The Dream of Shahrazad

Director: Francois Verster
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This richly kaleidoscopic film is an observational documentary, concert film, political meditation, and visual translation of an ever-popular symphonic and literary classic.
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.
François Verster is an independent Emmy awarded filmmaker.
The Dream of Shahrazad Poster
2014/ South Africa110 min/ Documentary, Drama, History
Original Title
Helm Shahrazad
The Dream of Shahrazad explores recent social and political events in Egypt, Turkey and Lebanon through the famous story collection, The 1001 Nights (aka Arabian Nights), using the fabled storytelling princess Shahrazad 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 1001 Nights.
Screenwriter: Francois Verster
DOP: Francois Verster
Editor: Francois 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 (D-CAF), Egypt
Arab Film Festival, Brazil
Sunny Side of the Doc, France
Luxor African Film Festival (LAFF), Egypt
Durban International Film Festival, South Africa
Avanca Film Festival, Portugal
Malmö Arab Film Festival (MAFF), Sweden
South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs), South Africa
film awards
Best Documentary in Progress Award at the Sunny Side of the Doc, France
Al-Husseini Abu-Deif/Artwatch Africa Award for Best Freedom Film at the Luxor African Film Festival (LAFF), Egypt
Best South African Documentary at the Durban International Film Festival, South Africa
Best Film at the Avanca Film Festival, Portugal
Certificate of Appreciation at the Malmö Arab Film Festival (MAFF), Sweden
Best Documentary Film and Best Directing in a Documentary at the South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs), South Africa
“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