The Hakawati Project: The Syrian Crisis

YEREVAN—The Los-Angeles/Berlin based non-profit Hakawati (storyteller, Arabic) has announced that it will be cooperating with the Sundance Institute and Film Independent to organize and launch a two-month comprehensive filmmaking lab for those impacted by the war in Syria called The Hakawati Project (THP). To be hosted in Armenia, THP will provide a platform to nurture talent and give voice to Syrians, Kurds, Lebanese, Jordanians, Turks, Iraqis and Armenians who share the trauma and burden of the Syrian war in a myriad of ways.

Seven labs (screenwriting, producing, directing, cinematography, acting, film music & sound design and editing) will then lead to the production of six short films that elucidate the Syrian crisis in fresh, unseen ways and empower these voices by helping democratize their own narrative. This process will be healing and educating for both the talent involved and the receiving audience among the international community.

“With this project our team of storytellers and activists will work to help empower the expression and narratives of those impacted by the Syrian crisis,” notes THP co-founder, Sundance fellow, actress/writer/producer Sona Tatoyan. “This is a deeply personal issue for me. As a descendent of survivors of the Armenian Genocide, since I was a child, I’ve felt acutely that who holds the story holds the power—because we live in a world that runs on story. Now with immediate family impacted by the current war in Syria, I knew I had to help amplify the voices of those often silenced in mainstream media. My hope is that through the creative, collaborative process that is cinema THP builds bridges between the communities fractured by this crisis and the global community at large,” concludes Tatoyan.

Various reputable agencies and institutions in the host country and safe haven of Armenia have been approached to collaborate in the frames of the project, including TUMO Center for Creative Technologies and The Independent Filmmakers’ Community in Armenia. As a result of the project, six short films will be made under the mentorship of A-list international talent which will later be screened globally.

About the project: The Hakawati Project is a two-month comprehensive filmmaking lab aiming to foster the creative expression and sharpen the filmmaking tools of those impacted by the Syrian war, and offer alternative narratives to the ones mainstream media amplifies. In collaboration with The Sundance Institute, the project aims to bring together those impacted by the Syrian crisis and support them in developing their filmmaking skills. The Hakawati Project is a sponsored project of Film Independent, a non-profit independent media arts organization. 

About the organization: Hakawati is a Los Angeles/Berlin based social justice vehicle and non-profit sister company of Disruptive Narrative exploring the intersections of storytelling and spirituality. Hakawati integrates the work of professional artists, renowned spiritual teachers, innovators, scientists and therapists with a commitment to transform trauma through authentic storytelling.