Born in Sidon, Lebanon, and raised in Michigan, Rola Nashef is a writer, director, producer and multi-media artist who draws upon her extensive experience in the arts and involvement in Detroit’s diverse communities as a catalyst for creative expression and social movement. Named Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” (2011), Nashef has received the prestigious Kresge Arts in Detroit Fellowship (2014) for her long-standing work, and has been awarded the Adrienne Shelley Director’s Award (2014) for her sophomore feature film, Nadia’s House, currently in development. Nashef is a recipient of the Detroit Knight Arts Challenge (2014) for her work with Detroit Film Labs, a project that fosters dynamic storytelling in Detroit by offering a series of workshops to first-time filmmakers.
Nashef’s debut, award-winning feature, Detroit Unleaded, holds its place in American cinema history as the very first Arab-American rom-com portraying second generation Arab characters specific to Detroit & Dearborn. A slice-of-life dramedy that centers around an Arab-owned 24-hour gas station in Detroit, the film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (2012) where Nashef won the inaugural Grolsch Film Works Discovery Award. Prior to it’s release, Detroit Unleaded was supported by the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriter’s Lab, IFP New York, Emerging Visions, Lincoln Center and the A2E Distribution Lab, SFFS.
In addition to her work as an artist, Nashef lectures extensively on a wide-array of topics, from the practical elements of filmmaking to the portrayal of Arabs and Arab Americans in the media and in popular culture. Drawing upon her 16 years experience and in-depth knowledge of independent filmmaking, Nashef leads workshops on both the creative and practical elements of filmmaking, guiding students and practitioners alike in developing sound media and art-based projects. She appears frequently as a guest speaker on radio and television shows including NPR’S Michelle Martin and The Story with Dick Gregory
In her new presentation, Rola Nashef, The Director’s Cut, Nashef mixes multi-media presentation with lively storytelling, personal memoir, behind the scenes footage and directors commentary to narrate the making-of her award-winning short and debut, feature films.
Winning Project: Nadia’s House