Ali works between advertising and documentary filmmaking. She is currently Head of Creative at JustSo creating work for Diageo, Google, Unmind and more. Her branded series for The Olympic Channel, What Moves Me, just won a Webby for Branded Entertainment. Ali directed and produced the  feature documentary, Muerte Es Vidawhich premiered at the Thessaloniki Film festival and has been distributed on iTunes, Amazon and WaterBear. Her films feature on Nowness and have screened at the British Museum. Her ad work has been recognized by Cannes, The One Show, The Emmys and D&AD. She is currently in development on her second feature documentary.

How has your work changed this year as a result of the unpredictable landscape of the last year? 

The pandemic and the BLM movement shaped 2020 for me, and it’s work.

First, the type of talent I’m working with – finally I’m able to work with a more diverse set of people. Working remotely has really helped that as they aren’t all London-based. I’ve always tried to champion diversity, but I feel like the industry is really putting energy behind since the events of last summer. It’s getting a bit easier to find new talent. New talent brings different voices. So work  looks different – it has a new sensitivity, a focus on different stories and people. 

Secondly, let’s add to this a realistic result of the pandemic – smaller budgets. This requires a simplicity and single mindedness to work that I think we had forgotten about.

New talent + single mindedness. So far that’s resulting in more honest and human stories that are told with new perspectives.

What is a piece of work you are most proud to have worked on?

Professionally, it’s What Moves Me, a global content series for the Olympic Channel and Toyota, that features top athletes’ stories of overcoming personal challenges to be their best. Stories of depression, anxiety, sexism. (Osaka’s mental health story would fit right into this series.)

Personally, it’s my first feature documentary, Muerte Es Vida, that I made while recovering from a Traumatic Brain Injury. It went on to screen at festivals around the world and even has Danny Boyle as a fan.

Actually, as I write this, I’m not sure any project ever is going to mean as much to me as that. 

What is one thing the Telly Awards community should know about you? 

I love tequila.

What is most exciting for you at the moment within your industry?

At the moment, it’s the diversity in talent that is trying to break through. You’re finally starting to see women, people of colour, people from underrepresented communities finally starting to be recognised. This is going to change the stories we tell. A whole part of the world are going to actually start seeing themselves reflected in culture. This excites me.

The effect that this will have, in return, back on culture will hopefully create a wave of people that feel represented, that have a voice and feel inspired to be an active part of culture. Creativity helping to push society forward. Exciting.

What piece of video/television has recently inspired you?

My Octopus Teacher. This movie hits all the right notes of inspiration for me… nature connecting to a person. Learning from animals. Reflecting because of our world around us. It’s just like the other sea story plays continuously in our house – Octonauts. Yes, the cartoon. Loved by my son and always on. We’re all in deep sea life lessons in this house!