Alumni Inspiration
December 21, 2021

Meet the three Fulbrighters making their mark in film and media

In this alumni inspiration feature, we interview and highlight the incredible work and accomplishments of three Jordanian Fulbrighters (Hind, Jude, and Rand) who in the past few years have been leaving their mark in media and film both regionally and internationally.

In this final alumni inspiration feature of the year, we wanted to feature three Jordanian Fulbrighters across different cohorts that have achieved incredible milestones in their respective fields and specialities under the filming industry, both regionally, as well as internationally.

From left to right: Jude Kawwa, Hind Shoufani and Rand Abdul Nour

We interviewed each of them amidst their very busy schedules, and asked them a few questions to learn more about their experiences, their accomplishments recently, as well as their plans for the coming years.


Fulbright Foreign Student Scholarship (2002-2004)
New York University

Hind is a filmmaker, poet and writer.  Her film “The Present” which she wrote and edited, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film, and additionally won the BAFTA Award for Best Short Film among many other accolades. Her latest feature documentary film, titled “They Planted Strange Trees”, received two prizes at the ElGouna film festival for post-production in 2021. The film is set to be released in 2022. 

Hind also wrote and directed the feature film “Trip Along Exodus” in 2015 which toured over 40 festivals and won awards, and she is currently in production on a TV series about Arab female poets, which she has been filming for over 8 years. Hind is also a commercial producer and director, working for over 22 years with TV stations, various agencies, NGO’s and museums between Beirut, NYC, Amman, Dubai and other cities.  

Our Interview with Hind Shoufani

Q: Share a recent project you are proud of?

I am very excited about entering the editing phase for our new film “They Planted Strange Trees”, in co-production with Ossama Bawardi from Philistine films

The film is a personal and poetic look at mythology, community and identity juxtapositions in the minority societies of the Christians who remained in Galilee. I am a strange tree myself in that landscape, and I am exploring my ancestral home, and telling the stories of the people who kept the land, kept the faith. We hope to release the film next summer. I also produced and directed 28 films for a Dubai Museum, in 2021. I am happy to be working on film installation films for museums, as it combines my passions for documentary mixed with video art. I also am proud to have produced documentary shoots with young students in 8 Arab countries, for an NGO. In 2021, I also had a long essay published by the Michigan Quarterly Review, titled “Retinentia” in their issue themed “Why We Write”. I truly enjoyed my literary exploration of the many reasons I write poetry and prose. 

Q: What is it like being a woman in the film industry?

I guess we get asked this question a lot, and I never really have an answer for this. I was raised in a feminist home, and therefore never really felt different from men. I also have very strong masculine energy in the stereotypical sense of the word, so I have not really thought about what it means to be a woman in this space. I got into leadership positions as a producer/director quite young in my life, around the age of 20, and went into a lot of commercial spaces where I led a team, and so my confidence and my attitude were shaped by that. I think I was truly lucky. Having said that, I think I am struggling a little at an older age with the confidence to enter the fiction world, where the budgets are bigger, the film toys or equipment are more sophisticated and the stakes are higher. I hope to overcome this insecurity and write my own fiction soon. When I did write/edit a fiction short a couple of years ago, it got nominated for an Oscar and won a BAFTA, so that is encouraging!

Hind seen while directing one of her films (photo courtesy of Hind Shoufani)

Q: What advice would you give to people thinking about getting into media and filmmaking?

Have the thickest skin you can imagine having. Decide what track you would like to take, are you going to work in mainstream crowd pleasing entertainment? Great, no shame in that at all. We need to have fun at the movies watching our own artists do great work. Do you want to explore more niche or complicated creative spaces? Great, prepare to fight for that every day. Tell the stories you know. Do not assume things about the societies you write about.  Do not hog credit when you are part of a team, and the success of the project depended on that team. It's a very small industry here in the Arab world, so build a good reputation, because that will take you far, and people will all know if you are a terrible artist to work with. Keep your ego in check, and your eyes focused on the ball. Thank people, and be loving. Be bold in your storytelling, stop worrying about what people might think. Push the envelope, rock the boat. We truly need it. But don’t be sensationalist for the sake of shock value, people can see through that a lot. Show and do not tell in your writing, and do not treat the audience like simpletons. Create community connections that you can build throughout your life, they will be invaluable to your work. Treat people kindly. And most importantly, learn early to enjoy the process and not the final product, because waiting to release projects means you might spend years frustrated and annoyed. But if you love the nature of filmmaking, if you love cameras and lenses and editing software and actors and storytelling and light and fundraising, all of it, then you are incredibly lucky to do this work.

Thank people, and be loving. Be bold in your storytelling, stop worrying about what people might think. Push the envelope, rock the boat. We truly need it.

Q: What is something you’re working on, or plan to work in in the upcoming years?

I am in development now on a 5-part TV series that follows the work and lives of several female Arab poets, which I have been filming for many years. I hope to release the show in 2023, and it will be the biggest project of my life, since its a very complex mix of real life and the fantastical imaginative worlds of poetry-turned-into-film. I also am ready to find a publisher for my poetry manuscript, so I have been applying to independent publishers in the USA mainly, in the hope that I can release a book of prose and poetry in 2023.


Fulbright Foreign Student Scholarship (2013-2015)

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Rand is an artist and production designer among other things, she is also the co-creator of THE BOX, an art initiative supporting the importance of art in the region. She has worked on many projects recently including the Netflix hit series “AlRawabi School for Girls”.

Q: Share a recent project you are proud of?

One of the dearest projects to my heart, has to be “ The Alleys”: a Jordanian fictional feature film brilliantly directed by Bassel Ghandour. This film presented me with the opportunity to be playful and experimental; I got to design a world of stylized realism, I played around with color, textures and patterns, used them symbolically to emphasize certain traits in each of the film’s vibrant characters. I am also proud of this film, because it taught me so much about myself as a professional, where I had to step out of my comfort zone and tackle many exciting challenges that helped me confidently grow as an artist and designer.

