For our documentary short created in partnership with WhatsApp, The Lab at Anonymous Content is proud to introduce you to our outside collaborators who brought not only their next level talent and passion but, generously, their personal experiences to tell the Ayenda FC story as authentically as possible.
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Spotlight on: Director Amber Fares
Behind the camera, this was led by award-winning director Amber Fares, a Lebanese Canadian documentary filmmaker whose recent projects include “Reckoning with Laughter (The New Yorker 2021), “Convergence: Courage in a Crisis (Netflix 2021), Boycott (DocNYC 2021), and “And She Could Be Next” (PBS 2020). Amber’s films have won numerous awards and have played in film festivals around the world, including TIFF, Sheffield, Hot Docs, IDFA, CPH:Dox and Doc NYC. Amber was a 2019 Sundance Momentum Fellow, 2014 Sundance Catalyst participant, 2014 Sundance Institute Edit and Story Lab and 2012 Sundance fellowship.
In her own words: “No one is a refugee until the moment they have to flee. The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was not just a news story. It was a dream-crusher for countless Afghan girls who—until then—believed they had a viable future in their country. My hope is that this film will give voice to those who are forced to leave everything they have ever known for an uncertain future, and inspire those who can support the girls as they resettle in Portugal and continue on their quest for football greatness.”
Spotlight on: Director of Photography Daisy Zhou
Daisy Zhou is a cinematographer and director based in Brooklyn whose work focuses on the relationship with films on dance, gender and sexuality, and identity. Growing up between Shanghai and Pennsylvania, the one constant in her life was making art & trying to grapple with the eclectic worlds she was experiencing. For WE ARE AYENDA, Daisy turned her camera to capturing the sheer determination and unwavering spirit of these young athletes, offering a unique perspective into their lives.
In 2018, Daisy was listed as AdWeek’s Top 100 Creatives as one of the Top 15 Film and TV Directors raising the standard for storytelling. She was the only director in Cannes Young Director Award 2018 showcase to have two films shortlisted this year: Janelle Monae on Afrofuturism with Spotify, and Nike’s Be True campaign with Leiomy Maldonaldo. In 2019, she finished work as a 2nd unit DOP for a Lions Gate narrative feature “Antebellum” starring Janelle Monae- and has since shot campaigns for Gillette, Comfort, Aston Martin, Renault, Citreon, Ford and Apple.
In her own words: “It’s apparent to me now more than ever how every act of goodness that might go unnoticed is really the result of an incredible amount of courage, resilience, and insurmountable love from individuals, every day, past failures, past harrowing realities, past international neglect and apathy. I’m so honored to lend a hand in telling the story of team AYENDA.”
Spotlight on Producer Amanda Naseem
Amanda Naseem is an NYC-based independent film producer, commercial line producer, and short film programmer for the Woodstock Film Festival. She is currently producing the feature documentary GENTLE BY BIRTH in which filmmaker Doree Simon confronts her brother’s fatal opioid overdose by investigating stigma as the unspoken barrier to his recovery. She produced the documentary BORRANDO LA FRONTERA about an artist who imagines a world without walls by making the US/Mexico border wall disappear (HSDFF ’18, PRAGDA North American distributor), as well as the documentary LET’S TALK ABOUT YOU, AMBER MARK, which follows a pop artist with a complicated upbringing just as her career is taking off (VICE TV broadcast). She produced the critically-acclaimed web series, THE OUTS, named Paper Magazine’s “Best Web Series Ever” and The Atlantic’s “Best Television Episodes of 2013” before going on to produce a new series with the same creative team called WHATEVER THIS IS. The pilot episode was named a Vimeo Staff Pick, and the series was named Indiewire’s “Best Drama Web Series of 2013.” In 2015, she co-produced Marc Meyers’ narrative feature, HOW HE FELL IN LOVE (LAFF ’15). She is currently producing several feature documentary and scripted projects, in addition to freelance line producing.
Previously, Amanda spent half a decade as a Supervising Producer at Vice Media where she produced premium documentary series, branded content campaigns, commercials and music videos filmed all over the world. She also served as Director of Exhibitor Relations at Adopt Films, theatrically distributing internationally award-winning films from Cannes, TIFF, NYFF, and the Berlinale.
In her own words: “As a documentary filmmaker, it’s my privilege and responsibility to enable the girls to tell their stories authentically. Their personal narratives in turn put a face on the global crisis of those who are forced to flee their only home. The girls and their families need ongoing support, and it’s my hope that our film inspires people to invest in the long-term success of their lives and football dreams. Visit afghangirls.soccerspace.org to learn more.”
Spotlight on Photographer Razan Alzayani
Among the incredible women who worked on this project was Photographer and filmmaker Razan Alzayani, who captured the team in her compelling portraiture style. Razan’s work focuses her work and passion documenting stories and themes from the Middle East and North Africa. She has spent the past decade in the region as a journalist working in news and documentary storytelling working for the Associated Press and VICE among others. Her work has been published on major platforms such as the BBC, Bloomberg, Monocle and The Guardian. She worked with Anthony Bourdain on the Dubai episode of NO RESERVATIONS. She is the founder of Kerning Cultures, a podcast telling radio documentaries from the region.
In her own words: “I aimed to capture the relentless spirit of these young athletes as they carry both their resolve and vulnerability with so much grace.”