JEANA Khoury Discusses Style, Art & Motherhood

18 September 2023

Written by

Country Road, Photography by Niquita Bento

Film director Jeana Khoury is a strong advocate for women in the arts. With a multitude of awards under her belt, her eye for beauty is renowned within the industry.

Here, we join the film director with her son & Niece at home while they paint & play.

The Sweetshop

How have you ended up in the arts?

"I thank my mother and my older brother for my creativity. My mother taught us pottery from early on, and we always had art materials around and were encouraged to make things. Because my brother was so much older than me I was exposed to more sophisticated materials and I copied what he was into - of course, I also loved making things and had an unusual knack for it. I saw Jane Campion's Piano t 16, and I was completely moved. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, from the story down to the dresses. I decided I wanted to be a film director like her. I realised film directing could offer art, writing, story, fashion, music - all in one, and so I fell in love.

Is there a certain creative philosophy that weaves throughout your work?

"I guess there is a quest for beauty, which may sound very shallow, but I am talking about aesthetics in a platonic sense.

How has your practice evolved since the beginning of your career?

"Of course with time you mature, gain confidence, acquire new skills and knowledge, and also your tastes change. I don't get to draw, paint or sculpt like I did when I was younger. But it's something that doesn't go away. Last year I spent a few days in VR drawing in a 3D space which was surreal. I think technology goes hand in hand with everything if you want to be commercial and that naturally evolves.

Personally, there has also been an evolution in people skills.

Directing is a collaboration, & as I work for brands, I can't just do what I want.

The growth has been in realising that the client has a need that I can add value to through expressing their need in the most beautiful, enjoyable and entertaining way.

What has been a career highlight so far?

"Winning a Gold and a Silver Lion at Cannes this year for a piece called #breakingballet. This was my first trip to Cannes and I got to go on stage with my husband who I collaborated with. He works for an advertising agency and I am a Director. This piece involved four directors and we each got to shoot episodes for Jo'burg Ballet making comments on newsworthy stories. I shot the opening and closing episodes.

How do you nurture creativity in Gabriel?

"My husband and I joke that he may go into finance just because we are both heavily involved in the creative fields. Gabriel is still very little and his concentration is short, but I make sure he is exposed to messy play - clay, texture, paints.

Personal style is an easy way to reflect your creativity, how would you describe yours?

"I would say my personal style is simple and tasteful. I love clothes and think they are beautiful and I choose what I find to be beautiful quality pieces that are for specific functions. Clothing speaks to my love of colour, form, pattern and texture and I make my choices based on that and of course what suits my body, what is in fashion and the function of what I am wearing.

This article was first published by Country Road.