Alumni Sandi Tan '00 and Dina Emam '16 Named Artists to Watch by 'Variety Magazine'

May 8, 2018

Film alumni Sandi Tan '00 and Dina Emam '16 were featured in Variety’s “The 10 to Watch” Series, which “spotlights emerging writers, actors, producers, directors, comics, and cinematographers” who are nominated by the entertainment industry, and selected by Variety’s critics, reporters, and editors. Tan was honored as one of “10 Documentarians to Watch in 2018,” while Emam was named one of “10 Producers to Watch in 2018.”


Tan wrote, directed, and produced Shirkers, a documentary based on her life: when Tan was an ambitious and precocious teenager living in Singapore, she and her American mentor, Georges, filmed what she envisioned would be Singapore’s first indie road movie—until Georges fled with seventy reels of her footage. When the footage resurfaced twenty years later, Tan was a novelist living in California (her debut novel, The Black Isle, was published in 2012).


“[Shirkers] is kind of a remake of a film that was never made,” Tan told Variety. “The original film was the story of this teenage girl who goes around looking for people she’s going to kill. And in this version, it’s me as a grown-up, gallivanting around the world, finding all these people I used to know, and kind of bringing them back to life.”


The documentary features original footage from Shirkers interspersed with present-day interviews with Tan’s friends and collaborators. Tan was awarded the Directing Award in World Cinema Documentary after Shirkers premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. It was recently acquired by Netflix.


Dina Emam received accolades for producing Yomeddine, her first narrative feature film. Yomeddine, which translates to “Judgement Day,” traces the story of “a Coptic leper and his orphaned apprentice [who] leave the confines of the leper colony for the first time and embark on a journey across Egypt to search for what is left of their families.”


Emam, who is Egyptian-American, worked alongside the director, A.B. Shawky. Yomeddine was Shawky’s directorial debut. According to an article on Egyptian Streets, “The film is based on real characters that writer and director Shawky met at the Abu Zaabal Leper Colony while filming award-winning documentary The Colony.”


Yomedinne premiered and competed in the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Emam has produced numerous short films and documentaries including From Queens to Cairo (2012) and I Say Dust (2015), among others.