Born in Cyprus in 1964, Dervish Zaim majored in economics and administrative sciences at Bosphorus University, Istanbul (1983–1988) and has an MA in British cultural studies from Warwick University, UK (1993–1994).
Dervish Zaim has written and directed four feature films, Somersault in a Coffin, Elephants and Grass, Mud and Waiting for Heaven. He also co-directed the documentary, Parallel Trips. His feature films have won numerous awards at international and national festivals including: for Somersault in a Coffin, Best Film at the San Francisco Film Festival and Best Film at the Oeuvres Film Festival, and for Mud, the 2003 UNESCO Award at the Venice Film Festival. He is also the winner of the Yunus Nadi Novel Prize, for his novel, Alice in Wonderland.