Fatima Albanawi is an internationally acclaimed actress and storyteller whose starring role in the feature Barakah Meets Barakah in 2016, was foundational for Saudi cinema. From a naive newlywed in Going South short film, and a Parisian actress from the 70's in the feature film Roll'em, to a selfish theatre superstar in Bashar series, Al-Banawi's cinematic appearances continue to raise the bar and boost the industrialization wheel of this sector in her country.
In 2020, she wrote and directed her first short film Until We See Light. The short is part of an Omnibus feature film that was made in collaboration with the Red Sea International Film Festival. In the same year, Al-Banawi surprised both local and Arab audiences in what was considered a case study for filmmakers during Covid-19, when she co-wrote, co-directed and starred in Al-Shak serial drama, a Shahid.net original, which she shot fully from home during the global pandemic. Al-Banawi is working on her first feature screenplay, Basma, and her social memoir that she hopes to publish soon.
She also part in Paranormal that achieved a huge success among audiences inside and outside the Arab world, premiering on Netflix.
She directed several performance pieces and theatre plays that toured internationally. From the first touring Biennale in the world inaugurated in Buenos Aires, to Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Al-Banawi 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) after the great reception of her performance Amours Saoudiennes. This passion for psycho-social development and the arts is not new; it started in 2010 when Al-Banawi 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 also caught attention and made headlines for surpassing the classic elite structure as it moved to the streets of the city.
Her role as a juror in film festivals and Bachelor in Psychology come to inform her screenwriting practice and infuse her films with intimacy and originality. Al-Banawi also holds a Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard University and is the founder of The Other Story Project; a fusion that has allowed her to continue unearthing psychosocial themes creatively and made her a Next Generation Leader by Times Magazine in 2018. Today's leading actress opens the doors to her studio Alf Wad [Arabic for: A Thousand Valley], making it a hub to build and foster actors and filmmakers in the film community. 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-winning director, Lucien Bourjeily, and in acting methods by both Luke Lehner Studios and member of the Actor's Studio in LA, Gerald James.
Fatima recently finished working on the upcoming film Champions that is produced by Aflam Almaha in collaboration with Lola Arabia. In 2021, Fatima starred in the Egyptian thriller series 60 Minutes, which premiered on Shahid.net. Directed by Mariam Ahmady and written by Mohamed Hesham Obayya, Fatima stars in the series opposite Yasmin Raeis, Shereen Reda, Mahmoud Nsr and Sawsan Badr. In addition, she attended the 78th Venice International Film Festival, as an official brand ambassador for the French luxury manufacturer Cartier International SNC in KSA and the Middle East. Also, she was selected as a jury member at the Feature Film Competition of the 11th Malmo Arab Film Festival.
Besides, she was also featured in the music video Met’ala’ Beeky that was released during the closing ceremony of the 5th El Gouna Film Festival alongside 10 other actresses from 5 Arab countries; Youssra, Hend Sabri, Shereen Reda, Saba Mubarak, Nour, Tara Emad, Huda ElMufti, Mayan El Sayed, Sarrah Abdelrahman, and TV presenter Raya Abirached.
2021 also witnessed the selection of Fatima as a member of Saudi Arabia's first professional association for theatre and performing arts. Her film Becoming is slated to open the Horizons of Arab Cinema Competition of the 43rd Cairo International Film Festival ( Out of Competition ), while also being selected as a jury member for the Horizons of Arab Cinema Competition of the 43rd Cairo International Film Festival.
In the same year Fatima’s new feature, Route 10, directed by Omar Naim and co-produced by MBC Studios and ImageNation, landed its world premiere at Red Sea Film Festival.
She completed her master's degree in Theological Studies from Harvard University with extensive research on Arab Identity and Gender Representation in both, Film and Literature.
Official Website: fatimaalbanawi.com