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2nd Edition Sunbird Stories 2021 Films For Arab Youth & Children

Filmlab Palestine and Cinephilia Productions in partnership with El Gouna Film Festival & DROSOS FOUNDATION invite Arab film professionals to apply for the Sunbird Stories Program


Sunbird Stories is a state-of-the-art development and production program created by Filmlab and Cinephilia Productions and presented in partnership with by El Gouna Film Festival and DROSOS FOUNDATION.


With children and teens' life being underrepresented on screen, the program is designed to stir up genuine excitement in filmmakers, illustrating diversity by examining the significance of storytelling for young audiences. And spreading the power storytelling holds in creating a positive change in the emotional and psychological fabric of the Arab next generation.

Sunbird Stories intends to develop five narrative short films in the often-overlooked genres – children, teen, family and coming-of-age – by emerging and up-and-coming Arab filmmakers. 

During the 8-week intensive residency, selected filmmakers will work in three segments to develop their projects towards production: screenwriting, directing child actors, and producing. 


Sunbird Stories will culminate in 5 projects ready to advance into the production phase by equipping the teams with solid screenplays, directorial training, production packaging, financial and distribution plans. 

A jury of industry professionals will award one- two projects, each $20,000 award plus in-kind production and post-production services. Award Announcement will take place during the closing ceremony of Cine-Gouna Platform

To apply, please read the eligibility requirements and project criteria carefully prior to submitting your application.






  • Open call for applications: July 18
  • Information Webinar: to be announced soon (RSVP required. Email [email protected])
  • Application Deadline: August 10 
  • Finalist Notifications: August 15
  • Finalist Interviews: August 16-17 
  • Agreement signing: August 18
  • Selection announcement and press release: August 20
  • Program Orientation and Filmmakers Meet & Greet: August 21
  • Screenwriting Segment 1: August 23- September 17 (4 weeks, two sessions per week)
  • Directing Intensive segment: September 20-24 (two sessions + 2 guest speaker sessions)
  • Producing intensive segment: September 20 - October 8
  • Screenwriting segment follow up: October 11-13
  • El Gouna Film Festival dates: October 14-22
  • Jury Reading Rehearsal: October 20
  • Jury Event Reading: October 21
  • Jury Award announcement: October 22
  • Award agreement signing date: October 25

Eligibility Requirements: 

  • Applicants must be the writer or the writer/director of the project submitted (writers with no director attached to their projects are highly encouraged to apply.)
  • Applicant must be from the Arab World (residing in The Arab World).
  • Must be in development of a narrative short film screenplay targeting a young audience (coming of age, youth story, age 11-15)
  • Must have a 3-page treatment of the proposed project
  • Co-writing teams are eligible to apply. 
  • Must have written or written/directed at least one short film 
  • Must be able to commit and attend all the program sessions and activities
  • Must agree to mention in the credit of the completed film “Developed and produced in Filmlab Palestine, Cinephilia Productions and El Gouna Film Festival Sunbird Stories”
  • Must complete the application form online by the specified deadline. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered. No exceptions. 
  • If awarded the production award, applicant(s) must agree to follow the timeline of production set by Filmlab Palestine, Cinephilia productions and El Gouna Film Festival to produce the film. Failure to do so will result in the withdrawal of the award.  



  • The Project must be a narrative short film
  • 15-20 minutes length 
  • The Film must be produced within a budget of $20,000 ( excluding in-kind support)
  • Arabic is the main language of the film
  • The main character is a child or teenager (Age 8-15)



  • Logline (2 sentences)
  • Synopsis (150 words)
  • Intention Note: Why do you want to make this film? Why do you want to tell this story? (200 words)
  • Creative Statement: What is your vision of the world in your film? (200 words)
  • Short essay: Write about a film that inspired you and left an impact on you as a child and why. In your opinion, what is your concept of a film for children & youth? (200 words) 
  • Treatment ( 3  -  5 pages) 
  • A dialogue scene from the submitted project (1-page maximum) 
  • Biography(ies) of all team (150 words each)
  • Previous work (links of short film(s) or un-produced screenplay (for writers only)
  • Resume 



One to two projects will be awarded the Sunbird Stories Production Award of $20,000 dollars (cash award) each + in-kind services to facilitate production and post-production.



A table read for all the projects will be organized at the end of the program during the Cine Gouna Platform. Each filmmaker will cast their films to be read by actors (professional or non-professional). Filmmakers must direct the table read of their project. Each filmmaker will be given 20 minutes for the reading followed by 10 minutes of Q&A with the jury.



For any questions, please email: [email protected]