Hakawati produces,

distributes and curates films

that hold the art of

storytelling at their core.

Hakawati works with storytellers with distinctive vision and enables new talent to take creative risks. Hakawati is committed to the broader visibility of independent film, giving platforms to quieter voices and unique individual – often minority – perspectives in relation to a dominant whole. In making creatively bold films with integrity, representation and reframing narratives are at the heart of what we do. The company’s projects all derive from the central tenet that a good story is in the telling, and that after all, we are the stories we tell. We have three strands of interconnected work: production, impact & distribution and curation – drawing a link between storytelling and which stories get told.

we are the

stories we tell

at stake in the telling

a story is, there is more

No matter how good

Rabih Alameddine

by Steven Eastwood;

co-produced with

Paradogs Films

90 mins; 2017


Across the water on the  island, four individuals experience the year in which their lives will end. Illness progresses, relationships gently shift, and we are witness to rarely seen and intensely private moments. One person shares their acceptance of death, whilst another is surrounded by a community in shock. ISLAND observes bedside care and the rhythm of breathing. In a pathology lab, microscopic biopsies in close-up show the interior of bodies, our biology. Filmed over 12 months on the Isle of Wight, ISLAND is a life-affirming  reflection on the phenomena of dying, portraying the transition away from personhood and observing the last days and hours of life and the moment of death. Like the ferries cyclically arriving and departing in this  an enigmatic landscape, the film appears buoyant, afloat. Death is shown to be natural and everyday but also unspeakable and strange.


In UK cinemas from 14 September 2018. For bookings please contact info@hakawati.co.uk.


Supported by Arts Council England, National Lottery Big Lottery Fund, FREEFOLK, Earl Mountbatten Hospice and Queen Mary University London

by Hikaru Toda

co-produced with Little Stranger Films

95 mins; 2017

Of Love & Law

Fumi and Kazu are partners in love and law; they run the first law firm in Japan set up by an openly gay couple. As lawyers driven by their own experience of being ​outsiders​, they attract a range of clients who reveal the ​hidden diversity of a country that prides itself for collective obedience, politeness and conformity. The lawyers and their misfit clients expose and challenge the archaic status quo that deems them second-class citizens. Against the backdrop of civil liberties under attack, the film asks what it takes to be an individual, what it means to be a minority and what role family plays in our increasingly polarised world.


Winner of Japanese Competition BEST FILM at Tokyo International Film Festival 2017; Winner of Firebird Award for Best Documentary at Hong Kong International Film Festival 2018; Winner of Tokyo Docs pitch 2014,


Supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures, The Great British Sasakawa Foundation, Daiwa Foundation, Women Make Movies

by Yasmin Fedda;

co-produced with

Banyak Films.

In production


In 2011 Bassel was a successful open source developer and hacker in Damascus. Paolo was a well-known priest. Both active in the 2011 revolution, they were witnesses to crimes and aggression before they were forcibly disappeared. Ayouni is a personal look at the strategic use of disappearance as a weapon of war.


Supported by Doha Film Institute, IMS, SANAD, Cap Kuwait, Amnesty International and BFI Vision Award. Working closely with #FREEBASSEL campaign and Families For Freedom, co-founded by Noura Ghazi.


Sometimes reality

is too complex,

stories give it form

Jean Luc Godard

Impact &


We believe there is a narrative to the films that get wider visibility and work closely with filmmakers to devise distribution strategies within the UK context, using traditional and non-traditional methods and developing outreach and impact plans.

Our team has experience working with distributors, exhibitors and independent venues, public funders and broadcasters, charities and networks across the country. We have worked on audience building for distribution purposes as well as crowd-funding and award campaigns.

By Sky Neal & Kate McLarnon

Satya Films & Postcode Films

Produced by Elhum Shakerifar

93 mins, 2018

Even When I Fall

In Spring 2018, Hakawati distributed the “remarkable” and “uplifting” Even When I Fall through a 12-city Q&A preview tour starting on International Women’s Day (8th March) and nationwide cinema release from 13th April reaching over 45 cities nationwide. Events included partnerships with CircusFest at The Roundhouse, BFI, Women in Film & TV and V&A Museum. Now available to download or own on DVD


Described as the “feelgood film of the week” by the Financial Times, “gripping” by The Times and “sensitive, intimate, graceful” by Total Film. The film has been nominated for the Discovery Award, British Independent Film Awards 2017 and Best Feature Documentary, One World Media Awards 2018.


Even When I Fall tells the incredible story of Nepal’s first circus, set up by survivors of child trafficking. An intimate, beautiful film that harnesses the visual power of circus to give a unique perspective into the complex world of human trafficking.

by Carol Salter;

Rocksalt Films

in association with


72mins, 2017

Almost Heaven

In 2017, Hakawati distributed Berlinale “stand out” Almost Heaven by Carol Salter through a nationwide Q&A tour in partnership with MUBI, where the film was then showcased throughout the month of September. Now available to download in the UK


Winner of Best Documentary, British Independent Film Awards 2017


Almost Heaven follows 17-year-old Ying Ling, who is training to become a mortician in one of China’s largest funeral homes. Far from home and terrified of ghosts, she learns to perform spa and beauty treatments for the dead, speaking to them softly as she is watched closely by family members. Learning to navigate the long, lifeless corridors of the crematorium, she forms a close and unexpected friendship with her colleague Jin Hau. Their playful camaraderie makes work bearable, but when Jin Hau suddenly leaves the funeral home, Ying Ling is left to face the harsh realities of the job alone


A tender and life-affirming portrait of a vibrant young woman approaching adulthood.

