Indie Filmmaker Khalid El-Jelailati Set On Breaking The ‘Culture Ceiling’

Screenwriter and film director Khalid El-Jelailati, also known as IndieKhalid, has set his mind on overcoming all hurdles to achieve the goals that help him share his love for making independent films.

El-Jelailati describes himself as being “possessed by the film bug”. This fundamentally becomes part of what drives him to keep creating an authentic filmic style shaped by his adoration for classic cinema and the indie film movements.
Having grown up between two cultures, that of an Arabesque Lebanon and a spirited South Africa, this filmmaker uses this diversity to his advantage, “I want to tell stories from an Arab/Muslim point of view. I didn’t grow up in an artistic household. I wasn’t exposed to any sort of artistic culture. Indie is so important to me because it made the magic of cinema understandable as a craft. It democratised filmmaking for a young boy from Arab culture.”
When asked to reflect on his filmmaking journey, El-Jailailati is very clear about his biggest challenge; he describes this as the cultural glass ceiling of the industry. This hurdle of elitism and exclusivity meant that he had to overcome countless barriers but has forged ahead with gusto and grit. Khalid has written, directed and produced many projects, including feature films Aya(2018), Nandi(2021) & Olivia(2022).
His advice to young filmmakers starting their careers is “Go out and make a film. There’s so much you don’t know about filmmaking that you can’t learn in a book. You must set up a scene and film it, and then you’ll know what it means to be a filmmaker.”
The filmmaker has some exciting projects on the horizon. He is working on a black and white animated short film, is in the middle of writing his next feature film that he will be directing, and after a rigorous selection process, he has been selected to produce a micro-budget project for the NFVF and Netflix.
“Filmmaking, more specifically cinema, is about access. Access to opportunities, resources, and the confidence to explore. With this campaign with Netflix alongside the NFVF, we are now helping lift the ‘Culture Ceiling’ for grassroots communities who need this kind of access.”
The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have had many devastating effects worldwide. This is true for the film industry but following El-Jailalati’s journey inspires hope for the independent filmmaker. There is a flickering light at the end of a cinematic tunnel, and it’s only going to get brighter.

By Andrew Germishuys

Founder of SAMDB, Andrew has worked full time in the film industry since the early 2000's. He has trained as an actor, completing his LAMDA Gold Medal, and attending many courses in Cape Town acting studios, with masterclasses with some of the international industries top directors, producers and filmmakers. Working as an actor and armourer in the film and television industry have given Andrew a great balance of skills across the board when it comes to the entertainment industry. Catch him on Twitter: Instagram: IMDb:

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