The idea was initiated back in 2017 by Thuraya Ismail – Mentor Arabia board member and CEO, actor Qays Sheikh Najib, and actress Nelly Karim – members of the Mentor Arabia Friends committee; due to the imminent need to support young Arab artists to unleash their talents and voice out their opinions. Soon enough, the idea evolved into a prominent regional initiative and a leading platform aimed at encouraging young talents to explore their artistic potential and create meaningful short films and songs; as well as providing them with a safe space to express their aspirations and views around pressing social and humanitarian issues.
The competition was launched in partnership with more than 80 strategic partners from local, regional, and international organizations and institutions, including Anghami, Royal Film Commission-Jordan, Zain Jordan, IEFTA, Sundance Film Festival; and a number of governmental and non-governmental entities, universities, academies, media agencies, and private companies.
The competition became very popular, as the number of young participants exceeded 4,000 and 32 winning emerging artists. Furthermore, the competition not only awarded the winners, but also provided technical masterclasses and workshops by top-notch artists and industry professionals; attracting so far more than 200 young attendees. Furthermore, the closing ceremony of the competition’s 1st edition was held in Jordan in 2017 under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II, Crown Prince of Jordan. The closing ceremony of the 2nd edition took place in Kuwait in 2019 under the patronage of the Minister of Information and Youth, and the closing ceremony of the 3rd edition was held in Amman in 2022 in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden.
The theme of this year’s competition 4th edition is ‘Youth Wellbeing’, which aims at shedding light on the challenges facing Arab youth, celebrating their strength and resilience, and giving them hope for a better future. It also aims at spreading awareness about prevention from risky behaviors, advocating for healthy lifestyles, encouraging art, innovation, and creativity, inspiring youth to excel in their careers, and providing promising talents with mentorship and guidance opportunities.
The competition targets talented young Arabs aged between 18 and 30 years old; and it consists of five main categories: narrative short films, documentary short films, PSA films, films in development, and songs. In addition, the competition jury includes esteemed artists, celebrities, and industry professionals respectively as follows: Abu, Ahmad Al Khatib, Amin Dora, Bashar Al-Shatti, Carla Aad, Chaker Khazaal, Daniella Rahmeh, Darin Sallam, Essam Youssef, Fayez Al Saeed, Hamad Alsarraf, Hend Sabri, Karess Bashar, Lamia Guiga, Lianne Llewellyn, Michel Fadel, Milad Abi Raad, Mohamed El-Bassiouni, Mohamed Hefzi, Mohammad Mashish, Nassif Zeytoun, Nizar Francis, Qays Sheikh Najib, Rahma Riad, Rahma Soliman, Ramy Koussa, Said El Marouk, Sam Lahoud, Sophie Boutros, and Souad Massi.
The awards ceremony is planned to take place in fall 2023 in Amman, Jordan to announce the winners; as well as host a set of inspirational panel discussions with the esteemed jury members. Additionally, a series of technical masterclasses will be offered for youth and conducted by industry professionals about filmmaking, directing, scriptwriting, acting, and composing.
Mentor Arabia is a regional non-governmental &non-profit foundation founded in 2006, which envisions an Arab world where children and youth are empowered to lead healthy lives and make sound decisions. It is chaired by HRH Prince Turki Bin Talal bin Abdulaziz, and it is a branch of Mentor International, founded in 1994 and headed by H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden; which includes Mentor USA, Mentor Sweden, Mentor Germany, Mentor Latvia, and Mentor Jordan.