Sondos Shabayek is an Egyptian filmmaker, acting coach and intimacy co-ordinator based in Berlin. She has over 12 years of experience working with actors and non-actors, facilitating storytelling workshops, documenting personal narratives, and directing theatre performances of women and gender-based stories.Sondos’s work is dedicated to exploring authentically telling stories of herself and other women and being part of a truthful and honest representation of the lives of women on screen. And she is passionate about bringing Intimacy coordination to the film and TV industry in the MENA region.
Sondos was the recipient of the 2021 Voices that Matter scholarship – Women in Screen industries and last October completed her MA in directing at the Metfilm school in Berlin. And in 2022 she was selected to join the Intimacy Coordinator Training program created and run by Safe Sets funded by Netflix and supported by the National Film and Video Foundation and the Independent Producers Organisation in South Africa. Sondos is also now part of Safe sets company (South African company offering intimacy coordinators for film, television and theatre. Safe Sets Intimacy also have coordinators in the UK and Spain, and collaborators across Europe, America, Brazil, Canada, Australia and New Zealand).
‘She said no’ is her most recent project; a short film about a cathartic moment between an Egyptian couple based in Berlin waiting in line to view a flat. At the moment, she is working on her first feature film ‘And me too’. The film is still in its’ development phase and recently took part in Torino film lab ‘Next feature film’ as well as Durban talents.
In 2013 she wrote and directed award winning ‘Girl’ a short film about harassment in Cairo, as part of ‘Women in new Egypt’ project launched by Misr international film company, the British embassy in Egypt, and the British council. The short film portrayed a few minutes of the life of a young girl while walking through the streets of Cairo, exposing the brutalities of street harassment at the time. In 2019 she wrote the short film ‘The Night Before’, produced by Arabiska teatren in Sweden, and was also assistant director of the production. “The Night Before” is about a prebridal henna party (cultural equivalent to hen night), where the bride is on a secret and unorthodox quest to find more about what her first sex is going to be like.
Prior to her work in film, she worked as the director of The BuSSy project; A performing arts project that documents gender based stories and presents them on stage. She has also worked as a freelance storytelling workshop facilitator in Egypt and abroad with different cultural and social entities. She developed over the years a methodology for creating safe space in workshops where participants can openly share intimate stories about sensitive topics and explore how to take those stories to the stage, and for the documentation of personal narratives and working with story-owners on how to take the stories to the stage. Her work in this kind of documentary/psychodramatic theatre has deepened her understanding of the actor’s process and inner world and allowed her to explore and experiment with individuals through a more human-centered approach that focuses the process on authenticity, fully dedicating the methodology and tools of the work, to the goal of bringing truthful representations of characters and stories to the stage and screen.
The passion for authentic artistic expression continued to guide Sondos’s choices and artistic voice, as she shifted from the theatre to the film world. Inspired by the renowned director Mike Leigh’s method of character and story development, and building on her own experience of working in theatre, writing and directing testimonies and stories and developing stage performances with non actors, Sondos created her own world and technique of screenwriting where she recreates the story and rebuilds characters with her cast through improvisational workshops/guided improvisation. She believes that this technique allows the cast to be part of the process and brings to the film a strong sense of boldness and authenticity.