For Hani Farsi, philanthropy is a family tradition, and he’s bringing it forward. His father was a civic leader and philanthropist who did much to shape and bring culture and the arts to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The younger Farsi has many charitable credits to his name, too, including personally subsidizing the famed London Donmar Warehouse Theatre and saving it from closure.
Opening Doors for Different Voices
Now chairman of the Corniche Group, whose Corniche Media has co-produced several acclaimed films, Farsi is partnering with UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT) to develop outstanding humanistic storytellers, industry leaders, and scholars whose diverse voices enlighten, engage, and inspire change for a better world. A grant-making foundation named for his father, the Mohamed S. Farsi Foundation, and TFT have created the Hani Farsi Graduate Scholarship Fund, which includes three four-year, full-ride graduate scholarships for the school’s Master of Fine Arts in Directing program. The goal: to give voice to the unique perspective of Arab women through the power of storytelling and film.
Changing the Industry
Studies show that prospects for women directors are inadequate throughout the entertainment industry. “I think we can bring about social change through this,” Farsi said at Cannes, where, as co-owner of French distribution and sales company Le Pacte, he had eight films for sale last year.
The first three scholarship recipients started TFT in the fall of 2015. One of them, Amani Alsaied, says this of her experience so far: “The TFT MFA Directing Program is focused on equipping filmmakers with the necessary knowledge and training while empowering their individual voices in the process. I feel fortunate to be among TFT’s filmmakers through the Hani Farsi Scholarship Program.”
The fund is another way UCLA is pioneering change through philanthropy.
Published March 2016