BEHIND THE RAINBOW Director/Producer
What keeps her motivated as an independent filmmaker:
Obsession. Most of the films I make attempt to examine the ways developing countries are not managing to break the vicious cycle of poverty, inequality, and bad governance. I need to understand how liberation heroes who sacrificed their youth for their ideals suddenly become unrecognizable when in power.
Her three favorite films:
Cinema Paradiso by Giuseppe Tornatore
Amores Perros by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Taxi to the Dark Side by Alex Gibney
Her advice for aspiring filmmakers:
You have to choose topics that come from the heart, stories you know that nothing will stop you from pursuing, because it’s an uphill battle. Don’t give up.
Her most inspirational food for making independent film:
Keep it grilled!
Egyptian-born Jihan El-Tahri holds a master’s degree in political science from the American University of Cairo and has worked as a journalist, a writer, and a filmmaker on numerous projects since 1984. She currently lives in Paris, France.
El-Tahri started her career as the Cairo correspondent for the Sunday Times (London) and as a correspondent for Reuters. She continued working as a correspondent for TV stations and newspapers for years to come, first as a TV researcher and associate producer in Tunisia and then as a correspondent for the Washington Post, Financial Times (London), and US News & World Report. She also worked in French television, directing a number of documentaries, and in England as an associate producer and writer for BBC and the director for Channel 4.
El-Tahri has provided professional support on four films of the Steps for the Future collection on AIDS in Southern Africa, and directed a two-hour program on the virus for France 2. In Zambia, she was the author/director of a 60-minute documentary about the international food aid system. El-Tahri also wrote and directed The House of Saud, a documentary about the political history of Saudi Arabia; and Cuba: An African Odyssey, about the Cold War as seen through African eyes. She has also written two books, one on Yasser Arafat and one on the conflict between Israel and the Arabs.
Steven Markovitz runs Big World Cinema (BWC) along with Platon Trakoshis. BWC was established in 1994 and has produced a number of award-winning fiction films and documentaries. Recent documentary projects include the 13-part series Project 10: Real Stories from a Free South Africa (Sundance, Berlin, Hot Docs, Tribeca, IDFA), which Markovitz executive produced; The Tap (2003 Best South African Documentary: Apollo Festival and Stone Awards); and It’s My Life, an award-winning film sold to multiple territories, including BBC/ARTE/Sundance. BWC’s fiction projects include Inja (Oscar nomination, 2003), Husk (Cannes competition, 1999), Proteus (Berlin, Toronto, 2003), and Boy Called Twist (Cannes, 2005). Big World Cinema also co-founded and runs Encounters South African International Documentary Festival.