Student earns trip to Tribeca Film Festival

On a Tuesday this past spring, after his last class ended at 3:30 p.m., Khalid Al-Sudairy ’17 headed to New York City to see a film.

But this wasn’t an ordinary night at the movies. Al-Sudairy was off to the Tribeca Film Festival in Lower Manhattan to see the documentary film he’d had a part in editing. The documentary, Tickling Giants, tells the story of heart-surgeon-turned-talk-show-host Bassem Youssef—nicknamed “the Jon Stewart of Egypt”—and the ways he uses humor and satire to speak out against a repressive government.

For Al-Sudairy, the experience of seeing the final film on the big screen—and his own name in the credits—was “out of this world.”

“The feeling I had walking into the theater, watching the movie, and especially after the movie when I saw everyone and reunited with the people I worked with all summer, was beyond anything I had ever felt,” he said. “I always get an amazing thrill out of editing and showing my own films, but the feeling I got after watching the movie was just incredible.”

Al-Sudairy, a film and new media studies major from Saudi Arabia, found out about the internship last summer through his sister, Jawaher, who works in urban planning in New York City and helped him connect with film director Sara Taksler (who is also senior producer at The Daily Show, where she worked with the real Jon Stewart). Taksler set Al-Sudairy up with an interview with the film’s producer and assistant editor.

Though Al-Sudairy is listed as a production assistant in the film’s credits, his internship, which ran from late May to August 2015 in New York City, involved much more.

“At first my duties were simply to be an intern and do research, emails, funding management and office work. That only lasted about a week or two, as they needed more assistant editors,” Al-Sudairy said. “They taught me how to use Avid, the editing software. Luckily, with my background in multiple editing software programs, I caught on pretty quickly.”

Soon he was working eight-hour days and was assigned his own computer so he could spend more time editing.

“The group I worked with was just amazing, and they really made my time there unforgettable,” he said. “I learned everything from using completely new software to learning how a real feature documentary is edited.”

After the internship ended, Al-Sudairy kept in touch with the producer, who let him know as soon as the film was accepted to the Tribeca Film Festival so he could purchase a ticket.

On the night of the screening, Al-Sudairy and his friend and roommate Abraham Ziner ’17 arrived at the theater just 25 minutes before showtime—and they were back on the road to Wheaton by midnight in order to catch their classes the next morning.

Also there to see the film were Al-Sudairy’s sisters, Jawaher and Sara, and his brother-in-law Mashhour Al-Ibrahim.

“I thought the final film was really good. It really did exceed my expectations,” he said. “Beyond everything, it really did mean the world that they were there with me. I shared that moment with some of the most important and influential people in my life.”

With plans for a career in film production, Al-Sudairy gained additional experience this summer when he returned to Saudi Arabia to work on two documentary film projects with his sister Jawaher.

“Beyond that, I will be pushing myself to make short films during my free time, as I just simply love being behind the camera and editing my work,” he said.