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Launched by Filmlab Palestine and Cinephilia Productions, Sunbird Stories is a state-of-the-art development and production program that aims to instigate the growth of imaginative and thought-provoking films for young audiences across the Arab World. 

With children and teens’ life being underrepresented on screen, the program is designed to stir up a genuine excitement in filmmakers to illustrate diversity by examining the significance of storytelling for young audiences and the power it holds in creating a positive change in the emotional and psychological fabric of the next generation of Arab youth. 

Sunbird Stories intends to develop six to eight narrative short films in the often overlooked genres – children, teen, family and coming-of-age – by emerging and up-and-coming Arab filmmakers. 

During the 8-week intensive residency, selected filmmakers will work in three segments to develop their projects towards production: screenwriting, directing child actors, and producing. 

Sunbird Stories will culminate in six to eight projects ready to advance into the production phase by equipping the teams with solid screenplays, directorial training, production packaging, financial and distribution plans. 

A jury of industry professionals will award two projects, each $10,000 prize plus in-kind production and post-production services. 


  • Applicant 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 Palestine (residing in Palestine or in the diaspora)
  • 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 Cinephilia X FilmLabPalestine Sunbird Stories”
  • Must complete the application form online by the specified deadline. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered. No exceptions. 
  • If awarded the production prize, applicant(s) must agree to follow the timeline of production set by FilmLab Palestine and Cinephilia to produce the film. Failure to do so will result in the withdrawal of the prize.  


  • Project must be a narrative short film
  • 15-20 minutes length 
  • Film must be produced within a budget of $10,000-$15,000 ( excluding in kind support)
  • Arabic is the main language of the film (Palestinian dialect)
  • 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 (minimum 3 pages - maximum 5 pages) 
  • A dialogue scene from the submitted project (1 page maximum) 
  • Biography(ies) of all team (150 words each)
  • Previous work (links of short film(s) or un-produced screenplay (for writers only)
  • Resume 


Two projects will be awarded the Sunbird Stories Production Prize of $10,000 (cash prize) each + in-kind services to facilitate production and post-production.


A table read for all the projects will be organized at the end of the program. Each filmmaker will cast their films to be read by actors (professional or non-professional). Filmmakers must direct the table read of their project. Each filmmaker will be given 20 minutes for the reading followed by 10 minutes of Q&A with the jury. The event will be open to the public (RSVP required).



  • Information webinar: July 8, 2020. (RSVP required, Fill the form below)
  • Selection Notification: July 24, 2020
  • Selection Announcement: August 1st, 2020
  • Program Orientation and Filmmakers Meet & Greet: August 3
  • Screenwriting Segment: August 4-27 (Every Tuesday and Thursday) 
  • Filmmaker x Young Audience Meetup: August 15 
  • Directing Segment: August 28-30 (intensive weekend with guest speakers)
  • Producing Segment: September 1- 24  (Every Tuesday and Thursday) 
  • Table read prep session and final screenplay revision: September 26
  • Table Read Event (Jury + Actors): September 28 
  • Prize Announcement: September 30

For any questions, please email: [email protected]