Naked Ambition

Zarah dreams of being an actress, but when her side hustle as a stripper steals her confidence she must find the ambition to channel her rage, shame, and talent if she hopes to land the role of a lifetime. 

  • Mai Iskander
    Garbage Dreams, Words Of Witness, Banksy Does New York
  • Candice Edwards-Marchrones
    Best Little Whorehouse In Rochdale, Find My Iphone, A Ghosting Carol
  • Candice Edwards-Marchrones (EP)
    Best Little Whorehouse In Rochdale, Find My Iphone, Ghosting Carol
  • Alessia Gatti
    Oatmeal, Radici, Alone together
  • Stephen Reich
    Key Cast
    Bonding, Law and Order: SVU, Power, A Most Violent Year
  • Zenon Zelenuich
    Key Cast
    Madame Secretary, Bronx SIU, Paulie and Jake
  • Candice Edwards-Marchrones
    Key Cast
    Best Little Whorehouse In Rochdale, Find My Iphone, Ghosting Carol
  • Deborah Kampmier (1st AD)
    Key Crew
    Hounddog, Virgin, Split
  • Luca Fantini (DP)
    Key Crew
    Mars, The Mother, Living for 42
  • Anthony Rafaelle (Colorist)
    Key Crew
    Blue Jasmine, Cafe Society, Blue Bloods
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    14 minutes 55 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 8, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    20,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Mai Iskander

Mai Iskander of Arab American decent is the producer, director and cinematographer of the award-winning documentary films 'Garbage Dreams' (SXSW, IDFA) and 'Words of Witness' (Berlinale, Los Angeles Film Festival).

Her first documentary feature film 'Garbage Dreams' was shortlisted for the 2010 Academy Awards in the category of Best Feature Length Documentary, was nominated for the 2010 Best Documentary by the DGA, and won 26 international awards including the Al Gore Reel Current Award and IDA Humanitas Award. 'Garbage Dreams' aired on PBS/Independent Lens and PBS/Global Voices. Funded by the John S. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, 'Words of Witness' won numerous awards and aired on AlJazeera America.

Mai’s recognizable visual watermark and innate understanding of diverse storytelling has also landed her in the director’s chair for the campaigns of major commercial clients such Whirlpool, Liberty Mutual, and Apple. Her ‘Care Counts’ campaign for Whirlpool was awarded four Lions at the 2017 Cannes Festival (Grand Prix, a Gold Lion, and two Bronze Lions).

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Director Statement

When I first read “Naked Ambition,” I was immediately drawn in. Zarah’s story turns the male gaze on its head, by employing a way of looking that digs into the main character’s inner life, affording her agency, and allows us to empathize with her being the object.
Naked Ambition is written, directed, and acted with precisely this female gaze in mind. My objective in directing this film was to reclaim the body to evoke feeling, use the camera to show how it feels to be the object of the male gaze, and return the power into the hands of the protagonist. So that Zarah embodies her own fortitude through her own authenticity and expression.
My approach to story telling is deeply heartfelt, raw and human. This film takes viewers into the heart of what it takes for a woman to intimately experience one own’s power.
To me this is quite bold. Because – palpably, visibly – our power needs to be expressed and shared among all of us.