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Filmlab Palestine and Cinephilia Productions in partnership with El Gouna Film Festival 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.

Filmlab Palestine has created awareness on the need for quality children's film productions in the Arab region since 2014 as part of its Next Generation program and addressed the specific challenges of screenwriting for children's films for the last three years. The turnaround came in 2020 in collaboration with Cinephilia Productions. Together, we launched the Sunbird Stories 1st Edition program, which addressed the needs of the film community and sparked enthusiasm among filmmakers, exploring the importance of storytelling for young audiences. After the first successfully completed workshop in Palestine, we jointly decided to open the « initiative » to the Arab region, bringing the topic to the forefront of the regional film scene which resulted in the collaboration with El Gouna Film Festival. 

Five promising productions in the genres of children, teens, family, and coming-of-age will be selected from the dedicated Arab participants' projects to work in three segments to develop their projects towards production: screenwriting, directing child actors, and producing. 

A jury of film industry professionals will award one to two projects with $20,000 each. We are pleased that with the announcement of the results during the closing ceremony of the Cine-Gouna platform, the project will receive its regional recognition and attention.

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



  • Open Call for Submissions: April 10 
  • Informative Webinar: to be announced soon (RSVP required. Email [email protected])
  • Application Deadline: May 25
  • Finalist Notifications: June 2
  • Finalist Interview: June 5-7
  • Agreements Signing: June 10
  • Selection announcement: June 15 
  • Filmmakers Meet & Greet: June 18
  • Screenwriting Segment 1: June 20 - July 30 (6 weeks)
  • Directing Segment: August 1 -14 (2 weeks)
  • Producing Segment: August 22 - September 16 (4 weeks)
  • Screenwriting Segment Follow up: September 26 - 30 (1 week)
  • El Gouna Film Festival dates: October 13-21

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. 

  • Participation fees: 250 USD per team upon selection.

  • 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

  • 10-15 minutes length 

  • The Film must be produced within a budget of $20,000.

  • 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:  the writer , the director and the producer (Max: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 to facilitate production and post-production.


Pitching sessions of all the projects will be organized at the end of the program during the Cine Gouna Platform. Each filmmaker will be given 20 minutes for the pitching followed by Q&A.




For any questions, please email: [email protected]

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