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We believe in a world where everybody should have an equal opportunity to tell their story.
Together with Movies That Matter Film Festival and ReFOCUS Media Labs we developed Stories That Matter. We want to give starting and experienced film- and acting talents with a refugee background a chance to develop professionally.  
In 2020, our three organizations were ready to launch a two week Medialab for status holders and asylum seekers in The Netherlands and Camp Moria in Lesbos, Greece but Corona happened so we had to cancel the whole project. In April of 2022, we picked up where we left of.

We celebrated their hard work and created a screening for cast and crew during the Movies That Matter Film Festival. We submitted the films to international film festivals. Because of the success of the 2022 pilot edition we aim to take 'Stories That Matter 2' to a next level in 2023.

about the project

our purpose

4 short films will be produced which the participants can add to their portfolio.

The one thing the participants have in common is that they are all filmmakers with a refugee background, located in various countries in Europe.

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Movies that Matter

​Movies that Matter wants to open people's eyes for human rights. They achieve their goal through their annual Movies that Matter film festival, educational work,  organizing events, with advice inland and abroad, and the support of festivals worldwide.

Buddy Film Foundation

Buddy Film Foundation is a stepping stone for professional filmmakers with a refugee background and gives assistance by expanding their professional network and supports by finding paid work in the film industry through workshops, coaching and concrete film projects

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ReFOCUS Media Labs

ReFOCUS Media Labs is dedicated to creating a global network of media labs to equip asylum seekers with modern media creation skills, engaging in school communities with interactive events and media art installations, and has also produced feature-length documentary films with their students. 

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Atifa is 21 years old and was born in Mazar Sharif, Afghanistan. She is living in Stuttgart in Germany for two years now and soon she will start her studies in directing. She is passionate about photography, painting and lives an active life outdoors. Because she found it difficult to express herself in the past, she started by writing in her journal and later illustrate her ideas. With the help of Refocus Media labs, she will soon start directing her very first short film.

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Mohamad Alzhouri

Mohamad is 28 years old, born in Homs, Syria, and lived with his family in Damascus. He found his love for the film when he worked for the first time on a set in 2009. Since then, he kept on working in the industry as a make-up assistant, grip assistant, 2nd and 1st AC, and decoration assistant. In 2010 he found a job opportunity in Lebanon where he improved his skills considerably. In 2012 he decided to flee Syria together with his mother and sister to Lebanon. In 2016 he migrated to the Netherlands. There he got in touch with the Buddy Film Foundation, expanded his network, and worked on sets of movies like Toen Ik Je zag, Marokkaanse Bruiloft, Boy Muts Gun, and others.


Tetiana Komchatnykh

Tetiana was born in the city of Sevastopol. She studied at the Crimean art school. She worked as a florist almost all her life. In 2014, in connection with the occupation of Crimea by Russia, she left for Kyiv, and in 2022 she fled to Krakow, Poland. Tetiana has a daughter. The last 3 years she's been learning about photography and editing at ReFocus Medialab. 

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Elham Ghoreishi

Elham Ghoreishi was born in 1980 in Tehran, Iran. She published an audiobook in Farsi based on her ideologies-women, life, and freedom. In 2022 she had several exhibitions as a fine artist in Eindhoven and Almere Bibliotek where she will exhibit again at the end of March 2023. Next to that, she works as an equestrian, loves adrenaline and everything about horses.



Lance Hossein Tangestani

Lance Hossein Tangestani started to develop his passion for film through internships as a production and lighting assistant when he was 20 years old. As he was looking for his niche during his studies at the Netherlands Film Academy, Lance found himself interested in directing fiction. In his movies, like Qiyama (2018), Shalky (2019), or Buurt Tories (2021), we can observe the echoes of his own experience as an immigrant and the individual looking for his calling in the society. 

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2022 winners

Yaser Taheri

YASER TAHERI has been a member of the ReFOCUS Collective since arriving on Lesvos, Greece in 2019. During the most turbulent phases of our program, Yaser was a lead member of our Citizen Journalism program that chronicled the struggles asylum seekers trapped in Moria camp faced on Lesvos. His work has been part of numerous international reports including major works by BBC Newsnight, BBC Panorama, Aljazeera, Der Spiegel, CNN and The Wall Street Journal. 

"Dancing Bells", depicting the under-reported issue of child abuse in Northern Afghanistan, is Yaser's writing and directing debut. ReFOCUS is actively seeking financing to produce a feature film based upon this short narrative. 

Zahra Gardi

ZAHRA GARDI developed her skills in photography and documentary filmmaking in the ReFOCUS Collective since 2018. Her early short films centered upon issues dealing with gender inequality and challenges faced by young children at risk in her home country of Afghanistan. In 2019-20 Zahra was a critical member of the crew that made "Even After Death", the first feature by ReFOCUS which dealt with those who didn't survive the crossings to Europe from Turkey and Africa. Zahra was also part of the team that produced the 1000 Dreams photography series, which has been widely published and featured in National Geographic. 

"Stitches", based on lived experiences in navigating the asylum process in Greece, is her writing and directorial debut. ReFOCUS is actively seeking financing to produce a feature film based upon this short narrative.

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Walid Taher 

Walid is a participant of the Buddy Career Boost, a project created by Buddy Film Foundation. He is 48 years old, coming from Iraq. He started in 1996 at the Academy of Fine Arts and in the years that followed, he proved himself as a determined filmmaker, actor, and director in Iraq and the Netherlands.

With his latest film 'Pako' he made an international name for himself and won several awards.


Filmon Kiros

During his participation in the Buddy Career Boost project by Buddy Film Foundation, Filmon exuded a great interest in developing his skills as a creative maker. He is 32 years old and comes from Eritrea. In Eritrea he wrote, directed and shot several video clips and long and short films. In the Netherlands he worked as an assistant director with director Teddy Cherim and worked on several film sets in the camera team.

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