Student film broadcast on Al Jazeera

April 26, 2016

A film directed by Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) student Syed Owais Ali was broadcast on Al Jazeera English’s WITNESSprogram on April 25th.

Pakistan: No Place Like Home,” follows the journey of a 29-year-old man who leaves his village in Pakistan to seek a new life in Dubai. It was initially created for the NU-Q student-run production company Studio 20Q. [Watch the film.]

Ali, a Pakistani who was raised in the United Arab Emirates, was curious to understand why so many Pakistanis left their homes, families, and communities to work in a foreign country. “It’s frustrating to see so many internationally-recognized publications tell the story of construction workers and laborers as a faceless group” he said. “None of them really asked why these individuals still choose to come to Dubai every year.”

“Syed represents what Northwestern University in Qatar is committed to providing – a quality education that enables young men and women in Qatar and the region to acquire the knowledge and skills to successfully tell stories that broaden the understanding of diverse cultures,” said Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO of Northwestern University in Qatar.
In addition to financial assistance, Studio 20Q provides student filmmakers with the opportunity to develop their stories into more compelling ones with the help of professional filmmakers who serve on the program’s board. “My advisor helped me see that I had access to stories that weren’t told in conventional media yet,” Ali said. “It was very encouraging.”  
“Studio20Q has been immensely successful in giving talented storytellers at NU-Q the resources they require to tell powerful, unique stories that notable film festivals around the world are responding to,” said Dennis.
Applicants must pass two rigorous selection rounds where they pitch their film and include details on budget, crew positions, production schedule, director’s vision and script. They then present their idea to a committee of students on the Studio 20Q Executive Board as well as three industry professionals.
Ali’s film has received awards from several film festivals, including the 10th Lahore University of Management Sciences International Film Festival, and nominated at the 43rd Athens International Video and Film Festival, as well as being recognized at the Windrider International Student Film Festival where he competed against films submitted by students from Stanford University and the University of California, Los Angeles, among others.
Ali’s film will be rebroadcast on Witness on April 26 at 6:30 a.m., on April 27 at 7:30 p.m., and April 28 at 8:30 a.m. View the film online.