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Photos by Mohamed Badarne.
Stories in service of humanity
Hakawati © 2022 All Rights Reserved
Is a first generation Syrian-Armenian American born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. Having received an education in Cinema and Television Arts with a focus on Digital Media Management & Marketing, he has experience in talent management, casting, event coordination, film production, social media, marketing, and fashion. He has also had prior experience as a contributing member of the Armenian education and cultural society, Hamazkayin. His most recent interests have centered on his role as a director in digital tech, focused on business development. Over the years, Garo has built and fostered relationships with some of the largest luxury jewelry and fashion brands & stores across the globe. With his distinctive background and experience, Garo joins the “Azad” team as Associate Producer.
Is a Syrian-American actor and puppeteer currently based in the US. Working in theatre, puppetry, and traditional art for over 12 years. He worked on the traditional British puppet play ‘Punch and Judy’, Syrian, Turkish, and Greek Karagöz shadow play, and the Italian Commedia dell’Arte.
He has debuted shows in Berlin, London, Barcelona, and New York City, along with teaching workshops at international puppet festivals. Has taught workshops and led panels on shadow theatre and intangible cultural heritage art forms at Northwestern University, the University of Texas, and the University of New York.
Sayeed designs and directs puppetry performances, and has performed as a musician across the United States. He has recorded soundtracks as a musician, director, and sound designer. He is a board member of UNIMA.
Born in Damascus and raised between England and Syria, Ahmad came to the US in the late 90’s to pursue a career in film. He got his start at Strand Releasing and Fox Searchlight as an assistant producer, then as a segment producer for the Show “New Morning” on Hallmark Channel. He then went on to produce a host of award winning documentaries and independent films under his banner, Zahra Pictures, including the TV documentary “On Common Grounds” (Hallmark Ch.), the feature film “American East” starring Emmy Winner, Tony Shalhoub, and released by MGM, and the trailblazing feature film, “Three Veils”. Ahmad’s work reflects his diverse upbringing and goal to create entertainment with a strong social message and gives a platform for diverse and emerging talent. Ahmad hold a degree in medicine from Damascus University and UCLA film & tv studies. With his unique background and experience, he joins the “Azad” team as Executive Producer.
Is a first generation Syrian-Armenian-American actor/writer/producer with bases in Aleppo, Syria; Berlin, Germany; LA, California and Yerevan, Armenia.
As an actress, stage credits include world premieres at Yale Repertory Theatre, The Goodman Theatre, The American Conservatory Theatre and others. She starred in The Journey, the first American independent film shot in Armenia (winner, Audience Award Milan Film Festival, 2002). As a writer her first feature film script, The First Full Moon, was a 2011 Sundance/RAWI Screenwriters Lab participant and 2012 Dubai Film Connection/Festival Project.
Ms. Tatoyan co-founded Disruptive Narrative, a new social justice/social enterprise production company with International Human Rights Barrister Jennifer Robinson of Doughty Street Chambers. In addition, Ms. Robinson and Ms. Tatoyan co-founded Hakawati, a non- profit storytelling vehicle focusing on elevating the voices of frontline and marginalized communities.
Ms. Tatoyan served on the World Cinema Jury of the Duhok IFF in Iraqi Kurdistan (2016) and as Rudolf Arnheim Guest Artist Professor at Humboldt University in Berlin, (2017). Speaking engagements include: “Storytelling as Spiritual Vehicle: A response to the Armenian Genocide and Syrian Refugee Crisis” at The Brandenburger Gate Foundation, Berlin; “Trauma, Magic, Love: Being in Aleppo with Karagöz Puppets, My Ancestors and the Spirit of Osman Kavala” at CMES Harvard University.
Ms. Tatoyan is a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and received her yoga teaching certification in Goa, India.
Is a French-Tunisian-American award-winning creative director and filmmaker based in LA, New York and London, working for the past two decades at the leading edge where film, technology, and art intersect.
