Tag Archives: United Nations

First-ever Pakistan Film Festival opens at UN

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By: Samaa Web Desk

UNITED NATIONS: The first-ever Pakistan Film Festival kicked off Friday night with a largely-attended red carpet reception at UN Headquarters in New York in the presence of some of the biggest Pakistani stars, ambassadors accredited to the UN, community members, media and movie buffs.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, who was the chief guest, congratulated the Pakistan Mission to the UN for organizing the two-day festival that will showcase at Asia Society top-rated Pakistani movies over the weekend, saying that cultural events such as this one played a key role in promoting better understanding among peoples of the world.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi, who took the initiative to hold the festival, read out a welcome address, saying the films from Pakistan will convey the energy and dynamism that defines today’s Pakistan.

In his brief remarks, Eliasson, the UN deputy secretary-general, also said that art, film and music build bridges across cultures and promote peace through inter-cultural understanding.

He welcomed Pakistani film stars to the United Nations, saying, “You have given life to this building…”

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson providing opening remarks at UN Headquarters/New York for first-ever Pakistan Film Festival on December 3, 2016. (Photo credit: http://www.samaa.tv)

“You have already conquered Pakistan, now you will conquer New York,” he said, as applause rang out.

Pakistani actors, who travelled to New York from Pakistan, included Mahira Khan, Mawra Hocane, Nabeel Qureshi, Saba Qamar, Wajahat Rauf, Yasir Hussain, Sheheryar Munawar, Asim Raza, Tooba Siddiqui, Adeel Hussain, Sanam Saeed, Jerjees Seja (JJ), Producer, Afia Serena Nathaniel and Mehreen Jabbar.

But Sabiha Khanum, the popular heroine of the 50s and 60s, received the biggest applause when Ambassador Lodhi introduced her.

The films to be screened include two brand new ones, which will premiere in New York, Dobara Pher Say and Lahore Say Agay. Others will include Actor in law, Pakistan’s Oscar nomination, Mahe Meer, Oscar award winner Sharmeen Obaid’s animated film, 3 Bahadur, Dukhtar, Dance Kahani and Ho Mann Jahan.

Pakistani Ambassador to the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi addresses the Opening Day audience at the first-ever Pakistan Film Festival at the UN Headquarters in New York City December 3, 2016. (Photo via @MaleehaLodhi twitter)

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi

Ambassador Lodhi told the gathering that the festival has been organized to both acknowledge the remarkable revival of Pakistan’s cinema and to showcase and celebrate it.

“This revival has been spearheaded by a new wave of young filmmakers and actors; they have produced a devise array of movies that have been pushing the boundaries and charting and breaking new ground by tackling bold themes and using digital technology,” she said.

“It is appropriate that we are launching the Festival here at the United Nations which embodies and represents the finest example of our shared humanity,” the Pakistani envoy said.

“Art, it is rightly said, transcends borders and connects people from different backgrounds and nations and unites all civilizations and cultures in a collective celebration of our emotional lives.”

(Photo via @MaleehaLodhi)

Since assuming charge as Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to UN, Ambassador Lodhi has undertaken several cultural projects and organized a series of events to promote Pakistan’s soft image and highlight its modern and vibrant culture but also its ancient civilizational roots.

The Pakistan Mission, under her leadership, organized a “Sufi Night” at the UN General Assembly hall to mark Pakistan Day earlier this year featuring Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

She also organized an Exhibition of Contemporary Art from Pakistan at the UN, which showcased some of the best works of art to demonstrate how Pakistan is becoming a powerhouse of creativity.  She was also instrumental in bringing the Lahore Literary Festival to the Asia Society in New York.

*Featured photo: UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson providing opening remarks at UN Headquarters/New York for first-ever Pakistan Film Festival (Photo credit: http://www.samaa.tv)

(Source: http://www.samaa.tv)


After Spring the outstanding new documentary feature film from Executive Producer Jon Stewart will have its DC premiere at the AFI Docs film festival on June 23 and 24After Spring is directed by Steph Ching and Ellen Martinez who are the recipients of a MacArthur Foundation Award.

With the Syrian conflict now in its sixth year, millions of people continue to be displaced. This is the story of what happens next. By following two refugee families in transition and aid workers fighting to keep the camp running, viewers will experience what it is like to live in Zaatari, the largest camp for Syrian refugees. With no end in sight for the conflict or this refugee crisis, everyone must decide if they can rebuild their lives in a place that was never meant to be permanent.

Underscoring the timeliness of the film, the Washington, DC debut coincides with World Refugee Day which is on June 20th. The Syrian conflict has displaced over 10 million people according to the United Nations.


The film tells the moving, personal, and inspiring stories of Syrian refugees and aid workers at the largest refugee camp for Syrians, the Zaatari Refugee Camp which is home to 80,000 people and is now considered the fourth largest city in Jordan. Over half of the camp’s population is under 18 years old and over 5,000 babies have been born in the camp since it opened in July 2012.


Filmmakers’ Statement:

“Our goal was to put a human face to the Syrian refugee crisis.  Although many news crews have visited Zaatari we had the opportunity to spend months at the camp, uncovering stories never seen before.  We believe our film can offer the unique perspective of humanitarians in the field and the Syrians themselves whose voices are so rarely heard.”

Filmmakers’ Bios:

Steph Ching, Director/Producer, was Associate Producer and Additional Editor on the Emmy Nominated documentary, Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon. Other passions include volunteer work, she participated in relief efforts during post-hurricane Katrina and made several trips to Sichuan, China to film testimonies with survivors of the 2008 earthquake.  Her grandmother was a refugee in China before finally making her way to the United States.

Ellen Martinez, Director/Producer, was Associate Producer on Tested, a feature documentary about educational inequality in the NYC public school system. She was Directors Assistant and has worked in the A.D. and Production Departments for various films in NYC. Ellen has spent over 8 years in the Middle East and lived in Damascus, Syria for four years.



“I remember seeing the original footage Steph and Ellen had shot, and being so impressed with their work, and thinking we had to figure out a way to get them back into Zaatari to complete the project. They found a way to tell the story of the camp, to provide some context for the families’ stories in a beautiful, real and unobtrusive way that is particularly moving and urgent.” – Jon Stewart, Executive Producer


Public Screenings of After Spring at AFI Docs

Thursday, June 23 at 1:30 PM
at Landmark’s E Street Cinema – Washington, DC

Friday, June 24 at 4:15 PM
at AFI Silver Theatre & Cultural Center – Silver Spring, MD

(Source: Press materials provided by  Adam Segal / The 2050 Publicity Group)