Shamim Sarif

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Shamim Sarif
Born (1969-09-24) 24 September 1969 (age 50)
London, England, United Kingdom
OccupationNovelist, filmmaker, screenwriter
Hanan Kattan (m. 2015)

Shamim Sarif (born 24 September 1969) is a British novelist and filmmaker of South Asian and South African heritage. Her work often focuses on various aspects of identity including gender, race, and sexuality. It often draws upon her own personal experience with cross cultural, non-heterosexual love.

Early life and education[edit]

Sarif was born in London, England, to Indian parents who had left South Africa in the early 1960's to escape apartheid.[1][2] She studied English literature at the University of London, then took a Masters in English at Boston University.[1]


In January of 2001, Sarif co-founded a multi-media entertainment company based in London and in partnership between her spouse, producer Hanan Kattan, called Enlightenment Productions in which all of her films would be released through.

Her roots inspired her to write her debut novel, The World Unseen (2001),[3] which explores issues of race, gender and sexuality, which she later adapted into a film starring Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth. It was heavily inspired by the stories of Sarif's grandmother and the family's Indian and South African heritage.[4]

She has also adapted and directed a film based on her book I Can't Think Straight.[2][5]

Her movies have made Sarif something of a hero for gay South Asians struggling with their identity.[6]

Her 2011 film The House of Tomorrow is a documentary about the 2010 TEDx Holy Land Conference, which brought together Arab and Israeli women to discuss issues of mutual interest in technology, entertainment, and design.[7]

At the Cannes Festival[8] 2013 Enlightenment Productions announced their new film Despite The Falling Snow.[9] The film starring Mission Impossible 5 Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson,[10] Game of Thrones actor Charles Dance, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Antje Traue, Sam Reid, Anthony Head and Trudie Styler, was released in UK on 15 April 2016.

Her latest project, The Dreaming Spires,[11] is still in production.[12]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Sarif's background was in her family's financial business for 10 years before becoming a full-time novelist and film director.[29]

On 23 September 2015 she married producer Hanan Kattan at the Chelsea Registry Office in London, after nearly 20 years together.[30] They have two sons, Ethan (b. 1999) and Luca (b. 2002). Sarif is openly lesbian and described I Can't Think Straight to be semi-autobiographical.[2] Sarif claims Muslim origins.[31] She has stated that Jeanette Winterson's The Passion is one of her favorite books.[32]

Feature films[edit]



  • Sarif, Shamim (2001). The World Unseen. Women's Press. ISBN 978-0704347120.
  • Despite the Falling Snow. Headline Publishing. 2004. ISBN 978-0755308675.
    • Das Leben, von dem sie träumten. Berlin: Verlag Krug & Schadenberg. 2010. ISBN 978-3930041695.
  • I Can't Think Straight. Enlightenment Production Limited. 2010. ISBN 978-0956031617.
  • Wrote the Book, Made the Movie, Raised the Kids, Now the Blog... Enlightenment Press. 2010. ISBN 978-0956031648.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Just another British, Indian, Muslim, Arab, Christian lesbian romantic comedy". Evening Standard.
  2. ^ a b c Rachael Scott, "Having a gay old time: Novelist turned film-maker Shamim Sarif has two films, both based on her books, coming out tomorrow. She tells Rachael Scott how this one-two punch came about." The Guardian, 2 April 2009.
  3. ^ Sarif 2001.
  4. ^ Coleman, Bianca (February 13, 2009). "Novel start leads to the reel world: ENT". Cape Times. ProQuest 430701497.
  5. ^ "Changing lives in little steps", Independent Online (South Africa), 12 February 2009.
  6. ^ Yelaja, Prithi (18 Nov 2008). "Love quietly speaks its name; Two films both have lesbian protagonists, but it's no big deal to director and lead actor". Toronto Star.
  7. ^ Billy Cox, "‘House of Tomorrow’ infused with excitement and optimism", Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 16 April 2012.
  8. ^ Andreas Wiseman2013-05-18T06:00:00+01:00. "Kurylenko, Furtwangler fall for Snow". Screen. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  9. ^ Despite the Falling Snow. Retrieved from Shamim Sarif on IMDb
  10. ^ Hopewell, John; Hopewell, John (24 April 2015). "6 Sales Takes Rebecca Ferguson-Starrer 'Snow' (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  11. ^ Sarif, Shamim. "Enlightenment Productions - The Dreaming Spires…". Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  12. ^ Sarif, Shamim (July 1, 2018). "The Dancing Spires". Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  13. ^ Billy Suter, "Love in apartheid SA", The Mercury (South Africa), September 12, 2008  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
  14. ^ Candice Soobramoney, "Shamim on lesbian love flick", Post (South Africa), August 6, 2008  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
  15. ^ a b Kinoshita, Brenda (June 24, 2009). "Shamim Sarif: 'World' view". Windy City Times. ProQuest 432804224.
  16. ^ "Unusual film sweeps Saftas; Janet van Eeden talks to the writer and director of The World Unseen, a film that highlights the plight of Indian women under apartheid.", The Sunday Independent, 15 February 2009  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
  17. ^ "Apartheid era love story The World Unseen scoops 11 Saftas", The Witness, 22 February 2009.
  18. ^ "SAFTA Awards".
  19. ^ "Shows Home - TVSA". Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  20. ^ "2008 Phoenix Film Festival Winners". Archived from the original on 5 October 2011. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  21. ^ "Movie Reviews: First week of Lesbian & Gay Film Festival is rich with diversity", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 16, 2008.
  22. ^ "Cinema | Miff Awards". Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  23. ^ PIFF. "PIFF 2016 Winners | PIFF 2017". Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  24. ^ "Canada International Film Festival | Screenplay Contest - 2016". Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  25. ^ "Buffalo Niagara Film Festival – Feel it. Express it. Live it". Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  26. ^ "About". Manchester Film Festival. Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  27. ^ "Finalists revealed in prizes backing female bosses". Mail Online. 14 September 2014. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  28. ^ "2014 WINNERS". Kingston Business Excellence Awards 2014.
  29. ^ West, Edward (December 20, 2008). "Teaming up to make movies that matter". Business Day. ProQuest 334164952.
  30. ^ "We just got married!".
  31. ^ Hoggard, Liz (April 2009). [She is an Arab Christian, her lover a Muslim. They challenged every prejudice and almost tore their wealthy London families apart. Then they made a film of their love story... [Edition 2] "She is an Arab Christian, her lover a Muslim. They challenged every prejudice and almost tore their wealthy London families apart. Then they made a film of their love story... [Edition 2]"] Check |url= value (help). Evening Standard. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  32. ^ Kinoshita, Brenda (June 24, 2009). "Shamim Sarif: 'World' view". Windy City Times. ProQuest 439515259.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]