NYFA Screenwriting Alum Mohamed Diab Directs Marvel Studios “Moon Knight”
April 7, 2022
Marvel’s first Arab director may be new to Hollywood filmmaking, but Mohamed Diab has an internationally-acclaimed body of work to his name. NYFA 1-Year Screenwriting alum Mohamed Diab is an award-winning Egyptian screenwriter and director known for telling intimate stories. His directorial debut Cairo 678, the story of three women in search of justice after being victims of sexual harassment in Egypt, won several awards. But despite the great success of his first film, Diab waited five years to release his sophomore film. His reason: he wanted to be better. Diab told NYFA, “Time is your best ally … I got better. I spent five years working on myself, learning, watching movies, watching international cinema, trying to get better and trying to teach myself.” And the results of Diab’s five years of preparation were tangible, his second feature film, Clash, was the official opening selection at the 2016 Cannes Festival, ‘Un Certain Regard’ category.
After the international success of his first two feature films, more doors opened. Diab found himself with a buffet of scripts and projects at his disposal – and he said “no” to them. For him, it was important to connect to the material and the projects weren’t clicking. Instead, he set out to write scripts with his wife and creative partner, Sarah Goher, and sold them to studios like Blumhouse Productions.
Everything changed when he read Jeremy Slater’s script for Moon Knight. Diab and Goher immediately set out to prepare what would be a 200-page pitch complete with locations, a score, tone, pictures and costumes. The pitch would become Moon Knight’s bible, what is today the Marvel miniseries.
The character and the story were distinct and for the Disney + miniseries, there was only one man for the job.
Mohamed Diab and Oscar Isaac on the set of Moon Knight from Esquire
Diab has long championed the fight for Arab representation and been vocal about misrepresentations of Egypt as a flat desert place with only pyramids interrupting the landscape. Diab told Screen Rant, “The way we are always portrayed in cinema has always bothered Egyptians, because it’s mostly not shot in Egypt. Imagine Paris, and you’re seeing Big Ben at the back. It’s insulting, and it hurts. Or it’s shot in Egypt, but you’re trying to make it a bit exotic, so you always see the pyramids and the desert.”
As Marvel’s first Arab director, Diab made sure that this time around, Egypt was represented accurately. By collaborating closely with the film’s production designer and costume designer, Diab was able to depict Egypt as it is. He also made sure to bring along some of Egypt’s best, editor Ahmez Hafez and Egyptian composer Hesham Nazih to create the series’ score and ensured that 90% of the film’s Egyptians roles went to Egyptians. Diab told NYFA,“I hope that Moon Knight, if it succeeds, opens doors for more Egyptians – I tried my best to make a Moon Knight with an Egyptian flavor.”
Diab’s 200-page bible and search for authenticity proved to be successful; the series premiered last week to rave reviews.
Diab’s former screenwriting instructor and current Director of the Film Festival Department at NYFA, Crickett Rumley remembers Mohamed fondly, “I remember Mohamed as a thoughtful, inquisitive, observant student of both screenwriting and human nature. It’s been thrilling to watch him grow as a filmmaker, to see his stories connect with audiences first in his home country then in larger and larger arenas on the international film scene.”
Mohamed Diab shared with NYFA his advice for aspiring filmmakers, “believe in yourself … The people who achieve their goals are the people who bet on themselves and take risks.” He added, “I knew one day I would be back [in Hollywood], I was in Hollywood 15 years ago and I knew I would be back when I was ready.”
The New York Film Academy congratulates Mohamed Diab on all of his hard work, success and dedication to authentic representation!
Please note: NYFA does not represent that these are typical or guaranteed career outcomes. The success of our graduates in any chosen professional pathway depends on multiple factors, and the achievements of NYFA alumni are the result of their hard work, perseverance, talent and circumstances.