Jehane Noujaim

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Jehane Noujaim
Born Washington, D.C.
Occupation Documentary film director
Years active 1996–present

Jehane Noujaim (Egyptian Arabic: چيهان نچيم‎‎, IPA: [ʒeˈhæːn nʊˈʒeːm]) is an Egyptian American documentary film director best known for her films Control Room,[1], Pangea Day and The Square, the latter of which earned her a nomination for an Academy Award.


Noujaim was born to an Egyptian father and an American mother. She was raised in Kuwait and Cairo and moved to Boston by the age of 10, in 1990.[2][3]

She attended Milton Academy,[4] matriculated to Harvard University and graduated magna cum laude in visual arts and philosophy. The same year, before her graduation, Noujaim was awarded the Gardiner fellowship under which she directed Mokattam, an Arabic film about a garbage-collecting village near Cairo in Egypt.

She joined the MTV news and documentary division as a segment producer for the documentary series UNfiltered. Noujaim later left her job at MTV to produce and direct under the guidance of documentary filmmaker D.A Pennebaker in association with Pennebaker Hegedus Films. The feature length, highly acclaimed documentary has won numerous distinguished awards including the DGA and IDA Awards for best documentary. She won the DGA Award again for The Square in 2014.[5]

She has since worked in both the Middle East and the United States as a cinematographer on various documentaries including Born Rich (Jamie Johnson), Only the Strong Survive (Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker), and Down from the Mountain (D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus, Nick Doob).[6]

In 2004, she directed the feature-length film Control Room, a documentary about US Central Command and its relations with Al Jazeera and other news organizations that covered the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which rewarded her with the TED prize in 2006. This made her the first and youngest woman to do so. In 2007, she co-directed (with Sherief El Katsha) the film which was broadcast as part of the WhyDemocracy project. In 2012 she released Rafea: Solar Mama (which she directed with Mona Eldaeif). A documentary about a group of women leaving their villages to learn about solar engineering, only to return and solar power their own society. And in 2013 she released The Square, a film following the Egyptian revolution and the inspiration it has given to the world.[7]

In January 2014 The Square was nominated for an Academy Award in documentary category. The Square also won critical acclaim in the 2013 Sundance Film Festival & the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.[7]

Pangea Day[edit]

After winning the TED Prize, Noujaim used her wish to organize Pangea Day, a live videoconference that took place in New York City, Rio de Janeiro, London, Dharamsala, Cairo, Jerusalem, and Kigali on May 10, 2008. The show was internationally broadcast over four hours through internet, television and mobile phones. It featured films, speakers, and music.


Year Film
2000 Down from the Mountain
2002 Only the Strong Survive
2004 Control Room
2012 Rafea: Solar Mama
2013 The Square


  1. ^ Derry, Charles (October 29, 2009). Dark Dreams 2.0: A Psychological History of the Modern Horror Film from the 1950s to the 21st Century. McFarland. pp. 382–. ISBN 9780786433971. Retrieved June 4, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Biography". PBS. August 6, 2004. Retrieved December 5, 2013. 
  3. ^ Appelo, Tim (July 7, 2014). "'The Square' Filmmaker Leaks Oscar Nominee Online, Risking Egypt Censors' Wrath". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 25, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Jehane Noujaim '92, to Address Graduating Class". Milton Academy. April 2008. Retrieved December 5, 2013. 
  5. ^ Appelo, Tim (July 2, 2014). "Jehane Noujaim's "The Square," Netflix's first Oscar nominee -- and the first ever from Egypt -- has found its audience". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 25, 2016. 
  6. ^ Sailor, Craig (February 13, 2015). "PLU to host filmmaker Jehane Noujaim, screen 'The Square' documentary on Egypt". The News Tribune. Retrieved February 25, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "Jehane Noujaim 2015". Pacific Lutheran University. Retrieved February 26, 2016. 

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