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