Film Director Nadia Naffa has shed light on entrepreneur and business owner Sarah Beydoun who owns Sarah’s Bag.
Sarah gives women who have been enduring imprisonment, abuse, and prostitution a second chance to support their families and gain dignity. By filming these women create unique handbags, Nadia shows how women can improve their communities and build sisterhood. On ShortsTV, new film “FIVE” will celebrate the perseverance of women entrepreneurs who have purpose-driven businesses. The Knockturnal spoke with Nadia about being the film director of Sarah’s bag.
The Knockturnal: In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, what does it mean to be a women entrepreneur?
Nadia Naffa: “Entrepreneurship is not always purely business. It is community work. It is a life mission that transcends from one’s self to others. When you have a solid belief in social change and you have a support system at home, you can be the change and you can inspire others to join. It’s important we all play a role in changing our reality and especially the reality of women’s lives in our region.”
The Knockturnal: Why was it important to tell Sarah’s story? Because the world is evolving, why do many employers have problems hiring people who have been imprisoned, abused or experienced prostitution?
Nadia Naffa: “Sarah’s life mission is focused on giving back life to imprisoned women whose lives were stolen. Sarah gives women not only a purpose to live but she unleashes their potential to excel in doing something creative and bringing to life beautiful and artistic pieces to be worn and used by other women. Filming Sarah’s team (the imprisoned women and the women in the villages) and the circumstances they face and the social stigmas in their community and traditions.”
The Knockturnal: On Aug. 4, 2020, Sarah’s storefront was damaged due to an explosion. She is still working to rebuild her store and expand her business. This is 20 years of hard work. Why must many people experience suffering/hardship while trying to be successful?
Nadia Naffa: “This is due to the fact that society still undermines women’s work, ability, and leadership. Sarah and many other women in Lebanon and the region are challenging this reality and are leading the change towards equality.”
The Knockturnal: Many women who worked with Sarah design these bags become stronger in their mind, body, and spirit. How has art/design helped people express their emotions?
Nadia Naffa: “Art moves people and allows them to express their deep emotions. For women facing suffering and hardships on a daily basis, art is a savior especially when utilized in a way to also generate income and enhance their livelihood.”
The Knockturnal: As the director, you highlighted everyday women who work with Sarah to support their families. Can you describe the role of a woman and the value of women in the workplace, school, and home?
Nadia Naffa: “Women are the center of all my stories. I was raised by strong women and I am surrounded by women activists who are paving the way and changing the reality of women’s rights. I come from generation of women activists in my own family, my aunts have spearheaded the feminist movement in Jordan in the fifties, my sister is currently one of the main activists in the country and my mother was one of the first few women to play professional sports and lead national teams. Women’s value and worth need to be celebrated and acknowledged by society and also by enacting equal rights. We can no longer be silent about undermining women’s contributions and about the inequalities that result from the lack of social and political support as well as the lack of legal protection. Filming ‘Sarah’s Bag’ was a natural continuation of Sarah’s story and mine. In our own ways we are similar. Our journey and beliefs share many commonalities exemplified in the film itself and in the process of filming. When I met Sarah, her mother, and the women in her life, I realized the reason behind her drive. She is surrounded by strong women and inspired by her mother, sister, and the women she works with. Sarah’s life mission is focused on giving back life to imprisoned women whose lives were stolen. Sarah gives women not only a purpose to live but she unleashes their potential to excel in doing something creative and bringing to life beautiful and artistic pieces to be worn and used by other women.”
The Knockturnal: In the media, we sometimes notice that many women try to compete with each other. From the film, “Sarah’s bag” Why was it important to show women embodying togetherness, empowerment, and sisterhood?
Nadia Naffa: “Women can receive the best support from each other. I have found that women who work together collectively create impact. Traditionally we have been taught that women compete with each other, partly because there was such a scarcity of jobs and scarcity of leadership positions available for women. The truth is that women face many structural, legal, and societal difficulties that prevent them from fulfilling their ambitions, and that channeling the power of collaboration is how we’ll change the equation. I felt extremely proud of the hard work and professionalism that my team executed during the process of preparation and filming. We filmed ‘Sarah’s Bag’ by an all-women crew whose lives were also touched by strong women and who are making an impact and changing the lives of other women, children, and families. Filmmaking is a tool for a social change and when strong stories are created and manifested by women, this will impact not only mindsets but also social and political realities of women. I aim through these stories to focus on ways to ensure equality, solidarity, justice, peace, and hope.”