Director: Francois Verster
Highlights Highlights Highlights
This richly kaleidoscopic film is an observational documentary, concert film, political meditation, and visual translation of an ever-popular symphonic and literary classic
Director François Verster is an independent Emmy-awarded filmmaker
Filming took place between 2010 and 2012 and ran parallel to the events of the Arab Spring in Egypt and Turkey
Received support from six film funding institutions and won more than six awards from international film festivals
2014/ South Africa110 min/ Documentary, Drama, History
Original Title
Helm Shahrazad
Available on:
THE DREAM OF SHAHRAZAD explores recent social and political events in Egypt, Turkey, and Lebanon using the fabled storytelling princess Shahrazad of Arabian Nights as a metaphor to explore how creativity and political articulation can stand against oppression.
Weaving together a web of music, politics, and storytelling, the film follows a series of unforgettable characters, all of whom draw their inspiration from the tales of Arabian Nights.

Screenwriter: François Verster
DOP: François Verster
Editor: François Verster

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Production Company(ies)
Middle West Films
Undercurrent Film and Television
Fireworx Media
Melia Films
Hakaya Regional Network

Shameela Seedat Neil Brandt Wael Omar Lucas Rosant Didem Pekum Fleur Knopperts

film festivals
Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, Netherlands
Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London, UK
Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival, Egypt
Arab Film Festival, Brazil
Sunny Side of the Doc, France
Luxor African Film Festival, Egypt
Durban International Film Festival, South Africa
Avanca Film Festival, Portugal
Malmö Arab Film Festival, Sweden
South African Film and Television Awards, South Africa
Syndey Film Festival, Australia
film awards
Best Documentary in Progress Award at the Sunny Side of the Doc
Al-Husseini Abu-Deif/Artwatch Africa Award for Best Freedom Film at the Luxor African Film Festival
Best South African Documentary at the Durban International Film Festival
Best Film at the Avanca Film Festival
Certificate of Appreciation at the Malmö Arab Film Festival
Best Documentary Film and Best Directing in a Documentary at the South African Film and Television Awards
"These individual stories may initially seem a bit too kaleidoscopic in their sheer diversity, but Verster manages to foreground his characters’ undaunted desire to keep telling stories and creating art in the face of inhuman oppression."
Laurie Chen — Savage

" A visual symphony about nations confronting their leaders."
Rania Youssef — Thaqafat

"The enthralling music piece acts as a befitting background to the situation in Egypt whilst it gives a poetic lens to the various stories."
Cléo Fatoorehchi — Opinion Internationale

"The eye behind the camera is always silent - it graciously accepts its role as observer, presenting us with images free of personal commentary, hence allowing us to determine their meaning for ourselves."
Sally Vusi — Dynamic Africa