© 2019 Sara Ishaq

 
 

Sara Ishaq is an OSCAR® and BAFTA nominated Yemeni-Scottish filmmaker, film trainer and yoga teacher, born in Scotland and raised in Yemen. She pursued a higher education in Scotland first with an MA General in Humanities & Social Sciences (with a focus on Politics, Religion & International Law) at the University of Edinburgh (2007) and later, a Film Directing diploma from the London Academy of Radio, Film and TV, followed by an MFA in Film Directing at the Edinburgh College of Art, UoE (2012). In between, she trained as a yoga teacher in Nasik, India.

In 2007, Sara began freelancing for the BBC on a number of TV series covering the Middle East, before buying her own camera and traveling to Palestine for 3 months in 2010 to document the eviction of the Palestinian residents of El-Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.  In early 2011, she returned to Yemen as the country's 2011 uprising was unfolding and began covering events in Sanaa's 'Change Square', first disseminating the videos through her own youtube channel, until she was hired as a camerawoman for the BBC to cover events on the ground. 

 

In 2011, she also began independently covering the tragic events of the 18th of March 'Friday of Dignity' massacre in the Yemeni capital Sana'a. This endeavour inevitably evolved into her debut film Karama Has No Walls (2012). This short doc went on to win multiple awards worldwide, followed by a nomination for a BAFTA Scotland New Talents Award (2012) and a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) in 2014 (the very first Oscar nomination for Yemen). 

 

In 2013, Sara completed her award-winning feature documentary film The Mulberry House, which deals with her relationship with her Yemeni family against the backdrop of the revolution.

 

In 2017, she co-founded Comra Films, a Yemen-based film community space for creative film-production and training, having already conducted several filmmaking training courses for aspiring young filmmakers in Yemen under media collective #SupportYemen, which she had formerly co-founded in 2011. 

Sara currently lives in Amsterdam with her son & Dutch husband, and is developing a documentary film on the current war in Yemen, along with her first fiction feature film, "The Station". Besides filmmaking, Sara has been an avid yoga teacher since 2008, teaching extensively in Edinburgh, the West Bank, Sana'a & Cairo.

She regularly returns to Yemen to teach filmmaking at the Sana'a-based Comra Films Centre

 

FILMOGRAPHY

DIRECTOR . CO-WRITER   |    The Station   |    (FICTION FEATURE - In Development) -  Debut Feature Fiction Film, with co-writer and producer Nadia Eliewat

 

DIRECTOR . DOP   |   Like A Woman  |    (SHORT DOC / In Development, Yemen)

DIRECTOR . DOP   |    The Wild Ones    |    (SHORT DOC / In Development, The Netherlands)

 

LOCAL PRODUCER . RESEARCHER    The House of Saud       (TV DOC / Episode 1 / 60 Mins, 2018)   BBC WORLD

PRODUCER .  DIRECTOR . EDITOR     MULTIPLE FILM-RELATED MASTERCLASSES (ONLINE, 2018)   DOXBOX GmbH

 

LOCAL PRODUCER . RESEARCHER   |    Funeral Bombing     (TV DOC / 30 min, 2017)   BBC OUR WORLD / NEWSNIGHT

DIRECTOR . DOP   |   Yemen Fight Club    |   ( TV DOC / 2 mins, 2016)    AJ PLUS

DIRECTOR . DOP . EDITOR   |    Stranded   |    (SHORT DOC / 6 mins, Egypt 2015)

 

DIRECTOR . DOP . CO-EDITOR . CO-PRODUCER     The Mulberry House   |    (FEATURE DOC / 64 min, Yemen 2013) - Co-produced by No Nation Film, Seen Films and Setara Films

LOCAL PRODUCER . RESEARCHER    |    Yemeni Child Prisoners on Death Row    (TV DOC / 60 min, 2013)    CHANNEL FOUR / UNREPORTED WORLD

 

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR . LOCAL PRODUCER   |   Entrepreneurial Tribal Women    (WEB DOC / 10 min, 2012)    MEDIATRUST

DIRECTOR . EDITOR . PRODUCER   |    Karama Has No Walls     (SHORT DOC / 26 min, Yemen 2012) - Co-Produced by Sara Ishaq & Hotspot films

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR . DOP . LOCATION COORDINATOR   |  Yemen Uprising   |  ( TV DOC / 30 min, YEMEN 2011)    BBC World Service / Newsnight / BBC Our World

DIRECTOR   |   Marie My Girl   |    (SHORT FICTION - 8 min, UK , 2010) - Edinburgh College of Art

 

DIRECTOR . DOP     Steve’s Art   |   (SHORT DOC - 4 min, London UK - 2008) - Short documentary, London Academy of Film & TV

 

LOCATION COORDINATOR . RESEARCHER     |     Women In Black    (5x60 min, 2007)  BBC TWO

KARAMA HAS NO WALLS

FILM SAMPLES

STRANDED

THE MULBERRY HOUSE

YEMEN'S FIGHT CLUB - AJ+

 
 

AWARDS & GRANTS

 

 

 

THE STATION (Fiction Feature, In Development)

Netherlands Flim Festival Emerging Talent Award (2019)

Jordan Film Fund (2019)

IFFR Hubert Bals 'Bright Future' Development Fund (2018)

DIFF Writer's Room (2017)

Carthage Film Festival Production Market (2017)

COMRA FILM FOUNDATION TRAINING PROGRAMS 

Arts and Culture Entrepreneurship Program (ACE) 2019 - 2020 | Supported by Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC)  

Comra Film Teacher Training 2019 | Supported by International Media Support (IMS)

Comra Doc Camp 2018 | Supported by Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC)  