Rand painting (photo courtesy of Rand Abdul Nour)

Q: What is it like being a woman in the film industry? 

It is a well known fact that the film industry internationally, like many other industries is male dominated. Men continue to dominate in numbers both on screen and especially behind the scenes. When it comes to key roles, like directors and cinematographers, women are not given a fair chance in participating. Until now the top awards on offer at film festivals have been grossly biased towards men. Not because they are better actors and film-makers, but because more men have made and starred in films. In Jordan however, with the film industry being young and growing, we have been lucky and blessed that most of the industry’s founders have been incredibly strong women, who have set an inclusive tone for the industry early on. Of course, there’s still a lot of work to be done, where more opportunities need to be created and are open to women, and where women are provided with the proper support such as on-set childcare for example. 

Rand on set (photo courtesy of Rand Abdul Nour)

As a feminist, I do acknowledge and I am aware of and empathize deeply with women’s struggle around the world and in Jordan to create equal opportunities, especially in the film industry where women have not only been marginalized but also have been subject to abuse. That said, and despite having had my fair share of persecution, personally and on an individual level being a woman in the film industry is the greatest thing ever! It is an absolute privilege to be able to get a platform where I can contribute my designs and creations using my own original, female and artistic voice. Getting to collaborate with other female and male creatives is extremely rewarding, where constant support is evident and learning is ongoing. Most of the heads of department roles in the Jordanian film industry are filled by women, and the men in this industry have also been pillars in holding up and committing to inclusive standards and virtues and have played a great role in sustaining equality in the industry and supporting its women.

It is an absolute privilege to be able to get a platform where I can contribute my designs and creations using my own original, female and artistic voice.

Q: What advice would you give to people thinking about getting into media and filmmaking?

​​Read as much as you can, watch as many movies as you can, look at and create art, deeply observe people and the world around you. Start a journal and document in it things that interest and intrigue you; they can be images, poems, quotes, sketches, fallen leaves, ticket stubs, articles…etc. 

Stay humble, and keep learning. There’s always something new to observe and study, someone to listen to, collaborate with and learn from, challenges to overcome creatively and many lessons to get educated from. Approach all projects with an open mind and heart, you might need to let go of all expectations, your ego, attachments and just embrace the journey with all its highs and lows. Be ready to make many sacrifices, be ready to fight but make sure to pick your battles, get your priorities straight. And most importantly: be kind, the industry can be an extremely stressful environment, be there for your colleagues when they need to be supported, lift each other up.


Fulbright Foreign Student Scholarship (2017-2019)

Savannah College of Art and Design

Jude is a producer and the co-founder of Shaghab Films. Her latest film, Tala’vision has won numerous awards, and has recently won gold in the Student Oscars, read more here. Last month, Jude invited the Commission to attend a private screening of that film, you can see the post about it here.

Q: Share a recent project you are proud of?

I’m very proud of having produced Tala’Vision, a short film directed by Murad Abu Eisheh which depicts a day in the life of Tala who is trapped in her prison-like home to protect her from the war taking place in her country. The events of the day take a tragic turn when she innocently decides to steal a forbidden TV set. The film shows how a seemingly harmless decision will forever affect this child. Children do not have to lose their families to become traumatized. These children inevitably take these experiences with them and become broken adults. They are broken generations who often cannot escape the cycle of violence. The film has done well in the international scene, having recently won the Gold Award at the Student Oscars and First Prize at the Red Sea IFF among others.

Q: What is it like being a woman in the film industry?

Being a woman in many industries is unfortunately still challenging. Working in the film industry particularly poses a new set of challenges. Other than it being predominantly male oriented, it is extremely demanding and fast paced. The long hours, inconsistent flow of income and high stress make it hard to maintain a healthy work-life balance or make concrete future plans, especially when it comes to starting a family.

For me personally, I found myself having to work twice as hard to prove myself and to be taken seriously. In certain positions in the film crew, one needs to be assertive and a decision maker, in the beginning there was some resistance and certain crew members would question my judgment. However, hard work pays off especially in the film industry, news travels fast by word of mouth.

Jude on set (photo courtesy of Jude Kawwa)

Q: What advice would you give to people thinking about getting into media and filmmaking?

If you wish to get into media and filmmaking, make sure you it’s something you’re passionate about. The work hours are long and often the workload is stressful. That being said, it’s one of the most rewarding feelings, to watch something you worked very hard on come to fruition on the big screen. There is a lot of power and reach for the work that you do in media and film, therefore, always make sure what you want to say is coming through. And lastly, remember, we are stronger together. Filmmaking especially is the creative process of a collective. No one can do a film alone, so always ask and discuss ideas with your colleagues – This process is what makes certain films great.

There is a lot of power and reach for the work that you do in media and film, therefore, always make sure what you want to say is coming through.

Q: What is something you’re working on, or plan to work in in the upcoming years?

I’m currently working as the Creative Producer of the Emmy nominated “Ahlan Simsim”.  This is the regional edutainment program of Sesame Workshop. The program teaches children social and emotional development. We are currently in production of our 5th season and developing season 6. Children, especially in war-ridden countries or those affected by displacement, are the most vulnerable group in society, yet, they carry the key for development and growth for generations ahead. That is why my work on “Ahlan Simsim” is very dear to me.

Jude on the set of Ahlan Simsim (photo courtesy of Jude Kawwa)

We want to thank Hind, Rand and Jude for sharing their journeys with us, as well as the incredible advice that I'm sure many would benefit from. And as always, best of luck in all that is to come. You have made Jordan proud!

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