Ruba Nadda Interview

By Vanessa Tam

Ruba NaddaRuba Nadda is a critically and internationally acclaimed Canadian filmmaker.  Cairo Time (2009) had its worldwide premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (2009) as a Special Presentation where it was also awarded Best Canadian Feature Film. It is having a U.S. theatrical release this coming summer (2010) by IFC. Cairo Time is set in Egypt with producers Daniel Iron and Killer Films and starring Patricia Clarkson and Alexander Siddig.
Her films include Sabah (starring Arsinee Khanjian) and 13 shorts (Aadan, Blue turning grey over you, Black September, I would suffer cold hands for you, Laila, Slut, Damascus nights, The wind blows towards me particularly, So far gone, Do nothing, Wet heat drifts through the afternoon, Interstate love story, lost woman story) Her films have been shown over 500 times in film festivals around the world with over 30 retrospectives of her work. She is currently working on her next two feature films with Daniel Iron and Christine Vachon as producers.

Nadda’s experience in the film industry is extensive - with over a dozen shorts and two features that have all been screened worldwide, in over 500 film festivals. She now shares how she sees the Canadian film industry’s changing landscape, and even some advice on how to get the momentum.

I caught with her in Toronto:

RN “I have a strange relationship to the industry in Canada. For a long time, I was operating on the sidelines and that was a good thing because I don't make Canadian movies or Arab movies. I had received astounding international support, which helped me so much now when I'm trying to finance a movie. I want my films to travel everywhere. I want everyone to see them because I feel like what I'm trying to say people will connect with on some level."

VT: It’s become pretty tough to get movies made here in Canada - to access financing. It’s more difficult than ever breaking through because anyone can pick up a digital camera now and shoot something. What I believe will win out is a great story. If you have a story you're passionate about and a strong POV, just shoot it - make the short - send that short to film festivals and move on. It's about creating work that can eventually get financiers to back you - they need to see something - your work. It’s all about perseverance. Whatever you do, don't give up.

RN: "I think the best advice is you need to wholeheartedly love and be committed to your story/script /film because you will be challenged - it will be brutal, heartbreaking, impossible to make. So you need to be unstoppable, passionate, dedicated, and tough. You will need to have faith and see your feature film as a trailer in your head because that's what will keep you going. And of course don't take no for an answer! And another thing! Remember that filmmakers have a dream – it’s a dream to get to do this, so on some level, it’s your job to will it and to get as many people as you can on your side!”

There we have it. As Ruba put it, get your short into a film festival, and move on!
Nudge, nudge, Raindance is currently accepting submissions!

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About Vanessa Tam

Vanessa TamVanessa is currently doing a victory lap at the University of Toronto, where she studies Cinema Studies and Sociology. She's lived in Hong Kong for most of her life before moving to Toronto in 2006.  As a late bloomer to the film world, Vanessa is relentlessly garnering film experience and exposure to make up for lost time. She remains optimistic.

During the school year, she's actively involved in the Cinema Studies Student Union and is looking forward to her new position as Editor for the Cinema Studies academic journal, Camera Stylo. In addition to her internship at Raindance, she's completing a marketing internship at an online publication, Shalom Life ( She is also working on her first animated short, which so happens to be her first-ever short.

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Ruba Nadda Interview