The Team


MOUNA ZAYLAH is an arts manager and producer with 21 years experience in the arts and community cultural development sector. She has been the Co-Director of the Arab Film Festival since 2007. In 2015 she was appointed on the Film and Television Industry Advisory Committee (Screen NSW). She worked for Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE) 1999 – 2016 as a manager of the CCD and Artistic programs and other arts organisations including Urban Theatre Projects as administrator and project officer (1992-1997) and Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in administration, curatorial and project coordinator roles (1997-1999) and a range of other community and youth based organisations as a freelance project coordinator and consultant. She is currently employed at Campbelltown Arts Centre as the Business Coordinator overseeing operations, partnerships and education and creative learning programs.
FADIA ABBOUD is a filmmaker and cultural producer, combining community cultural development practices and digital media. Fadia has been the Co-Director of the Arab Film Festival Australia since 2007. Most recently she Co-Directed an episode of ‘Here Come the Habibis’.  She also created, wrote and directed a web series, “I Luv U But…”, a web series funded by Screen Australia and nominated at the 2013 Beirut Social Media Awards.  Her previous works includes “I Remember 1948”, a documentary that was screened on SBS in 2008 and two short dramas, one of them “Big Trouble, Little Fish” screened at Flickerfest. She has worked on a range of screen-based initiatives at Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE) for over 12 years.


DR PAULA ABOOD is a community cultural development practitioner, writer and educator. She has worked with diverse communities in capacity building projects for 28 years. Her community productions include Parenting Stories (2010), Hurriya and her Sisters (2009), The Book of African Australian Stories (2006), Poetry on Rooftops (2006), The Book of the Living (2006) and Bread and Other Stories (2002). Paula was awarded the 2007 Western Sydney Artists’ Fellowship for the blogging project Race and the City and was the 2013 recipient of the Australia Council’s Ros Bower Award for lifetime achievement in community cultural development practice. She has coordinated, developed resources and taught on subjects including cultural diversity, advocacy, community development, human rights approaches in community work, and community cultural development at TAFE and in community education settings. Paula works on creative projects with small and emerging community groups and community organisations across Sydney.
ALISSAR GAZAL is an activist and an artist, she has worked in both theatre and film, behind the camera and the curtain as well as in front of the camera and on the boards. Alissar Is a Documentary producer and director She is also a producer who has worked on various educational screen-based resources for local government and health organizations. Alissar is currently working on many ideas for many films, hoping that one day one of them will reach full production, she is also spending a lot of time photographing her dogs. Alissar is also a member of the film advisory panel for the Sydney Film Festival.
FIRAS NAJI is an environmental consultant and a community activist. He has participated in a range of arts and community events with a view to educating the wider Australian community about the issues affecting Iraqi and Arabic communities. Such issues include racism and discrimination, refugees, community development and Middle East international affairs. Firas has been on the management boards of the Canterbury-Bankstown Migrant resource Centre and the Iraqi Australian University Graduates Forum. Some of his latest activities include production of Iraqi Cultural Day in 2013 and 2015, production of Mesopotamian Colours, a shot film and live performance about Iraqi culture, participated as guest speaker in Beyond Sectarianism workshop with Sydney University and co-hosted the Long Table as part of Little Baghdad project with Powerhouse Youth Theatre. He is also is the producer of Canberra Says Noand Assistant Director of The Supermarket, short films still under development.
Mehal Krayem
MEHAL KRAYEM has completed a PhD at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). Her research interests include popular culture, religion and gender with a heavy focus on Arab representation on Australian screens. Mehal is also cofounder and co-editor of, an online space dedicated to recording Arab Australian narratives. In addition to writing, Mehal teaches at UTS across the Communications and Media Studies streams.



Mouna Zaylah
Fadia Abboud

Dr Paula Abood
Alissar Gazal
Mehal Krayem
Firas Naji

Cardinal Spin

Ludwig El-Haddad

Jerome Pearce – Just Pixels

Meiying Saw – Raging Yoghurt


Ludwig El-Haddad

Ludwig El-Haddad | Production
Layla Naji | Caligraphy Artwork

Julia Mendel
Morgan Graham

John Kirkman | Executive Director
Kayur Shrestha | Operations and Finance Manager
Julian Lankshear | Information and Technology Officer
Barry Gamba | Producer, Screen Cultures
Julia Mendel | Producer, Digital Communication
Linda Newton | Fundraising Manager
Ivana Jrisek | Grants and Funding Manager
Morgan Graham | Digital Communications Assistant
Safia Amidou | Administration

The Arab Film Festival Australia is a project of Information and Cultural Exchange (I.C.E.)