Power consists to a

 large extent in deciding

what stories will be told

Carolyn G. Heilbrun


Curation and programming are a form of storytelling – three films chosen to sit alongside each other create and project a meta-narrative.

We work with festivals, exhibitors and foundations to curate film programmes that reflect our core value – that a good story is all in the telling.

Most recently, Elhum curated the film element of Shubbak – UK’s largest festival of contemporary Arab culture. The season reflected on questions of ‘image creation of conflict’ and ‘imagined futures’ in an attempt to deconstruct the image and meta-narrative of the region. Explore the programme through Little White Lie’s review of the Imagined Futures Shorts Season; Barbican’s podcast with Mohanad Yaqubi re Off Frame; Bidisha’s overview of films made about Syria for Sight & Sound; Elhum’s article for Little White Lies about the women directors of the festival.

Plot is the bone

you throw the dog while you

 go in and rob the house

T. S. Elliot


Whether you’re at the beginning of telling your story, or you’re ready to share it with the world, Hakawati offers one-to-one consultancies with filmmakers and their teams for documentary film, as well as advising on impact and UK distribution strategies.

Recent projects we have consulted on include The Hard Stop (George Amponsah, 2015),  and The Worker’s Cup (Adam Sobel, 2017).

Stories can conquer

fear you know. They can

make the heart larger

Ben Okri

Who We Are


Elhum is a BAFTA nominated producer, recipient of the 2016 BFI Vision Award and of the Women in Film & TV's Factual Award for 2017; her multi-award-winning credits include The Reluctant Revolutionary (Sean McAllister, 2012), The Runner (Saeed Farouky, 2013), A Syrian Love Story (Sean McAllister, 2015), Even When I Fall (Sky Neal and Kate McLarnon, 2017), Almost Heaven (Carol Salter, 2017), ISLAND (Steven Eastwood, 2017) and Of Love & Law (Hikaru Toda, 2017). Working with a range of partners including BFI, BBC, Sundance, Doc Society, The New York Times, Irish Film Board, Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, Chicken & Egg Pictures and Women Make Movies to name a few, her work has been broadcast internationally and screened at festivals including Berlinale, IDFA, Rotterdam, CPH:DOX and Dubai.


Bridging the gap between UK festival visibility and distribution, she began to work on specialist distribution strategies on titles including Wadjda (Haifaa Al Mansour, 2012) and The Lebanese Rocket Society by (Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, 2013). In 2015, she self-distributed A Syrian Love Story (Sean McAllister, 2015) in the UK to such high visibility that it was named #3 Best Film of 2015 by the Guardian and was nominated for Film Campaign of the year at the Screen Awards 2016.


Formerly programmer of Bird’s Eye View Film Festival (2012-14) and notably of the hugely successful focus on Arab Women Directors in 2013 and three-month curation of Canary Wharf Screen in 2014, Elhum is now MENA and Iran programme advisor for London Film Festival and Film Curator for Shubbak, festival of contemporary Arab culture. In 2017, she was nominated for the Arab British Centre’s Award for Culture.


Alongside her work in film, she produced award-winning photography book The Grey Line (by Jo Metson Scott, published 2013) about US and UK soldiers who have spoken out against the war in Iraq – named one of TIME, Guardian and Telegraph’s top photobooks of 2013. She is also a published translator of Persian poetry, with a new book of poetry by Azita Ghahreman, translated with Maura Dooley to be published in 2018.


Fleur is an Impact Producer and Hakawati’s Project Manager working across all our projects. Fleur’s legal background informs her interest in documentary, understanding that storytelling has the power to create positive change and give new energy to tired issues. She became a BAFTA Guru Film Pro in 2016.


Fleur has previously worked with award winning documentary film teams including Grain Media, Violet Films and Postcode Films. As an impact assistant on the BAFTA/Academy Award® nominated documentary Virunga (2014), she helped to bring the underreported struggles facing Africa’s oldest national park to the world stage, mobilising an international community to help safeguard its future. More recently, she managed outreach for Berlinale Glashütte Original Best Documentary Award nominee Almost Heaven (2017).


With a keen interest in women in film, she has also been directing a film based on women’s representation in society, looking back over the last 70 years, and has written about gender equality for the UNESCO World Heritage Magazine


Emma manages marketing and communication strategy across Hakawati’s films. Emma started out working for documentary distributor Dogwoof, handling online strategy and social media for their complete catalogue of documentary titles. During her time at the company she spearheaded marketing campaigns for films such as Dreams of a Life (2011), The Act of Killing (2012), The Spirit of ’45 (2013) and Blackfish (2013).


Moving to the freelance world, she now delivers digital marketing campaigns across film sales, distribution, exhibition and home entertainment with a rosta of clients including the likes of Curzon, Bertha DocHouse, Rich Mix, Pulse Films, Metrodome and Raindance. Emma also regularly handles social media for several film festivals, working with Cambridge Film Festival, Brighton Cine-City Film Festival and Open City Documentary Festival.


Most recently, she spent two years managing the global marketing and press campaign for Loving Vincent (2017), the world’s first oil-painted animation feature. The film earned BAFTA, Golden Globe and Oscar nominations.



Shed, Workspace 2

8 Lee Street, London E8 4DY

Email us at

Follow us on:

Twitter @TheHakawatis

Instagram /TheHakawatis

Facebook /TheHakawatis

Please note that Hakawati reviews unsolicited proposals and projects every quarter. Proposals are expected to articulate a clear statement of intent.

Hakawati is supported by the BFI Vision Award


Our partners include: BFI, Doc Society, Tribeca, Catapult, SANAD, Cap Kuwait, Arts Council, Lottery Funding, Chicken & Egg, Women Make Movies

Site by Dvision