Although only one woman from outside Europe and North America makes it into the top 25 of BBC Culture’s 100 greatest films directed by women (Argentinian Lucrecia Martel for The Swamp), there’s one part of the world that puts Hollywood to shame when it comes to gender parity in filmmaking – the Middle East.
A recent study by Northwestern University, commissioned by the Doha Film Institute in Qatar, found that 26% of independent Arab filmmakers are women, while only 8% of the directors of 2018’s top 250 films in the US were women. In Morocco, Tunisia and Lebanon, 25% of all new directors are women. In Egypt, this year’s Cairo International Film Festival became the first Arab festival, and second African festival, to pledge 50-50 gender parity by 2020. Another first-time Arab female filmmaker, Syrian journalist Waad Al Khateab, who co-directed For Sama, is now tipped for the Oscars, after the film won four British Independent Film Awards.