THE MULBERRY HOUSE   (Feature Doc, 2013)

IDFA Bertha Fund  |   AFAC Crossroads Fund  

DIFF Enjaz Fund   |   FORD Foundation Fund

StoryDocs Athens  |  InterDocs Scotland

This Human World Film Festival Jury Prize  2014  |  WINNER

Audience Favourite Award at Berwick Film Festival UK  2014  |  WINNER

Dubai International Film Festival MUHR Award  2014  |  NOMINEE

DOK.FEST Munich Best Doc Award 2014  |  NOMINEE 

AEGEAN DOCS Best Political Doc Award 2014 |  NOMINEE

DocsBarcelona+Medellín International Doc Film Festival 2015 | SPECIAL JURY MENTION

KARAMA HAS NO WALLS   (Short Doc, 2012)

Academy Award for Best Documentary Short  2014  |  NOMINEE

One World Media Award 2013  |  NOMINEE

BAFTA Scotland  |  New Talent Award 2012  |  NOMINEE

EDINDOCS Film Festival  |  Best Short Film Award 2013  |  WINNER 

Al-Jazeera TV Awards  |  Best Short Doc Award 2012  |  WINNER 

United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF)  |  Best Short Film Award 2012  |  WINNER 

Arab Film Festival, San Francisco (AFF)  |  Outstanding Short Film Award 2012  |  WINNER 

Evolution Mallorca International Film Festival 2012  |  HONOURABLE MENTION 

 
 

OTHER PROJECTS

#SUPPORTYEMEN MEDIA COLLECTIVE

During the Change Square sit-ins in Yemen's 2011 uprising, Sara and a group of fellow artists and activists co-founded the non-profit media collective #SupportYemen to counter the media blackout surrounding events taking place at the time. In 2015, #SupportYemen collaborated with the British Council to launch Yemen's first film camp, Comra, of which Sara was lead trainer of the Comra 1 Doc Camp. 

OUT OF THE RUBBLE: Art Therapy for Child Survivors of Airstrike

In September 2015, Sara collaborated with Yemeni street artist, Murad Subay and the British Council to run an arts and crafts workshop for children who had survived airstrikes on their homes. The project, Out Of The Rubble, aimed at giving the children an outlet for the traumas they had endured by reconstructing pieces of rubble gathered from their demolished homes into works of art.

COMRA FILMS & DOC FILM CAMP 

In 2017, Sara co-founded Comra Films - a Yemen Based Foundation for Filmmaking. In war-torn Yemen where film studies is non-existent, foreign media access is blocked and political media outlets control the world's view of Yemen, now is the most pressing time for independent Yemeni filmmakers to have a voice. Comra FIlm's Doc Film camp aims to provide these filmmakers with the tools and support necessary to tell their stories to the world.

JURY PANELS & TEACHING

 

 

60 Second Intl. Film Festival  |     Film Award Jury Member   |    April 2019 (London, UK)

DOCUMENTARY CONVENTION  |     Member of Expert Group, Moderator   |    April 2019 (Leipzig, GERMANY)

ROYAL FILM COMMISSION    |    Project Selection Jury Member   |    March 2019 (Amman, JD)

IDFA BERTHA FUND     |     Grantee Pre-selection Committee Member for MENA Region   |    Jan 2019 (Amsterdam, NL)

COMRA DOC FILM CAMP   Intensive Documentary Residency Supported by AFAC Fund    |     Course Designer & Lead Trainer   |    March-Dec 2018 (Sana’a, Yemen)

Al-Madaniya Magazine  |  Videography Mentor  |  July - Dec 2018 (Online)

 

DIWAN AL-FAN   Artist Residency   |   Filmmaking Mentor   |  Nov. 2017 (Berlin, Germany)

 

DOXBOX   Doc Free Zone E-Coures    |    Guest Mentor   |    Sep. 2017 (Berlin, Germany)

 

DOXBOX   The Residency | Feature Doc Editing Residency    |    Film Selection Committee Member   |    March 2017 (Berlin, Germany)

COMRA   Intensive 2-Week Documentary Editing Masterclass      Course Designer & Lead Trainer    |    March 2017 (Yemen / Online)

 

60th BFI London Film Awards       Short Films Judge   |   October 2016 (London, UK)

 

How To Tell A Story   Documentary Workshop (with Assaad Taha)       Guest Trainer   |    May  2016 (Istanbul, Turkey)

 

COMRA   SupportYemen Intensive 2-Week Documentary Filmmaking Camp   |    Course Designer & Lead Trainer    |    June 2015 (Sana’a, Yemen)

 

BBC AAN KORB   Arabic Film Festival    |    Films Awards Juror    |    November 2013 (London, UK)

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: THE ARAB REVOLUTIONS  Southbank Centre   |   Event Co-curator   |  September 2012 (London, UK)

EDINDOCS   Edinburgh Documentary Film Festival   |    Festival Film Selection Committee    |     August  2010 (Edinburgh, UK)

 
 

RELATED ARTICLES

Elixer Magazine: 30Qs with Sara Ishaq

Vrouwen en duurzame Vrede - Jemen 2018

Hubert Bals Development Fund Selections 2018

Women of Yemen: making art in times of war

Framing Conflict: Film in a Time of War

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TALKS & SCREENINGS

April 16, 2019

Sara Ishaq In Conversation with Emma Davie

Documentary Convention - Creative Encounters

November 28, 2018

The current war in Yemen: its repercussions and a way out?

University of Amsterdam Talk

September 05, 2017

Producing Image Activism after the Arab Uprisings

Department of Media Studies, Stockholm

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