).
In 2019 She was officially announced a member of Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (Oscars).
In 2020 she was appointed president of the jury of the Gan foundation for cinema (France).

Ghassan Salhab

Ghassan Salhab is a Lebanese screenwriter and film director. He collaborates on various projects and teaches film in Lebanon. He has directed feature films such as ‘Beyrouth fantôme’ (1998); ‘Terra incognita’ (2002); ‘The Last Man’ (2006); ‘1958’ (2009); ‘The Mountain’ (2011); and ‘The Valley’ (2014). He has also directed numerous ‘film-essays’ including ‘Le voyage immobile’, co-directed with M.Soueid, ‘Chinese ink’, (Posthumous), ‘Narcisse Perdu’, ‘My living body My dead body’, and ‘La Rose de personne’. In 2016, he was a DAAD (Berlin) guest-resident. He has also published articles in various magazines, and a book, ‘Fragments du Livre du naufrage’. His feature ‘Une rose ouverte / Warda’ was selected at Berlinale Forum 2019.

Matthieu Darras
Lab Advisor

Matthieu Darras designs and leads several programs of film/talent development and consultancy that are active worldwide: the First Cut Lab, the Pop Up Film Residency, and the Full Circle Lab. Previously, he founded and directed the European Network of Young Cinema NISI MASA, wrote for the film magazine Positif, and was the artistic director of the TorinoFilmLab. Matthieu Darras worked for major film festivals in Europe: as a programmer for the Cannes Critics’ Week, as a consultant for the Venice Film Festival, and as a delegate for the San Sebastian Film Festival. He also directed the Bratislava Film Festival.


  • Hardships of Pearl Diving – Nora Al-Subai (Qatar)
  • Sane Mother – Zoljargal Purevdash (Mongolia)
  • Life of The Other Side Of The Sun – Tapiwa Chipfupa (Zimbabwe)
  • Mathaf’75 – Firas Abou Fakher (Lebanon)
  • I’m Coming For You – Cyrielle Raingou (Cameroon)

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 2023)
Pop Up Film Residency