The Malik Bendjelloul Memorial Foundation

Stockholm 2020-08-31

Three female directors awarded Malik grants

In 2020 The Malik Bendjelloul Memorial Fund has decided to award three grants as a sign of special support to documentary filmmakers in the difficult times created by the the coronavirus pandemic. The grants are for € 8000 each and the grantees are all female directors: Clara Tägström (Sweden), Charly Wai Feldman (UK) and Raisa Răzmeriță (Moldova). All three film projects have female protagonists.

– Malik loved to travel the world. Documentary films can in a small way compensate for the insularity created by the current travel restrictions. This year’s grants support stories about children in the rundown sanctuary called Slab City in California, about a Syrian swimmer in exile and a Moldovan female Santa, says Malik Fund founder Johar Bendjelloul.

The Swedish director Clara Tägström gets a grant for her project called ”Slab City”, in which she has documented a girl called Kasey and other children in an abandoned military base in California, now inhabited by anarchists, eccentrics and other marginalised people.

– I’ve followed children growing up in Slab City for more than a hundred days over a period of four years. The project has become my film school, it has been formative for me as a director and a person. This fine grant will help me continue on that journey, says Clara.

The British director Charly Wai Feldman makes her debut as a director with ”I am Sarah”, in which we meet the Syrian top class swimmer Sarah Mardini, who flees from the war and is hailed as a hero for saving the life of refugees in danger on the Greek island of Lesbos. As attitudes harden against refugees in the European Union, she finds herself accused of being involved in human trafficking.

The third Malik grant goes to director Raisa Răzmeriță from Moldova. Her project ”Electing Miss Santa” features Elena, a charismatic 43-year old, who doubles as Santa in her Moldovan home village while trying to make even more difference for the villagers by entering politics.

More than 150 filmmakers applied for a Malik grant this year, twice as many as previous years. All grants in 2020 go to female directors.

– We noticed at the end of the selection process that we had chosen three female directors with three female protagonists. It was not something we aimed for during the gruelling work with the applications. We simply went for the stories we felt were closest to Malik’s way of thinking, says Johar Bendjelloul.

About the Malik Bendjelloul Memorial Foundation

The Malik Bendjelloul Memorial Foundation was founded to further the memory of Malik Bendjelloul, who won an Oscar in 2013 for the film ”Searching for Sugarman”. The aim with the grant is to make it possible for young filmmakers to create new documentary film projects ”in the spirit of Malik”. The award ceremony is on 14 September.


Contact: Johar Bendjelloul, +46 706 927 457