We are truly honoured to present our Qumra Masters, a group of internationally renowned creative visionaries who will share with us their professional insights in a series of inspirational Master Classes held online to support the development of global storytelling.

Our five distinguished Masters for 2021 encompass the full spectrum of filmmaking as a craft, from direction and screenwriting to cinematography and sound. Between them, these luminaries of the film industry have created some of the finest examples of contemporary world cinema and will provide invaluable guidance and inspiration to all Qumra participants.

This year the programme includes legendary French auteur Claire Denis, BAFTA and Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Phedon Papamichael, internationally celebrated director and Cannes veteran James Gray, Silver Lion-winning film director and screenwriter Jessica Hausner and Academy Award-winning sound designer Mark Mangini.

  • Claire Denis

    Claire Denis

    A true master of her craft, Claire Denis is a French film director and writer who is widely regarded as one of Europe’s most distinctive auteurs. Speaking on her collaborative approach to filmmaking, she will take participants through her body of work which continues to influence European cinematic identity...
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    Denis’s feature film directorial debut ‘Chocolat’ (1988), competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and is a semi-autobiographical reflection on French colonialism in Africa that examines racial tension, and belonging.

    With films such as ‘US Go Home’ (1994), Locarno Golden Leopard winner ‘Nénette et Boni’ (1996), ‘Beau Travail’ (1999), ‘Trouble Every Day’ (2001), and ‘Vendredi Soir’ (2002), she established a reputation as a filmmaker who is able to “reconcile the lyricism of French cinema with the impulse to capture the often harsh face of contemporary France”. Denis went on to win widespread acclaim for ’35 Rhums’ (2009), a compelling portrayal of a father-daughter relationship in a mixed immigrant community. Her film ‘Bastards’ (2013) was presented at Un Certain Regard at Cannes Film Festival in 2013. In 2017, Denis returned to Cannes with ‘Let The Sunshine In’, screened as the opening film in Directors’ Fortnight and winner of the SACD prize. In 2018, she completed and released ‘High Life’, her first English-language feature film, with Robert Pattinson cast as the lead.

    Ultimately, the films of Claire Denis ask us to examine the lines that divide us and to confront the Other. The intrusion of the body, of borders, of culture and of limits, asks both Denis’s characters and her audience to come face to face with their differences. Wesley Morris, a cultural critic for the New York Times, has compared her work to a stew that’s been cooking all week—a reduced and potent pleasure.

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  • James Gray

    James Gray

    World-renowned director, screenwriter and Cannes Veteran James Gray will share with us his personal approach to filmmaking and how he captures the full range and depth of human emotions in his work...
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    He made his directorial debut in 1994 at the age of twenty-five with crime drama ‘Little Odessa’, a widely acclaimed film that won the Silver Lion award at the 51st Venice International Film Festival. Since then, he has made six other features, four of which competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2000, Gray wrote and directed ‘The Yards’, his second feature and his first with Joaquin Phoenix, who would go on to become a frequent collaborator. The drama premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.

    Gray’s New York crime drama ‘We Own the Night’ (2007) starred Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix, Eva Mendes and Robert Duvall. The film received a César nomination in 2008 for Best Foreign Film and screened in competition at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. His fourth feature, ‘Two Lovers’ (2008), received nominations at the Independent Spirit Awards for Best Director and Best Female Lead.

    In 2013, ‘The Immigrant’, which starred Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner, went on to garner numerous awards, including Best Actress (Marion Cotillard) and Best Cinematography (Darius Khondji) prizes from the New York Film Critics Circle. Gray’s film ‘The Lost City of Z’ was based on the best-selling novel by David Grann and starred Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller, Robert Pattinson and Tom Holland. Gray first confirmed his plans to write and direct sci-fi space epic ‘Ad Astra’ during the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, and the visually compelling journey to the vast reaches of space, starring Brad Pitt, was released to critical acclaim in 2019.

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  • Jessica Hausner

    Jessica Hausner

    Distinguished Austrian film director and screenwriter Jessica Hausner developed a deep love of film as she grew up in Vienna, spending her days at the city’s independent cinemas. Hausner will discuss with us her passion for cinema and what she draws on for inspiration in her films that often depict defiant portrayals of female protagonists, love and the human condition...
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    Hausner initially studied psychology and later trained as a director at the Vienna Film Academy. While studying, she made the short film ‘Flora’ (1996), which won the Léopard de Demain at the Locarno Festival. ‘Inter-view’, her graduation film, won the Prix du Jury of the Cinéfondation at the Cannes Film Festival in 1999.

    She received international attention in 2001 when her first feature ‘Lovely Rita’—a portrait of a young girl who feels confined by family constraints—was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. Just three years later, she returned to Cannes with her thriller ‘Hotel’ (2004). Her next film, ‘Lourdes’, a mysterious and brilliantly composed drama, had its premiere at Venice Film Festival 2009 in International Competition where it won the FIPRESCI Prize.

