Kafia Haile is a writer/director and the founder of Zenzele Pictures.
Prior to becoming a filmmaker, Kafia began her career at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Based at the Pentagon, Kafia served as DIA’s Iraqi tribes and culture analyst. In 2008 she deployed to Iraq as a subject matter expert on political reconciliation, helping identify former insurgents and tribal leaders willing to join the U.S. military’s fight against Al Qaeda. Upon her return, she was promoted to Senior Analyst for Current and Crisis Intelligence, a position that required her to brief members of the National Security Council’s Iraq Staff, the National Intelligence Council, and the Director of Intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Influenced by her experiences abroad, Kafia turned to film and TV to introduce global politics and social justice to a wider audience. Four years after her deployment, she relocated to Los Angeles and enrolled in University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinematic Arts. The only African-American in the class of 2014’s Writing Program, Kafia was the sole feature writer to graduate with distinction. She was awarded the Rock Hudson Memorial Scholarship, Bernard Kantor Memorial Scholarship, and an award from the National Association of Theater Owners.
In 2015, her screenplay SATTAR placed in the top 50 of the Nicholl Screenwriting Competition, administered by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences among more than 7,400 entries. In 2016, she was named an Official Artist of the New York Television Festival and a semifinalist in the Works for Progress Initiative for scripts that inspire social change. Her short film CAST THE FIRST STONE was an Official Selection of the 2017 California Women’s Film Festival. She is the writer of MR. HALL’S INTERVIEW, a short film lauded in Fortune Magazine as a film that "everyone who works should see."
In addition to filmmaking, Kafia is a visual artist with works on display in private collections, for Firelight Foundation’s Cradles Project, and They Reminisce Over You: We Are Troy Davis, an art show drawing attention to racial disparities in the legal system. She was featured in McKenna Museum of Art's inaugural Online Digital Display.
Prior to attending USC, Kafia received a Masters Degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University where she was the recipient of the Joan Gillespie Fellowship. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree, Phi Beta Kappa, from Spelman College in her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.