Gaya Jiji

In my war-torn country, the only way out is art. For me, that means cinema. In the face of the atrocity of events, I am sure that many talents and means of expression that could not exist before will emerge, as a means of escape.

In her films, Gayaneh Jiji, a Syrian filmmaker living in France, explores the taboos surrounding women's rights in Syria.

Updated on 22/02/2019

2 min

Born in Damascus, Syria, in 1979, Gayaneh Jiji (also known as Gaya Jiji) began studying French civilisation in Paris in 1998. In 2010, she graduated from the Paris-8 University. She returned to Syria to write her first feature film, My Favourite Fabric (“Mon tissu préféré”) (2018), for which she was influenced by Belle de jour by Luis Buñuel (1967).

The Syrian filmmaker is an exception in a country where filmmakers, especially of fictional works, are overwhelmingly male. On the margins of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, she was then chosen by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon to receive – together with film-makers Leyla Bouzid and Ida Panahandeh – the Young Talents Women in Motion prize, which aims to stimulate discussion around the place of women in cinema.

After three short films – The Haunted House (2003), The Father... Too (2009) and Morning, Noon, Evening... and Morning (2011), Gaya Jiji began work on her first feature film, My Favourite Fabric. Through the experiences of a beautiful young woman in a Damascus brothel, she explores, against the backdrop of the Arab Spring, sexuality, the body, women's rights, and related taboos, more social than religious – a rare theme in Syrian cinemas but one which she had already discussed in Morning, Noon, Evening... and Morning.

In May 2018, at the Cannes Film Festival, My Favourite Fabric was part of the Un Certain Regard selection, which highlights bold films by young directors.

The life path of Gayaneh Jiji, who now lives in France, has taken her from Syria to France and back, but recognition of her work has reached far beyond the borders of these two countries. The Father... Too received the FIFAK Festival jury's Special Prize in Tunisia in 2009. Morning, Noon, Evening... and Morning conquered the world and was presented at festivals in Tokyo (Japan), Doha (Qatar) and Rotterdam (The Netherlands).

Gayaneh Jiji would have liked to have filmed My Favourite Fabric in Damascus, where she was born and spent two years at the heart of the conflict co-writing the film, but the situation in Syria forced her instead to film in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2017.

Morning, Noon, Evening... and Morning (Matin, midi, soir... et matin) by Gaya Jiji
Morning, Noon, Evening... and Morning (Matin, midi, soir... et matin) by Gaya Jiji
  • 1979


    Gayaneh Jiji is born in Damascus (Syria).

  • 2003


    She directs her first short film, The Haunted House.

  • 2014


    She is the first Syrian woman invited to the Fabrique des cinémas du monde (“The World Cinema Factory”) at the Cannes Film Festival.

  • 2016


    Gayaneh Jiji is chosen by Geena Davis and Susan Surandon to receive the Young Talent Award by Women in Motion, awarded by the Kering Foundation and the Cannes Film Festival.

  • 2018


    The release of My Favourite Fabric, the first feature film by Gayaneh Jiji and part of the Un Certain Regard selection at Cannes, is scheduled for the second half of the year.

The Institut français and the director.

For her film My Favourite Fabric (“Mon tissu préféré”), Gaya Jiji participated in the Institut français’ Fabrique Cinéma in 2013.


This programme supports young filmmakers from developing countries to help them enter the international film market.


L'institut français, LAB