During the mid 1990s Jeremy was at the epicenter of the digital film revolution as a lead curator/producer for RES Media Group. His journey then took him to the interactive theater world with real world social games company Hide&Seek. In 2010 he joined Vimeo as Creative Director of Film and Video where he co-created the Vimeo Festival+ Awards program which had the first ever projection mapped award show. He also co-created Vimeo On Demand, the platform that allowed creatives to choose how and where they will sell their work online. Since his departure from Vimeo he returned to his passions of directing and producing independent experiences and films. As a curator at large to the industry, he has been working in the immersive world of experience design, VR, AR, and film.
Jeremy has consulted and worked with some of the world’s leading brands including: Nike, Palm Pictures, Burning Man, PlayStation, SXSW, Sundance, Cinelan, Canon, British Film Institute, Planet Home, Diesel, Apple, TED, Tribeca Enterprises, Arts Alliance, Panasonic and Samsung to name a few.
The composer, producer, vocalist, songwriter and videographer KÁRYYN draws from the worlds of classical, pop, and electronic music to formulate a unique sound that explores her Armenian and Syrian heritage while delving into uncharted sonic territories that connect personal, scientific and spiritual dimensions of creative expression, reaching towards something universal. Her songs have been featured in multiple films and acclaimed TV series for Netflix, HBO and in cinemas worldwide. Most recently, her track “BINARY” was featured during the unveiling of Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro.
She composed for the abstract opera “of Light” directed by Samantha Shay and supervised by Marina Abramović, and has an ongoing collaboration with Frank Weidemann of the house/techno duo Âme, which yielded the single “The Witness”, a #1 hit on German club charts when it was released on Innervisions in September 2021. Now based between London and Los Angeles, she is finishing the follow-up to her debut album “The Quanta Series”, released in 2019 on Mute Records.
Greek oudist, guitarist and composer Dimitris “Jimmy” Mahlis has become known in musical circles as an eclectic interpreter of many musical traditions. Having a thorough knowledge of both eastern and western musical theory, he has developed a playing style on several instruments which is both earthy yet intricate. As a composer, his pieces have set a standard in cross cultural pollination. Some credits include: Perla Batalla, A.R. Rahman, Ramesh Misra, Airto Moreira, Freddie Hubbard, Hassan Hakmoun, Niyaz, Kevyn Lettau, Thanassis Papakonstantinou, Dionysios Savvopoulos, Mamak Khadem. Dimitris is featured in a number of recent films including Oscar winner “Argo”, “ The Angel” and “ The Power Of The Game.”
is a writer, civil society activist, photographer, and producer born and raised in Aleppo, Syria. He is the founder of Warsha Production House, the first independent cultural production house in Aleppo. Warsha creates a variety of artistic, educational, entertaining programs related to Syrian cultural heritage playing a key role in restoring the legacy of Aleppo.
Antoine represents Aleppo in the UNESCO conference to safeguard Syrian National Heritage. He created the Piano Program: a social and religious dialogue program for all Syrians to heal from the war and create a more coherent society. Mr. Makdis is a story consultant for Three Apples fell from Heaven, a TV series in development with Disruptive Narrative.
Is an Australian barrister at Doughty Street Chambers in London specializing in human rights, media, public, and international law. She has dedicated her career to human rights, building power in social movements and supporting marginalised communities. Jen has acted in cases for individuals, governments and non-governmental organisations before international, regional and British courts, including before the International Court of Justice. Her work often involves UN engagement on international law and human rights issues. Her cases include acting for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, for the BBC World Service in respect of the persecution of BBC Persian, for the family of murdered Maltese journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, and for the Nobel Peace Prize nominated leader of the West Papuan independence movement, Benny Wenda. She also recently provided expert evidence on international law to the UN inquiry into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In 2019, she was recognised as International Pro Bono Barrister of the Year in the United Kingdom. Jen spent five years developing a global human rights program with the Bertha Foundation that has invested millions in training the next generation of human rights lawyers, funding strategic human rights litigation and investing in documentary films raising awareness about human rights issues. Together with Sona Tatoyan, she co-founded Disruptive Narrative, a production company dedicated to telling social justice stories. She has postgraduate degrees from Oxford University where she was a Rhodes scholar and speaks fluent Indonesian and Malay.
