Jehane Noujaim is an Egyptian-American filmmaker and director whose latest documentary feature The Square was nominated for Best Documentary Feature in the 2014 Academy Awards, and won best in World Cinema Documentary at Sundance 2013 and won the documentary award at Toronto International Film Fest 2013.
The Square is an on-the-ground account of the Egyptian revolution and its aftermath which follows a group of activists as they risk their lives in the uprising that ousted Mubarak only to face further threats under the transitional military regime.
She is also the director of Rafea: Solar Mama, the famed Control Room and Startup.com. She is also the recipient of the 2006 TED Prizewith which she created Pangea Day, a world-uniting international celebration of film.
Control Room took an unprecedented look at the business of war. Two weeks before the US invaded Iraq in 2003, Jehane Noujaim gained access to both Al Jazeera and the US military’s Central Command offices in Qatar. By being in the right place at that very wrong time, she caught the onset and outbreak of the Iraq war on film. Control Room exposed the very divergent ways the Arabs and the West covered the war. Her reason for making the film: “It’s important for everyone, simply as individuals, to try to understand different people and different cultures, but it’s especially important for people in the United States because we affect so much of the world beyond our borders.”
After winning the TED Prize Jehane used her wish to organize Pangea Day, a live videoconference that took place in New York City, Rio de Janeiro, London, Dharamsala, Cairo, Jerusalem, and Kigali on May 10, 2008. The show was internationally broadcasted over 4-hours through internet, television and mobile phones. It featured films, speakers, and music.
Noujaim’s earlier documentary Startup.com (2001, directed and produced in association with Pennebaker Hegedus Films) is also a result of Noujaim having entered the story at the perfect point in time. The film follows an arc that mirrors the curve of the dotcom bubble itself, capturing a small Internet company from its eager beginnings through the manic, moneyed times right down to the bitter end.
Born in Washington DC and raised in Kuwait and Cairo, Noujaim graduated Harvard Magna cum laude in visual arts and philosophy.