2019 Jury panel

Founder of Toaster Productions is an Emirati Film and TV director, producer and an entrepreneur. After working in the media government sector with TwoFour54 and in the advertising field, she started her production company Toaster productions in 2014. She emerged to be one of the women leaders in film making and producing within UAE. She has worked on numerous numbers of short films as a producer and a director. She was also a speaker in numbers of workshops called Akoun which is created for university students by TwoFour54 to nurture and develop the culture of entrepreneurship amongst young UAE Nationals. Her passion is in creating content from the region while collaborating with international media companies as well. Afra works as a producer for the show Al Rayeh in Baynonah TV and she directs and works with Sesame Street

Dr. Rachid Naim is a Moroccan film critic and journalist. He holds a Ph. D. in film history and communication studies and is currently a professor at Cadi Ayyad University, Safi, Morocco. He is the founder and artistic director of the Journées Cinématographiques de Safi. He is also a member of the Moroccan Association of Film Critics (AMCC) and the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI). Dr. Naim publishes articles and books about topics linked to cinema, representation and art. He frequently participates as a lecturer in festivals and seminars around the world (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Burkina Faso, France, United Kingdom, Belgium). As a jury member, Dr. Naim took part in many international film festivals such as the 26th edition of the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso (FESPACO) in 2019; the 40th edition of the Cairo International Film Festival in Egypt (CIFF) in 2018; the 2016 and 2017 editions of Morocco’s National Film Festival; the 1st edition of Rabat’s Festival of Film and Audiovisual Schools of Africa in 2017, the 13th edition of TransSaharian Zagora International Film Festival in 2016.

Sarra’a Abdulaziz is an Emirati filmmaker and an artist from Ras Al Khaima. At the age of eleven, she experienced writing her first dialogues for a school play and she wanted to tell stories ever since. She graduated from Zayed university with a Bachelors of visual communications which gave her a window to the art of photography and videography. She holds a master’s degree on film writing and directing from  (NYU Tisch School of the Arts). Her film (Open Wound) was an official selection at the Dubai international film festival (DIFF) in 2015 and was distributed by BBC Arabia. She aims to highlight the voices of women and unrepresented people in the Arab world. She dreams of bringing stories from UAE to the rest of the world.

Dr. Yousef Alfailakawi is an assistant professor at Kuwait University. He served as the Head of the Mass Communication Department at Kuwait University (2009-2011). He  was the President of Arab-US Association for  Communication Educators (2012-2014). Alfailakawi received his BA from Denver University, a Master’s degree from Murray State University, and his Ph.D. degree from University of South Carolina in Television Production. Before that, he worked as a TV director with Kuwait Television in which he directed more than 381 TV films and spots. He also won the Best Documentary TV Director in 1994 during the Arab States Broadcasting Union festival. He also served as a media consultant for many government and private sectors. He supervised many master and Ph.D. thesis and dissertations. His teaching areas are: TV Productions, Documentary films, Visual Communication, Mass Media Theory, Mass Media Research, Public Opinion, Script Writing and News writing. His research and professional interests are: social media, TV productions, documentary films, media research, new media technology and effects.

Luz has always had a passion for media, production and film starting her career as a fixer for the BBC Middle East Business Report back in 2008. After a 10-year career in production and marketing, Luz joined Cinema Akil as Pop Ups & Partnerships Manager in 2016. Since then, Cinema Akil has had more than 65 pop up film programs across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah and has now opened its first permanent space in Alserkal Avenue in Dubai. Luz is also the curator of Alternativo Latino, a Latin American film week which takes place annually at Cinema Akil.  

Lakhdar Chadli first filmed and produced in 1981. Since then, exploring a reality covered by the imaginary world of cinematographic art, he has made 36 films in the hot and distant confines of our planet. Some of his films have participated in countless festivals: Leipzig, Bilbao, Montpelier, Moscow, Tashkent, Carlo Vivari. Lakhdar is interested in events that affect the universal and contemporary history of people. (Cine-screen – Moscow) Lakhdar Chadli was a member of jury selection for the festivals of Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Berlin, San Sebastian Bilbao, Lodz Carlo Vivari, Oran (Algeria), Member of Selection for Films-Afrique (Montreal), Award for Best Short Film at the Moscow Film Festival, 1982. Dr. Lakhdar Chadli has a PhD in Art sciences, specializing in Cinema –Television at Moscow Cinema State Academy, Media and the development of film, television and interactive Media works at Institut National de l`Image et du Son INIS – Montreal, whose pedagogy is based on Theory and practice.Dr. Chadli is a multimedia professional, director, producer, lecturer, journalist, and teacher, experienced in the development of live news, talk shows and current affairs programming, documentaries, Launching TV Channels MBC – AL ARABIYA – AL HADATH Channels – O3 PRODUCTION

Lena Jayyusi is Professor Emeritus in the College of Communication and Media Sciences at ZU. Prior to her 16 years at Zayed University she taught at Wellesley College in the US, the University of Connecticut at Storrs, and Cedar Crest College in Pennsylvania, where she was Chair of the Department of Communication Studies for several years. She has been an Annenberg Scholar at the Annenberg School for Communication (University of Pennsylvania), an SSRC Fellow and a visiting researcher at the EHESS in Paris, France’s top institute of higher education and research. She has also served as Senior TOKTEN consultant on media and culture for the United Nations Development Program in Jerusalem. Author and editor of several books, her research and publications are interdisciplinary, addressing topics that include media and cultural studies, film and visuality, memory and narrative, oral history, and political discourse. She is a member of the Editorial Board of Global Media and Communication journal and a member of the Editorial Review Board of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences. Dr. Jayyusi has an MA. And Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Manchester in the UK, and an M.Sc. in Film Studies from Boston University.

Tim Wilkerson is an award-winning and well-respected America director of fiction, documentary, and animation films, whose work has been seen worldwide via film festivals, broadcast, and the web, and whose commercial clients have included Ford Motor Company, State Farm Insurance, and Caterpillar Tractor. As an undergraduate, Wilkerson studied Cinema and Photography at Southern Illinois University in the United States. After his undergraduate experience he received a prestigious Fulbright Fellowship to study in Egypt, where he studied the culture, language, and film industry of this fascinating country. In 2002 Wilkerson received his MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Texas at Austin, where he held the very prestigious Jacob K. Javits Fellowship. He then went on to teach filmmaking/ digital media production as an Assistant Professor at the University of Florida, and Northwestern University, both of whose communications programs rank in the top 10 within the United States. Wilkerson’s last film “The Oracles Of Pennsylvania Avenue” was a feature length documentary, which garnered “Best Director of A Feature Documentary” at the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival,  “Best Director” at the Silent River Film Festival in Beverly Hills California, was screened world-wide via satellite by a major international boadcaster, and was listed by one influential film blogger as one of the most important films of 2014. Currently Wilkerson is in pre-production on a feature length fiction film, which will be a co-production between Egypt and the U.S.