Is a member of the Kichwa community of Serena in the Ecuadorian Amazon. As a climate activist and indigenous rights defender he focuses on efforts to build a more just and sustainable society. Like many indigenous people at a young age he had no choice but to learn about the struggles of his people and started working with local grassroots organizations to create awareness about the environmental and cultural impacts caused by the oil industry. He is the Founder of the HAKHU Project, a young organization that supports community-based economic initiatives as a way to fight against exploitative oil and mining development in the Ecuadorian Amazon. He currently serves and works with many organizations locally and internationally bridging indigenous community initiatives and international support.
Holds a degree from Concordia University (Montreal, Canada) in Communications Studies specializing in Film and TV Production. In 2002, following his 5-year tenure as Field Executive for Scouts Canada’s Quebec Provincial Council, Raffi directed his expertise towards Armenia as the Program Director for the Land and Culture Organization (LCO) where he implemented the promotion, outreach and expansion of this multinational organization. Raffi was hand picked to become the Commercial Manager for VivaCell Mobile Operator in 2005. His input was vital to the implementation of the company’s commercial operations. In 2006, Raffi founded and directed Deem Communications (DEEM), a full-service marketing communications agency. During this time, he has realized many national projects including branding and national campaigns. Since March 2017, Raffi leads the Branding Gyumri project which has evolved into a Smart City concept to be implemented with local authorities and international groups. Currently, as the Creative Director of DEEM, Raffi has gained harty insights of Armenia’s marketing and communication industry. A global thinker, Raffi communicates in five languages – English, French, Armenian, Arabic and Italian.
Was born in Armenia and raised in Los Angeles. She combines both worlds: the American filmmaking technique and international, independent spirit. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Film Production from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. She was a producer and director of over 60 short films and productions. Her documentary The Other Side of Home became the first Armenian Genocide film to ever make the shortlist of the Academy Awards. Being a grandchild of survivors of the Armenian Genocide she believes that cinema is an important medium which needs to be used wisely as it has the ability to heal people and make a positive impact on our world. Her passion is telling unique human stories that connect people and move beyond the boundaries of nationality, gender, and religion and to transform the darkness into light.
Is an independent curator, cultural manager and producer, currently based in Armenia, who organizes community-based art projects with the goal of using public space and contemporary art to meet local needs. Kamay curated two major exhibits tackling the issues of Syrian refugees in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh – “The Newcomers: Syrians in Armenia”(2016) and “Home to Home”(2017). She is the founder of the first international contemporary art festival of Stepanakert – Artsakh Fest, aimed at overcoming the isolation of the conflict-ridden region and revitalising the abandoned State Drama Theater which once used to be the community center of the city. Currently she’s working on establishing an experimental art residency for mothers in arts called “Juggling Dinosaurs”, looking for ways art workers can reconcile their artistic practice with motherhood.
Was born and raised in Amman, Jordan. He speaks fluent Arabic, English and conversational Spanish, and earned his B.A. from Stanford University in International Relations with Minors in Economics and Energy Resource Engineering. Currently Managing Partner at RANCO Holdings, Shaker is also the Co-Founder and Director of Strategy of Wings of Hope Foundation, a non-profit organization that is also a founding member of Naua, the region’s first social impact online platform focusing on philanthropy and volunteerism. Shaker also serves on the Board of Directors of several public and private companies. An entrepreneur at heart and an active angel investor and advisor to several technology-driven, socially-impactful start-ups, Shaker is also passionate about the creative process of expression, particularly when the message is profound.