Afghan film director Siddiq Barmak to receive UNESCO's Fellini medalParis – Afghan film director Siddiq Barmak will receive UNESCO’s Fellini Silver Medal on June 16th from Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, during the preview screening of his first feature film Osama. The film, a tribute to Afghan women, will be shown on the occasion of the first plenary session of the International Coordination Committee for the Safeguarding of Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage.
The ceremony will take place at UNESCO Headquarters in the presence of Sayed Makhdoum Raheen, Minister for Information and Culture of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan, Prince Mirwais Zahir and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg, a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, at 6.30 p.m. in Room XI.
Osama tells the story of an adolescent girl who disguises herself as a boy to escape the intolerable conditions inflicted on women by the Taliban regime. The first Afghan film ever presented at the Cannes Film Festival, it was selected for the Director’s Fortnight and received a special mention from the jury of the Caméra d’Or, which honours directorial debuts, as well as two other awards given in the context of the Festival, the Prix Cannes Junior and the Prix de l’Association Française des Cinémas d’Art et d’Essai (AFCAE).
Siddiq Barmak was born in Afghanistan in 1962. After finishing film school in Moscow in 1987, he returned to his country, where he directed short films and then headed the government agency in charge of cinema from 1992 to 1996. Forced to flee when the Taliban came to power, he returned after their fall to resume managing the Afghan Film Organization.
Siddiq Barmak is also director of the Afghan Children Education Movement (ACEM), an association that promotes literacy, culture and the arts, founded by Iranian film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, who has also received the Fellini Medal. ACEM is supported by UNESCO, which is providing funds to dozens of schools in Afghanistan for repairs, equipment and teacher training.
Previous winners of the UNESCO Fellini Medal include Clint Eastwood (USA), Abbas Kiarostami (Iran), Lester James Peries (Sri Lanka), Pierre Rissient (France) and Im Kwon-taek (Korean Republic).
Journalists wishing to attend the ceremony should request accreditation from the UNESCO Press Service, tel: 33 (0)1 45 68 17 47