Meet the LongShots film festival jury

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Jessica Beshir

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Jessica Beshir is a Mexican-Ethiopian director, producer and cinematographer, who received her education at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her latest film Faya Dayi – a portrait of Ethiopian culture and a stimulating plant that has become its biggest cash crop, khat – premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, and won the top prize at Visions du Réel.

Raised in the Ethiopian city of Harar, Beshir did not always have filmmaking ambitions. For much of her childhood, she believed she would follow in her father’s footsteps, and become a doctor. But when she moved to Mexico, leaving behind an area of war and conflict, she no longer felt the need to practice medicine. From the very beginnings of her time studying film, she has made it her mission to focus her work on the issues facing Ethiopians.

Beshir sees documentary cinema as an interactive medium, a way to connect with others by forging a meaningful, personal understanding of their lives and circumstances. Looking ahead, as the genre continues to change, she hopes filmmakers do everything they can to facilitate this kind of two-way relationship between subject and viewer – to encourage the unique opportunities to learn and listen that only documentary films can provide.

LongShots was created by Anna Bressanin, BBC Reel editor in the US; BBC Reel producers Ana Catalá, Brandon Karl Drenon, Alba Jaramillo and Camelia Sadeghzadeh.

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