GRANT RECIPIENTS: AFIA SERENA NATHANIEL
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"Ordinary people have extraordinary stories to tell", says Afia Serena Nathaniel, an indpendepent filmmaker recently graduated from the MFA film programme at Columbia University.

Trained as a computer scientist originally, she gave up writing software code to writing TV ads for an advertising agency, Publicis, in Pakistan, where she headed the copy department and developed campaigns for TV, radio and newspapers. Later, Afia worked for the World YWCA, an international women's non-profit, in Switzerland, and developed communications strategy and marketing material for the organisation's first endowment campaign.

In 2001, Afia landed in New York ready to take the most important step in her journey - filmmaking. Afia draws her inspiration from many artists and filmmakers, especially, the "3 Ks" in her life: Kurosawa, Kubrick and Kieslowski.

The poet-writer-scientist-copywriter-activist, is Pakistan's first independent female filmmaker from a minority background. She has 9 years working experience in film and TV production in Pakistan and the US.

Afia has won several awards for her films and scripts, including the Ezra Litwak Distinction in Screenwriting, the IFP Market Best Screenplay award and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association award. She has also been the recipient of several merit awards: Dean's Fellowship at Columbia, James Wolfensohn Fellow (MMMF-World Bank), AAUW International Fellow, World Studio Fellow and Women's International Leadership (WIL) Fellow.

Afia is deeply interested in the use of media as a platform for advocating issues involving women and children in marginalised communities. She currently serves as a global Board member for the World YWCA.

She has garnered several merit awards: Dean's Fellowship at Columbia, an MMMF (World Bank) scholar, AAUW International Fellow, World Studio Fellow and Women's International Leadership (WIL) Fellow.

Afia wants to bridge the cinematic divide between Pakistan and the rest of the world. "Cinema is more than just an art form it represents a society's conscience as well. There is a great need in Pakistan to wake up from our ignorance of the arts and embrace cinema as a means of social change. If we won't tell our stories to the world, no one else is going to do it for us.", she says.

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