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2018 International Woman of Courage
March 27, 2018 @ 8:00 am - 9:00 am
2018 International Women of Courage Recipient
Roya Sadat is a creative thinker who refuses to be silenced in the face of threats from conservative elements within Afghan society. Using cinema and television as platforms for advocacy, she is promoting positive change by telling the untold stories of Afghan women and girls.
Throughout her career, Sadat has faced enormous risks and has overcome tremendous cultural, bureaucratic, and monetary barriers. Born in Herat in 1981, Sadat always dreamed of being a filmmaker. But when the Taliban came to power, her dreams were nearly crushed as music, movies, television, and theater were banned. Yet Sadat organized secret theater classes in hospitals, refusing to give up her passion.
At age 20, Sadat directed her first feature, Three Dots, which she secretly wrote during the Taliban era. The film centers on a young widow who is pressured to marry an in-law. Sadat took major risks to shoot the film in a rural village; at one point, she was chased away at gunpoint by villagers angry at her use of uncovered women actresses. Despite these and other challenges, she completed the film, which received international acclaim.
In 2003, Sadat founded Roya Film House to tell compelling stories about Afghanistan. In more than 30 documentaries, films, and television shows, Sadat has not shied away from depicting the brutal injustices of life for Afghan women. And in 2013, she founded the Afghanistan International Women’s Film Festival to promote women filmmakers and the empowerment of Afghan women through art.
Sadat’s most recent work, A Letter to the President, tells the story of a strong-willed woman who is sentenced to death after accidentally killing her abusive husband. In the process of examining Afghanistan’s culture through cinema, Sadat is doing her part to make her country a better place for women and girls.