Jessica Beshir is an award-winning Mexican-Ethiopian director, cinematographer and producer. Her latest film “Faya Dayi” premiered earlier this year at Sundance, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. The film has gone on to win awards and widespread praise. It will be released theatrically by Janus Films in North America in September. Criterion Channel president Peter Becker called it “shot for shot, one of the most gorgeously cinematic films we’ve ever seen.” Robert Daniels at RogerEbert.com called Beshir’s “assured debut is a spellbinding documentation of a self-destructive walking dream with few signs of an ending.” A visually breathtaking narrative/documentary hybrid about the khat trade, a lucrative Ethiopian crop with a psychoactive effect, is told through a hallucinatory patchwork of episodes on those who cultivate it, those who partake, and the local youth who seek something more out of life.
She made her directorial debut with her short film “Hairat,” which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and was released by the Criterion Channel, Topic, and The Atlantic. Her short films “He Who Dances on Wood” (PBS) and “Heroin” (Topic) have have screened in festivals and museums around the world including Hot Docs, Rotterdam International Film Festival, IDFA, Tribeca Film Festival, the Eye Film Museum, and the Museum of the Moving Image in New York, among others. She is a recipient of the Sundance documentary fellowship, Jerome Foundation, Doha Film Institute and NYSCA artist fellowships. She received her B.A in film studies and literature at UCLA.