Fatima AlBanawi is an internationally acclaimed actress, filmmaker, and writer from Saudi Arabia. This multi-hyphenate creative who aspires to deepen the conversation between social impact and the arts is the founder of The Other Story Project - Jeddah city’s public space mover and shaker since 2015. The project has collected almost 5000 real life stories from strangers and packaged many into art productions, such as the short film "A Blink of an Eye". From the first touring Biennale in the world, inaugurated in Buenos Aires, to Palais de Tokyo in Paris, AlBanawi travels locally and internationally to perform human stories. Though a challenging endeavor in a private society, she believes in the power of storytelling to channel vulnerable and intimate conversations, making the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris call her the (Sophie Calle of Saudi Arabia) upon the warm reception of her performance "Amours Saoudiennes" in 2018. That year too, she was selected as a Next Generation Leader by Time Magazine for her unique storytelling ventures.
AlBanawi received a masters in Theological Studies from Harvard University while focusing her scholarly writings and research on Women Representation and Arab Identity in both film and literature. She clearly combines her passion for ethnography and creative writing in her first book (work in progress), The Other Story, a social memoire weaved with the stories she had gathered from strangers in her hometown of Jeddah between 2015-2018. Unearthing psycho-social themes creatively is not new to her; it actually started in 2010 when AlBanawi co-founded the Theatre of the Oppressed chapter in Jeddah and staged one of its plays at Harvard later on. In 2019, her theatre work as director and actress in "The Straight Circle Play" has caught attention and made headlines for surpassing the classic elite structure as it moved to the streets of the city.
Indeed AlBanawi, the actress, is no less important. In 2016, she became internationally recognized for her debut in the award winning Saudi feature film, Barakah Meets Barakah, which helped pave the way for Saudi Arabian cinema. She continues to act as an instinctive response to her passion for the profession with an incentive to reshape the public narrative about human relations. She starred in "Bashar" series, "A Blink of an Eye" short, "Going South", a short film that made it to the renowned Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival. She made a special appearance in "Roll’em" feature film, "Om AlQalayed" series (a Shahid Original), and most recently in Netflix's up and coming "Paranormal" Egyptian series. She is currently filming "Champions" feature film.
Her role as a juror in film festivals in addition to the aforementioned come to inform her screenwriting practice and infuse her films with intimacy and originality. In 2020, AlBanawi's first feature film screenplay "Basma" was selected as one of twelve to be developed by Torino Film Lab in affiliation with the Red Sea Film Festival. More so, she wrote and directed her first short film Until We See Light in 2020. The short is part of the Omnibus Feature Film "Becoming" that was made in collaboration with RSFF. And with the postponement of several cinematic events that year, AlBanawi hoped to contribute a case study for filmmakers during the Covid-19 global pandemic when she co-wrote, co-directed and starred in Al-Shak Series (her second Shahid Original), which she shot fully from home during the lockdown.
Today's leading actress opens the doors to her studio "Alf Wad" [Meaning: A Thousand Valley], as an acting coach, making it a hub to build and foster the actors and film community in her country. She has been trained in the Undesirable Elements Theatre Method by Ping Chong & Company, in addition to Improv by both, Improv Playhouse of San Francisco and Lebanese award winner director, Lucien Bourjeily, and in Acting Methods by both Luke Lehner Studios and member of the Actor's Studio in LA, Gerald James.
AlBanawi has been featured for her acting and storytelling work, and more recently for her directing and writing endeavors, in many media outlets, including headlines in the Financial Times, The Reporter, Variety, France 24, and from American and Italian, to Egyptian and Saudi channels.