Discipline: Film/Video – screenplay

Rana Kazkaz

Discipline: Film/Video – screenplay
Region: Doha, QATAR
MacDowell Fellowships: 2023

Rana Kazkaz is an award-winning filmmaker and professor at Northwestern University's Qatar campus. Her films have been recognized at the world’s leading film festivals, including Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, and Tribeca. She received her M.F.A. from Carnegie Mellon University/Moscow Art Theater, B.A. from Oberlin College, and a certificate from the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women.

With a focus on Syrian stories, her producing, screenwriting, and directing portfolio includes The Translator (2020), named by The New York Times as one of five action films to stream now; Mare Nostrum (2016), which has been selected by more than 100 film festivals and won more than 30 awards; Searching for the Translator (2016); Deaf Day (2011); and Kemo Sabe (2007). In 2021, she named to the Académie des César and was awarded the Roberta Buffett Visiting Professorship at Northwestern.

At MacDowell, Kazkaz conducted research and a rewrite of the screenplay of her next feature length narrative film The Hakawati’s Daughter. Set in 1960, Damascus, Syria, the modern-day folk tale tells the story of Shahra, whose gender prohibits her from inheriting the profession of storyteller, hakawati, from her father. Sixty-five years later, Shara is reminded of her struggle when she meets Zad, a teen coming of age during the Syrian conflict. Production is expected in 2026.

Portrait by Julien Chavaillaz


Phi Beta

Rana Kazkaz worked in the Phi Beta studio.

Funded by the Phi Beta Fraternity, a national professional fraternity of music and speech founded in 1912, Phi Beta Studio was built between 1929–1931 of granite quarried on the MacDowell grounds. The small studio is a simple in design, but displays a pleasing combination of materials with its granite walls and colorful slate roofing. Inside is…

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