22. 05. 2023
‘I’m inspired by stories I hear, people I meet,
new worlds I learn about and immersive soundscapes.’
electriclime° are delighted to have added award-winning filmmaker Dania Bdeir to their director roster.
The Lebanese writer and director will be represented exclusively in Asia and Australia, and on a freelance basis in the MENA region.
Based in Dubai, Bdeir has a wealth of experience through her work, with her film Kaleidoscope screening internationally and winning several awards, including the Golden Palm at the 2014 Mexico International Film Festival.
Her film, In White, received a grant from the Spike Lee Production Fund and won the international competition at the Rio de Janeiro International short film festival.
Meanwhile, her latest project, Warsha, was shortlisted at the 95th Oscars in the Live Action Short Film category, having already won the short film jury award – International fiction, at the Sundance Film Festival earlier that year.
Warsha has played in over 300 film festivals and won over 100 awards, while currently being streamed on Netflix MENA, the Criterion channel and can be rented on iTunes/Apple TV almost globally.
Along with her narrative work, she has also done spots for Dior and Piaget, while also linking up with electriclime° for Estée Lauder’s ‘Reach For The Stars’ campaign.
EL: How did you get started in the industry?
Dania Bdeir: It was very apparent at a very young age that I loved dressing up and playing different roles.
I thought that I wanted to be an actress when I grew up.
My parents both worked full time and my sisters are significantly older so, I didn’t really have anyone to play with when I was a kid so I basically grew up watching American tv nonstop and imitating all those western characters.
My dad, may his soul rest in peace, was always filming everything and I guess he saw something in me because I was the only one out of my sisters who was gifted a video camera when I was around 15 years old.
And that was that. I started filming everything around me completely enthralled with the stories and characters of Lebanon.
When it came time to apply to university, I didn’t have the courage or the encouragement to go to film school so I ended up studying graphic design in the American university of Beirut.
I was a terrible graphic designer, but the good thing is, the program was very much rooted in the environment so in those 4 years, I actually got to go all around Lebanon, meet a lot of people and dig up a lot of stories. At the same time, I used to go on TVC sets and volunteer as a PA. Even though they were very challenging days with crazy long hours and I wasn’t getting paid, I used to be invigorated and thrilled to be behind the scenes of shoots.
As soon as I graduated from graphic design, I packed my bags and moved to NYC where I got an MFA in filmmaking from NYU, Tisch with a focus on writing and directing.
EL: Where do you find your inspiration from?
DB: Mostly, Lebanon is my biggest source of inspiration even though it’s my biggest heartache as well. But in general, I’m inspired by real life, by people, by underground communities and undiscovered worlds.
I like coming of age stories and focusing on characters that are reconciling between the person they are and the person they’d like to be. I’m inspired by stories I hear, people I meet, new worlds I learn about and immersive soundscapes.
Whenever I meet someone new, I give them the disclaimer that by being friends with me they’re agreeing to the term that anything they say can and will be used in a film one day.
EL: What do you love and what do you dislike about the filmmaking process?
DB: There are so many things I love about the filmmaking process that I’m inclined to answer “everything”. The only thing I don’t like is the fundraising part.
I don’t like how long it takes to get the money together and what this process might mean in terms of compromising creative decisions or affecting who we work with and where we have to work.
You previously worked with electriclime°. Tell us about working on the piece and what attracted you to the project/your approach to it?
The Estée Lauder piece was a really fun project because it was very character driven. I got to spend time with each of these powerful women and the main challenge was to tell their stories and to try and get across a main message that they’d like to communicate in a limited amount of time.
Exploring the world of dance, race car driving and cinema from the point of view of Arab women each trailblazing in their respective fields was empowering and inspiring.
EL: Why are you excited about joining electriclime°?
DB: I’m excited because I loved my experience with electriclime° and I’m genuinely a fan of their work and the directors they represent. I feel like this is a production company that has excellent curatorial skills and that prioritises quality and aesthetic above commercial gains.
I think that’s rare and inspiring. At the end of the day, we’re all dans of video and cinema and we’re very lucky to be in this field so it’s extra fun when you work with likeminded people who bring out the magic in the experience.
EL: Is there an area of filmmaking you’d like to explore/excites you for the future?
DB: In terms of narrative, I’d like to get into series and episodic storytelling. Technically, I’d love to continue to experiment and challenge myself to try new things.
For my short film “Warsha”, I really enjoyed the experience of working in the Volume using LED screens and Unreal Engine Technologies and I’d love to do that again
EL: What’s next for Dania Bdeir?
DB: I’m currently developing my first feature film. It’s called Pigeon Wars and it’s set in Beirut. I’m also developing my first series called Rent-a-Mama. It’s a very exciting time! in between my narrative work, I always look to work on commercial projects or branded content that fits my aesthetic.
I love work that allows me to explore either my love of emotional storytelling or of creating senatorial experiences. Since developing narrative work takes so long, these shorter span projects where I don’t need to worry About fundraising or distribution, give me the opportunity to challenge myself creatively and try to capture a brand’s essence through cinema.
You can view her work here.
LOCATION | LEBANON
TIME | 10.27
33.8547° N, 35.8623° E