Sameh Zoabi was born and raised in Iksal, a Palestinian village near the city of Nazareth. He graduated from Tel Aviv University with a dual degree in Film Studies and English Literature. In 2000, Zoabi received a Fullbright Fellowship to pursue an M.F.A. in Film Direction from the School of the Arts at Columbia University. Zoabi is also the recipient of prestigious residencies at the Cannes Festival Cinefondation as well as the Sundance Screenwriters Lab.
Zoabi’s work is inspired by his upbringing, intermingled with the vast multicultural exchanges that his studies and work permitted. Zoabi’s time in the United States, France and the Middle East granted opportunities to develop unique international perspectives as a writer-director.
Zoabi’s unique voice was recognized by Filmmaker Magazine and he was named one of the “Top 25 New Faces of Independent Cinema.” Furthermore, his work has been shown in many international film festivals such as Cannes, Berlin, Locarno, Sundance, Karlovy Vary, Palm Springs, Dubai, and New York Film Festival. A selection of Zoabi’s notable work includes a short film titled Be Quiet (2005) for which received third prize at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival—Cinefondation Selection. His feature film debut, Man Without a Cell Phone (2010), won several audience awards as well as the Golden Antigone at the 2011 Montpellier Film Festival
Over the past year, Zoabi has expanded his work to television. He directed a television drama, Under the Same Sun and two short documentaries: Arab American Stories (PBS; segment titled “Dean Obeidallah”) and Family Albums (ARTE France; segment titled “Dashing Groom”).
Most recently, Zoabi’s wrote the original script of The Idol (2015). It had its premier at the Toronto and London International film festivals.
Along with his work as a filmmaker, Zoabi developed a keen interest in academia. Currently, Zoabi is working as an adjunct professor at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Hunter College and Columbia University’s MFA program. Zoabi teaches core classes in directing, production and screenwriting.