From Cairo to the Cloud was produced, directed, and filmed by award-winning filmmaker, Michelle Paymar. Her independent work has screened at festivals around the world and she has extensive credits as a director and writer of documentary and non-fiction television programs for NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, CBC, MTV, CTV, Travel, Discovery, History, and other major broadcasters.
Her production company, D-Facto Filmstudio, makes independent documentaries and promotional films for nonprofits and NGOs. Clients include Amnesty International (Canada), Alzheimer's Services of the East Bay (California), and the Ayubowan Women's Project (Sri Lanka). Earlier films include her pioneering AIDS documentary, For Our Lives, and Sippie, a documentary about classic blues artist Sippie Wallace (Co-Directed with Roberta Grossman).
She received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film Directing from the American Film Institute and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Berkeley. Paymar is a member of the International Documentary Association and Women in Film.
SELECTED AWARDS & HONORS
CINE Golden Eagle, Columbus International Film Festival (Silver Chris), Chicago International Film Festival (Silver Hugo), US International Film & Video Festival (Gold Camera), Videographer Award of Excellence, New York Film Festivals (Silver), Aurora Awards (Best of Show for Documentary), Berkeley Film Festival (Best of Festival for Documentary), Summit Creative Award (Gold), Worldfest International Film Festival (Silver & Bronze), National Endowment for the Humanities Grantee.
NOTES ON THE MAKING OF THE FILM
As a Jew raised in North America, Paymar was deeply aware of the Eastern European world of her ancestors, but had scant exposure to the history of Jews in Islamic countries. Learning about the Cairo Geniza and discovering the richness of Judeo-Arabic culture was truly a revelation.
Gaining permission to film in the Ben Ezra synagogue in Cairo required nearly seven years, three Egyptian governments, gaining the support of representatives from the Jewish community of Cairo, the assistance of the Canadian Consulate in Cairo, approval by the Egyptian Ministries of the Interior and Antiquities, the Egyptian state police, the Egyptian tourist police, the Egyptian Press Office, and the Jewish Community of Cairo.
Paymar was the first filmmaker in decades to be allowed to film inside the synagogue.