“Solidarity derives from a acknowledging a common set of core needs, respect for each other’s cultural identity and empathy derived from recognition of our mutual humanity. Lack of representation in media results in reduced diversity of ideas and perspectives, a breakdown in solidarity and increasing xenophobia.”

Sophie Beer and Mark Abouzeid
aka “The Curmudgeon and the Unicorn”

It is a core principle of Real Lives that funding be used exclusively for projects and the communities they serve. Therefore, the Association maintains a permanent team comprised of only the two co-Founders, Sophie Beer and Mark Abouzeid. They are supported by a network of partners, collaborators, volunteers, interns and members.

Sophie and Mark are expert in indie filmmaking, visual communication training and production of documentary, ethnographic and cultural storytelling in indigenous and artisan communities. Their work as cultural storytelling partners, their passions reside at the crossroads of exploration, innovation, inspiration and education.

Working with small sustainable equipment, low budgets, limited resources and a hands-on mentality, this method lends itself to empowering young voices, fostering their creativity with tools with which they are familiar, both online and offline . Indie filmmaking and slow media serve as a sustainable strategy to provide underrepresented communities an ability to communicate their own view of the world to future generations and other cultures.

SOPHIE BEER | ART HISTORIAN & ARTISAN

A diverse background in artistic work, scientific research, cultural events and film production.

Sophie Beer

Sophie draws from the diversity of her background knowledge and experience in artistic work, scientific research, cultural events and film production to define, create and implement new projects.

Sophie Beer is an art historian, cultural manager and artisan from Vienna. From an early age, she studied to be a professional stage dancer providing her a core discipline and nurtured her love for the cultural arts. Throughout her studies, she worked for the theatre and performance festival Wiener Festwochen, the Turn On architecture festival and the Kaufhaus Schiepek, where she discovered a love for jewellery.

At the age of 27 she moved to Florence to attend a 3 year program in goldsmithing and jewellery design at the renowned Le Arti Orafe Jewellery School (LAO), from which she graduated in 2015. Throughout her time at LAO she was project assistant for various international and local exhibitions and events, including the Preziosa / Florence Jewellery Week 2015 for which she received an from the Austrian Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (BMUKK). As a delegate of LAO, she participated at the ELIA conference in Glasgow 2015.

Since 2012 she is the registrar of a private contemporary art collection, specialising in digital archiving with TMS (The Museum System) and insurance reporting. In 2016, meeting Mark Abouzeid in Florence, she chose to focus her experience and capabilities into producing documentary films on intangible cultural heritage and artisan crafts. She has since produced numerous short films as well as award winning documentaries partnering with Mark Abouzeid. 

She currently is executive director of Real Lives Multicultural Association.

MARK ABOUZEID | CULTURAL STORYTELLER, PHOTOJOURNALIST & EXPLORER

An extensive career working in International Economics, Technology Development, Innovation Theory, Photojournalism, Documentary Filmmaking and Cultural Heritage.

Mark Abouzeid

Born in Princeton, N.J., to a Lebanese father and Irish-American mother, Mark Abouzeid moved countries for the first time at 10 months of age. Since then, he has lived and worked in over 35 countries including the polar arctic, bedouin deserts and countless seas.

His photos and feature articles have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Huntington Post, The Atlantic, New European, Daily Mirror, Sydney Morning Herald, Adventure Magazine and Forbes

In 2002, he was awarded a Prize for Peace from the region of Puglia for his photographic exhibit, “My Enemy My Brother”. His film about discovering his own heritage, “Finding My Lebanon”, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016. Subsequent short films have won awards in the US, France, India, Australia, and Lebanon.

He is the founder of Cedars Productions and Director for Real Lives. His films have received recognition at festivals around the world including Australia, France, India, Lebanon and the U.S. Combining years of experience in the field, he specialises in promoting “that which binds us as human beings and how we express this through our own endeavours”: intangible heritage; social development; cultural integration; human rights; and economic sustainability.