Discipline: Film/Video – screenplay

Sahraa Karimi

Discipline: Film/Video – screenplay
Region: New York, NY
MacDowell Fellowships: 2024

Sahraa Karimi is a film director and screenwriter from Afghanistan. Despite facing numerous obstacles, she has become a leading figure in the Afghan film industry and has won numerous international awards for her work.

At the age of 17, Karimi immigrated to the Slovak Republic, where she eventually earned her Ph.D. in Cinema from the Academy of Music and Performing Arts, Film and TV Faculty in Bratislava. During her studies from 2002 to 2012, she made around 30 short fiction and documentary films, many of which were successful internationally and broadcasted through ARTE France, BBC, and other European TV channels.

In 2012, Karimi returned to Kabul. Her documentary film Afghan Women Behind the Wheel won nearly 25 awards from around the world. Her other film, Light Breeze, won an academy award from the Slovak National Film and TV Academy as the best short fiction film and she became the only Afghan filmmaker to be an active member of the Slovak Film and TV Academy.

In 2019, Karimi’s first fiction feature film Hava, Maryam, Ayesha premiered at the Venice Film Festival. The film was Afghanistan's entry for the Oscars that year and has participated in more than 50 film festivals around the world, and has broadcasted through many European TV channels. The film also won numerous awards including Cigle D'or, Cine – Festival En Payes De Fayence, France, 2021.

In August 2021, Karimi was forced to leave Afghanistan due to the unexpected fall of Kabul and the return of the Taliban to power. She continues to work on her second fiction feature film Flight from Kabul, which is based on true events.

While at MacDowell, she wrote and completed an extensive treatment of her third feature film Roots in the Wind. She wrote it in her mother tongue, Farsi, and then translated it into English and sent it to the producer. This film will be produced in 2025. The film tells the story of a young girl from Afghanistan who comes to America after August 15, 2021, during the evacuation, in search of her husband. It becomes a journey of self-discovery for her as she overcomes difficulties and learns more about herself. She also wrote three short stories while in residence (Duology – Train Station and Wide Eyes).


New Jersey

Sahraa Karimi worked in the New Jersey studio.

The yellow clapboard New Jersey Studio, located on a grassy, sloping site, was funded by the New Jersey Federation of Women’s Clubs and built as an exact replica of Monday Music Studio (1913). The studio’s porch rests on fieldstone piers that increase in height as the ground slopes to the west. Like Monday Music Studio, New Jersey…

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