    Her 2014 film ‘Amour Fou’, based on the tragic life of the German writer Henrich von Kleist, was selected to compete in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. She was appointed a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2017. Hausner’s fifth and most recent film, ‘Little Joe’, is her first English-language feature. It was presented in the main competition at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and garnered the acting award for lead actress Emily Beecham.

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  • Mark Mangini

    Mark Mangini

    Mark Mangini is an Academy Award-winning, and five-time nominated sound designer. Drawing on over four decades of experience, he will share with us the vital importance of sound in realising the full gamut of creative expression in filmmaking...
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    Best known for films including ‘Blade Runner 2049’ (2017), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), ‘The Fifth Element’ (1997), ‘Gremlins’ (1984) and ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ (1981), Mangini won the 2015 Academy Award for Best Sound Editing for his work on ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (2015).

    A native of Boston, Mark Mangini was a foreign language major in college, until he could no longer ignore his love of film and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in sound design. Mangini’s first job in entertainment was as a cartoon sound editor at Hanna Barbera Studios. “Having grown up a musician, I am avowed of the idea that all organized sound is music.” he says to underpin his roots in music. “My works are no less considered, designed, creative or manipulative. They just aren’t hummable.” He has spent his entire 42-year career in Hollywood imagining and composing altered sonic realities for motion pictures. He is a frequent lecturer, an outspoken proponent for sound as art and a guitarist/songwriter.

    He founded and ran Weddington Productions, a successful Hollywood post-production sound company for 25 years. Today he works at the Formosa Group in Hollywood, California continuing his work as a supervising sound editor, sound designer and re-recording mixer on such recent films as ‘Black Mass’ (2015), ‘The Accountant’ (2016) and the upcoming ‘Dune’ (2021).

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  • Phedon Papamichael

    Phedon Papamichael

    Phedon Papamichael is an Academy Award-nominated and internationally acclaimed cinematographer. He is widely regarded for his collaborations with directors James Mangold, Alexander Payne, and Wim Wenders. During Qumra, Papamichael will take us through his extensive body of work, which is celebrated for its versatile array of visual styles...
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    Born in Athens, Greece, Papamichael later moved with his family to Germany, where in 1982, he completed his education in Fine Arts in Munich. Working as a photojournalist brought Papamichael to NYC in 1983, where he started crossing over into cinematography. Papamichael now counts over 45 features to his credit as Director of Photography, including the early blockbusters, ‘While You Were Sleeping’ (1995), ‘Cool Runnings’ (1993) and ‘Phenomenon’ (1996), all directed by Jon Turteltaub. Papamichael was accepted as a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1997, where he served several years on the Cinematographers Branch Executive Committee.

    In 2000, Papamichael shot ‘The Million Dollar Hotel’ by Wim Wenders, which was chosen as the Opening Film of the 2000 Berlin Film Festival and won the Grand Jury Prize, the Silver Bear, as well as the Golden Camera.

    In 2001, Papamichael shot ‘Moonlight Mile’, directed by Brad Silberling, starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon. It was followed by ‘Identity’ (2003), directed by James Mangold, and the Oscar-nominated ‘Sideways’ (2004), directed by Alexander Payne. His credits continued with ‘Walk the Line’ (2005), again directed by Mangold. Papamichael also shot the Academy Award-nominated western ‘3:10 to Yuma’ (2007) by James Mangold, and the blockbuster ‘Pursuit of Happyness’ (2006) by Gabriele Muccino. Incredibly, he shot two of the most award-winning films of 2011, Alexander Payne’s ‘The Descendants’ and ‘The Ides of March’, directed by George Clooney.

    For his exceptional black and white lensing on the highly acclaimed ‘Nebraska’ (2013) by Alexander Payne, which received six Academy Award nominations, Papamichael received an Oscar nomination, a BAFTA nomination, and an ASC nomination. Papamichael’s work for Mangold’s ‘Ford V Ferrari’ (2019) earned him another BAFTA nomination, and he has been recently lauded for his capturing of 1960s’ Americana in ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ (2020).

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  • Richard Peña

    Masterclasses Moderator: Richard Peña

    Richard Peña was the Programme Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Director of the New York Film Festival from 1988 until 2012. At the Film Society, Peña organised retrospectives of many film artists, as well as major film series devoted to numerous national cinemas...
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    Together with Unifrance, in 1995 he created Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, the leading American showcase for new French cinema. He is Professor of Film and Media Studies at Columbia University, where he specialises in film theory and international cinema, and has served as a Visiting Professor at the Sorbonne, Beijing University, UNAM-Mexico City and the University of São Paulo. He also currently hosts WNET/Channel 13’s weekly ‘Reel 13’.

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