Short Film Competition 2021
Empower Women Media and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation honor women who artfully and compellingly explore through short films the impact of freedom of religion and belief (FoRB) in their workplaces and communities. 2021 finalists hailed from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, France, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Iraq, Egypt, and the U.S. Below are the thrilling 2021 results. Also see 2018, 2019, and 2020 results. (MEDIA: Press Release & Contacts)
She Makes Everything Beautiful by Wagma Feroz (Pakistan) was awarded the grand prize in the 2021 Religious Freedom Film Competition. A Taste of Freedom by Meshair Jirdeh (Saudi Arabia and France) and Terri Marie (US) took 1st runner-up, and Switch On, an animated short film by Yamini Ravindran (Sri Lanka), was awarded 2nd runner-up. The grand prize winner receives a $3,500 cash prize, 1st runner-up $1,000, and 2nd runner-up $500.
In addition to the top three films, A Call to Lead by Machiko Sato (Japan) won the Presidential Global Challenge Film Award. Two other films won Inclusivity Awards: Pathways to Peace by Sana Zahid (Pakistan) and Camp C414 by Aasra Mansour and Mohammed Abd Alamir (Iraq).
She Makes Everything Beautiful
by Wagma Feroz (Pakistan)
In “She Makes Everything Beautiful,” Wagma, a Muslim, tells the true story of Sonia, a Christian, who has found employment and acceptance in a multi-faith salon in Swat, Pakistan. The Muslim owner of the salon intentionally hires religious minority women knowing they are discriminated against and often cannot find work. This thriving salon dares to overcome cultural and religious divides to make all things beautiful.
A Taste of Freedom
1st Runner Up
by Meshair Jirdeh (Saudi Arabia and France) and Terri Marie (US)
A Taste of Freedom is Meshair Jirdeh’s personal story of leaving Saudi Arabia to find religious freedom in a new land. On her journey, she meets the love of her life, a chef, and together they build a restaurant business.
2nd Runner Up
by Yamini Ravindran (Sri Lanka)
Switch On, an animated film by Yamini Ravindran and her team at the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka, features a Muslim woman hesitant to “switch on” her computer camera during an online meeting because she wears a hijab. Capitalizing on the social constructs of the all-too-familiar Zoom meeting, the film exposes the ramifications of restrictions on religious expression in the workplace.
A Call to Lead
Presidential Global Challenge Award
by Machiko Sato (Japan)
In A Call to Lead, a Japanese woman challenges her beautiful and prosperous country to become a global leader in advocating for religious freedom inside and outside of Japan.
Pathways to Peace
by Sana Zahid (Pakistan)
“A Real-Life Tale of a Religious Freedom Supporter”. Pathways to Peace is a story of an advocate, who is also working as a social activist and wants to build a peaceful society by promoting religious freedom.
by Aasra Mansour and Mohammed Abd Alamir (Iraq)
Camp C414 is a film about a displaced family living in a refugee camp in Baghdad who struggles to develop their business and integrate into their host community because of their religious background. C414 is the number of the shipping container the family actually lived in as refugees.
Honorable Mentions: Asha (Hope) by Arpudhamani (India), We Are One by Jennifer Pinto (India), Drawing the Soul of a Woman by Carla Salloum (Lebanon), We by Ahmar & Mariam Rehman (Pakistan), Women Ablaze by Alicia Crum (US), Change Begins with Us by Nivedita Devraj (India), Afghanistan Fire Fighter Ladies by Lina Qurbanzadz (Afghanistan), and Treasure in Jars of Clay by Abisha Manoj Kumar (India).
This is the fourth annual short film competition sponsored by Empower Women Media and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. Results are based on independent assessments of highly respected judges from around the world who review the films for storytelling and advocacy impact (see Press Release). For more information, email Shirin Taber, Director of Empower Women Media.
The first competition was held at the start of the 2018 Paralympic Games in Korea where Love Has No Borders by Deborah Paul and Christy Anastas took grand prize. In 2019, the grand prize went to A Different Way, a film by Ambassador ’Sujay’ Suzan Johnson Cook and Lauren Merkley. The 2020 Grand Prize winners were Long Road to Freedom by Mariya Dostzadah Goodbrake (Afghanistan and US) and District 18 by Maral Karee (Iran and Canada).