Raghad Mardini is the founder and director of Art Residence Aley (2012), an NGO that supports Syrian artists and curates exhibitions and performances worldwide. In Syria, Raghad was a professor of engineer and design at Damascus University. She also ran a business that restored many old houses in Damascus. After moving to Lebanon, she decided to rent and restore the old horse stable in Aley (Mount Lebanon), which evolved into the art residence, ARA. Two years later, ARA continues to host young artists on a monthly basis and provide them with the space and freedom to express themselves through art. Raghad holds a MS in Structural Engineering and BS in Civil Engineering from Damascus University.
Nidal Hassan is a Syrian director from Tartous. Nidal studied in Russia and Armenia. He has made several films, including True Stories about Love, Life, Death, and Sometimes Revolution and Absent Prayer.
Dani Abo Louh is a Syrian cinematographer and editor from Damascus. He studied in Russia and has lived in Lyon, France. Dani was a main editor for the Ussama Mohammad film Silver Waters.
Hamdi Jouini is a performer and film director from Tunis. He studied at the Faculty of Arts and Cinema Institute in Tunis. And has since performed in many local and international art festivals. Hamdi is also the founder of the street performing group: Fanni Oghman Anni. He was also a former ARA participant in January 2014.
Lina Al-Abed is a Palestinian journalist and filmmaker who left Damascus at the onset of the crisis to begin a new life in Beirut. She has made three films: Nour Alhuda, which won Best Syrian Film at Doxbox, a documentary festival in Damascus; Damascus, My First Kiss; and Damasacus. She is now part of a production company called SakaDo in Beirut.
Mirna Mounayar, born in Beirut, studied film making at the Lebanese Academy of Beautiful Arts (ALBA). She has written and directed a number of short films, including “Dirty Mirror,” awarded best short film at the European Film Festival in Beirut, 2009. And, the documentary, Kfarmatta, Forbidden Village, which won of best documentary in the Biennale of Student’s Film Festival in Tunisia, 2010. At the moment, Mirna works as a freelancer director and editor on several projects.
Kinan Azme, from Damascus, was the first Arab to win the premier prize at the 1997 Nicolai Rubinstein International Competition, Moscow. He is a graduate of New York’s Juilliard School, where he was a student of Charles Neidich.
Dinuke Wijerente was born in Sri Lankan. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2004 as a conductor, composer and pianist. His music contains many non-western influences. He studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in the UK, and at Juilliard in New York. He has been the Music Director for the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra since 2006, and held a 3-year appointment as Conductor-in-Residence with Symphony Nova Scotia.
Diala Esreb is a young freelance filmmaker and translator from Damascus, Syria. She recently directed a film called Methamphetamine, for an anti-drug campaign at her school, American Community School of Beirut.
Elham Kharbotli is a Lebanese student at Saint-Joseph University, Beirut, Lebanon, where she is working on her Masters in Interpretation. She has experience with the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross), Alakhbar, and the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
A special thanks to the artists in the film: Wissam Muases, Rebee Kiwan, Khaled Al-Boushi, Tareq Al-Jari, George Kubresli, Adel Daoud, Fadi Hamwi, Mohamad Omran, Majed Hamwi, Hiba Akkad, Reem Yasouf, Hasko Hasko, Iman Hasbani, Mohamad Labash, Mahmoud Majdal, Hamdi Jouini, and Kevork Mourad.