Egyptian Director Sam Abbas Launches Contest for Female Filmmakers (Exclusive)

Sam Abbas - Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Kelly Levacher

The winning female-directed short will be included in full in the helmer's upcoming feature 'Alia's Birth,' which shoots this summer in New York.

Egyptian filmmaker Sam Abbas (The Wedding) has unveiled an international contest for female filmmakers, with the winner's short film being included in his upcoming feature, Alia’s Birth.

To be considered, the narrative or documentary short films must be three minutes long or shorter, directed by a woman and never previously screened.

The idea is to include the winning piece as part of a scene where the characters are watching a short film, Abbas said. “I’m always fascinated by films that are split into segments by different directors and how you can see different styles and tastes mix and match into one. The first time I saw this was in 7 Days in Havana and The Fourth Dimension. I was struck by how each filmmaker added their own to an ultimate piece.”

He added: "It opens Alia’s Birth to new possibilities I may not have thought of. That’s the beauty of collaboration.”

Alia’s Birth will star The Night Of actress Poorna Jagannathan and Nikohl Boosheri, who is best known for her role on Freeform series The Bold Type. The story turns on a female couple forced to spend the night apart. Catharine Daddario will also appear.

Newly cast in the film are actors Samuel H. Levin (Minyan, Bull), Maya Kazan (The Unicorn, Mosaic) and Edward Akrout (Rodin, Genius). The film will shoot in New York this summer.

"While I can't talk much about the narrative, the importance of this short piece being female-directed is crucial," Abbas said. “Alia’s Birth is female-led, from the acting to behind the camera. I find it easier to communicate and collaborate when working with women. I grew up surrounded by amazing women, and my favorite films are led by women.”

Abbas is producing Alia’s Birth through his recently formed ArabQ Films, the first-ever Arab-based LGBTQ-focused production company, with the newly launched Bolivian production company Anacronica, headed by Quim Del Rio (Tu Me Manques) and Nakai Mirtenbaum and backed by private investors across Latin America.

Tatiana Bears, Nicole Townsend, Kelly Levacher and Neal Kumar are producing with Abbas. Sig De Miguel and Stephen Vincent are co-producing. Executive producers include Randelson Floyd, Suki Sandhu, David Klein, Josh Jupiter, Jorge Quintero, Lucky Cheng, Quim Del Rio and Nakai Mirtenbaum.

Submissions for the short film contest are open until July 31 and should be sent with a Vimeo link to