Sally El Hosaini

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Sally El Hosaini (Arabic: سالى الحسينى[ˈsæːli (ʔe)lħoˈseːni]) is a Welsh-Egyptian film director and screenwriter.

Her debut feature film My Brother the Devil won international awards, including at the 2013 Evening Standard Film Awards,[1] 2012 Sundance Film Festival, 2012 Berlin International Film Festival[2] and 2012 BFI London Film Festival Awards,[3] amongst others. It stars Fady Elsayed, BIFA Award winning James Floyd and César Award nominated actor Saïd Taghmaoui. It was filmed on location in Hackney, London.


El Hosaini was born in Swansea, Wales, of Egyptian Welsh parentage, and raised in Cairo, Egypt.[4][5] She had her first story published when she was seven years old.

El Hosaini attended Atlantic College, one of the United World Colleges.[citation needed] She went on to read Arabic with Middle Eastern Studies at Durham University.[citation needed] Before making films she taught English Literature at a girls' school in Sana'a, Yemen and worked for Amnesty International.[citation needed] She is a long-time resident of Hackney, London.[6]


El Hosaini was a trainee to the late renegade theatre director, John Sichel.[4] She began her career working on Middle East documentaries and then moved to independent feature films, where she was a production coordinator for many years. She has stated that her work in British television documentaries felt "formulaic", and that she found she could be more truthful in fiction.[7]

She was the script editor/specialist researcher of the BAFTA and Emmy Award winning HBO Films/BBC Drama mini-series House of Saddam. She spent 2​12 years in research for the series,[8] which won a Grierson Award for best factual drama.

She received a regional (Welsh) BAFTA for her 2008 short film, The Fifth Bowl.[9]

In 2009, her short film Henna Night was officially selected for the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.[10] It was in competition at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and the Raindance Film Festival.[11]

El Hosaini participated in the 2009 Sundance Directors and Screenwriters Labs, developing My Brother the Devil .[12][13]

She was named one of Screen International's UK Stars of Tomorrow for 2009.[14]

My Brother the Devil was released theatrically in 12 US cities, May 2013 and had a wide release in UK cinemas, November 2012. Further releases in Canada, Australia, New Zealand & Germany. The film screened at over 40 International Film Festivals, where it received 12 awards, 17 nominations & an Honourable Mention.[15]

As Writer/Director of the film, El Hosaini won the Most Promising Newcomer Award at 2013 Evening Standard Film Awards, Best Screenplay at the 2013 Writer's Guild of Great Britain Awards,[16] the Best Newcomer Award at the 2012 BFI London Film Festival and the UK New Talent Award at the British Women in Film and Television Awards in 2012. She was also nominated for the BIFA Douglas Hickox award for Best Debut Film at the British Independent Film Awards and the Sutherland Trophy (Best First Film) at BFI London Film Festival.

In 2014 she was one of two directors chosen by Danny Boyle to direct Babylon, the television series he co-created and produced for Channel 4 and SundanceTV.

She has been profiled by The Guardian,[17] BBC America,[18] IndieWire[19] and Variety who named her a 2014 'Brit to Watch'.[20]


Title Role Type Year
Untitled London Project Writer/Director Feature Film tbc
Babylon Director Television Series 2014
My Brother the Devil Writer/Director Feature Film 2013
Camelia Writer Feature Film 2011
Henna Night Writer/Director Short Film 2009
The Fifth Bowl Writer/Director Short Film 2008



  1. ^ Masters, Sam (4 February 2013). "El Hosaini's film about gangs wins her gong at Evening Standard Film Awards". The Independent. London. 
  2. ^ Willis, Holly (20 February 2012). "Sally El Hosaini's My Brother The Devil wins Best European Film at 2012 Berlin Film Festival". Sundance Institute. Archived from the original on 11 November 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "London Film Festival announces 2012 award winners". British Film Institute. 2 April 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Hoggard, Liz (26 January 2013). "Sally El Hosaini: 'I'm interested in people on the margins of society'". The Observer. London. 
  5. ^ Al Muhanna, Talal (March–April 2010). "Know Who: Script Talk – Sally El Hosaini". Media Production. Dubai: 70. 
  6. ^ Pulver, Andrew; Barnes, Henry (12 November 2012). "My Brother the Devil director Sally El Hosaini: 'A lot of urban films have been laughed at'". London. 
  7. ^ Fox, Killian; Kappala-Ramsamy, Gemma (31 December 2011). "Screen picks for 2012: Tom Green, Domhnall Gleeson and Sally El Hosaini". The Observer. London. 
  8. ^ McCrum, Kirstie (15 March 2013). "Welsh-Egyptian director Sally El Hosaini on her inspiration". Wales Online. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  9. ^ "The Fifth Bowl – Awards". IMDb. 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "Henna Night". British Film Institute. 
  11. ^ "Henna Night". Raindance Film Festival. 
  12. ^ "Sundance Institute Announces Twelve Feature Film Projects for January Screenwriters Lab". Sundance Film Festival. Archived from the original on 15 December 2008. 
  13. ^ "My Brother the Devil". Sundance Institute. 
  14. ^ "Stars of Tomorrow". Archived from the original on 4 July 2009. 
  15. ^ My Brother the Devil
  16. ^ "Awards winners". Writers' Guild. 13 November 2013. Archived from the original on 27 July 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  17. ^ Hoggard, Liz (27 January 2013). "Sally El Hosaini: 'I'm interested in people on the margins of society'". The Observer. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  18. ^ Brook, Tom (28 March 2013). "Sally El Hosaini Provides Antidote to 'Downton Abbey' British Fantasy". BBC America. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  19. ^ "Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers #29: Sally El Hosaini, 'My Brother the Devil'". Indiewire. 26 December 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  20. ^ "Variety's 10 Brits to Watch". Variety. 26 September 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 

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