Yaara Bou Melhem is a journalist and and founder of Illuminate Films.
Yaara’s films include exclusive reports where she crawls through Syrian rebel-held tunnels, films in lawless Libyan jails after the fall of Gaddafi and follows cannabis farmers in Lebanon joining the fight against ISIS.
She has also gained rare access to places in Kazakhstan, filmed in remote Aboriginal communities on taboo subjects like youth suicide and reported more uplifting stories about doctors giving free health care in Nepal, a greening the desert program in Jordan and a mangrove restoration project in Indonesia.
In 2019, she was named the Australian Freelance Journalist of the Year for her observational documentary ‘War on Truth’ about Time Person of the Year, Maria Ressa and her global campaign against disinformation. It is now being developed into a longer documentary. Other films include ‘Creating a Nation’ about an Aboriginal man creating an independent Indigenous nation and ‘Saudi Design Queens’ about two young women in Saudi Arabia hosting a design event that is pushing boundaries of art and tradition.
Yaara is currently directing and co-producing a feature documentary, ‘Dark Arts’, a part human, part artificial intelligence driven journey into the visualizations of one of the world’s leading contemporary artists. The film has been supported through the inaugural Shark Island Institute Development Lab. Production partners include In Films in Australia and Participant Media, founded by Jeff Skoll in the US.
Yaara’s films have received a number of accolades including two UN Media Peace Awards, New York Film & Television Festival Awards, a Hong Kong Human Rights Press Award and Walkley Awards.