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Sunbird Stories 2023 Program Description:
Filmlab Palestine and Cinephilia Productions in partnership with the British Council Palestine and the Danish House in Palestine invite Arab film professionals to apply for the 4th edition of the Sunbird Stories Program – a program that aims to develop and produce up to five imaginative and thought-provoking short films for Arabic-speaking children audiences by professional filmmakers. 
With children's and teens' life being underrepresented on screen, Sunbird Stories is designed to stir up genuine excitement in filmmakers, illustrating diversity by examining the significance of storytelling for young audiences and spreading the power that storytelling holds to create a positive change in the emotional and psychological fabric of the Arab next generation.
During the 3-months intensive program, selected filmmakers will work in three segments to develop their projects toward 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, and financial and distribution plans.
A jury of industry professionals will award one to two projects, each $20,000 award.
To apply, please read the eligibility requirements and project criteria carefully prior to submitting your application.
Open Call for Submissions: March 15
Informative Webinar: April 15 (RSVP required. Email [email protected])
Application Deadline: May 15
Finalist Notifications: May 22
Finalist Interview: May 26-27
Agreements Signing: May 29-30
Selection announcement: June 1
Filmmakers Meet & Greet: June 3
Screenwriting Segment (Mentor): June 5 - 26 (part 1) & July 10 - 20 (part 2)
During the screenwriting segment, participants work with the screenwriting mentor on developing the characters, the dramatic arc and structure, polishing dialogs, world-building, and character voicing. At the end of this segment, participants are expected to have an advanced screenplay draft. 
Directing Segment (Mentor): August 1-14
During the directing segment, participants work with the directing mentor on developing the visual language and lookbook, developing a shot list, and identifying and planning for technical challenges. 
Masterclasses Segment: August 15-31 (4 guest speakers)
During the masterclass segment, participants attend several masterclasses with industry professionals to discuss aspects of the film craft such as editing, sound design, music, directing actors, and cinematography. 
Producing Segment (Mentor): September 11-30 
During the producing segment, participants work with the producing mentor on breaking down the script, creating a financial plan, a budget, and a distribution strategy. 
Pitch Training & Final script follow-up: October 9-19
During two sessions, participants will train for the jury pitching session with the mentors and will receive final notes on their screenplays. 
Jury Pitching and award announcement: October 24 - November 1 
The jury pitching event will take place during the 10th edition of Palestine Cinema Days followed by the award announcement during the closing ceremony of the festival. 
  • Applicants must be the writer or the writer/director of the project submitted. Projects with no directors attached are not eligible. (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 or in the diaspora).
  • Must be in the development of a narrative short film screenplay targeting children and young audiences (coming of age, youth story, age 11-15) (age 8-14).
  • Must have a 3-page treatment of the proposed project.
  • Co-writing teams are eligible to apply. A director must be attached at the time of submission; a producer must be attached to complete the program.
  • Must have written or written/directed at least two short films that have premiered at international film festivals. 
  • Must commit to and attend all the program sessions and activities. Failure to attend the sessions will result in award disqualification. 
  • Must agree to mention in the credit of the completed film “Developed and produced in Filmlab Palestine and Cinephilia Productions Sunbird Stories”
  • Must complete the application form online by the deadline. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered. No exceptions.
  • Participation fees: 250 USD per team upon selection.
  • If awarded the production prize, the applicant(s) must agree to follow the timeline of production set by FilmLab Palestine and Cinephilia Productions 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.
  • Arabic is the main language of the film.
  • The main character is a child or teenager (Age 8-14).
  • The story must qualify as a children's film to be screened to children's audiences (films about children but not targeting children audience are not eligible).
  • 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 (minimum 3 pages - maximum 5 pages).
  • A dialogue scene from the submitted project (1-page maximum).
  • Biography(ies) of all team members (150 words each).
  • Previous work (links to at least two short films or un-produced screenplay (for writers only).
A Professional Resume.


One project will be awarded the Sunbird Stories Program Award of $20,000 dollars (cash award) each + in-kind post-production services.

Participants will present their projects in a pitch format (in person or virtual) to a jury of industry professionals who will evaluate the screenplay's merit and the overall vision. 


For any questions, please email: [email protected]