IAWRT’s Velvet Revolution screens at NGO CSW in New York

By Sheila Dallas-Katzman

I enjoyed watching the movie and thought it provided a vivid depiction of the challenges that journalists face while reporting in an unstable and post-conflict region

Christabel Unobe

The captioned statement above, speaks volumes for the general feedback of what people were saying after the screening and panel discussion at NGO CSW in New York.

NGO CSW – Committee on the Status of Women, NY (or NGO CSW/NY) is a convener of global civil society for the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women or CSW, and for global gender equality advocacy. On May 16, 2023, the NGO CSW organized a live screening of IAWRT’s acclaimed film Velvet Revolution at the UN Church Center in New York.  Ninety people attended in person. The projection was followed by a virtual panel of experts, directly or indirectly involved in producing the documentary. The discussion was not only about the production of the film but also about the concept of these IAWRT feature documentaries.  

It was the NGO CSW’s premier face-to-face event after three years because of COVID-19 and was designed primarily for attendance by NGOs in the United States.

Six IAWRT women filmmakers from various nations worked together to create this honorable video. In a globe characterized by violence and authoritarian governments, these filmmakers “point their lens to women who provide information,” as NGO CSW put it. Through this documentary, women whose stories would not have otherwise been heard on a global scale may be seen and heard. Velvet Revolution did that with its numerous international screenings at many international film festivals. This question was posed by NGO CSW: “When journalists are constantly under threat, what drives these women to do their jobs?” Our IAWRT virtual international panelists convened to answer the question.

Nupur Basu, Velvet Revolution Executive Producer spoke about how she stitched the six different pieces together to execute the central theme. This format eliminates the carbon footprints that would include trekking from one continent or country to another to shoot. The way IAWRT produced this allowed local producers to tell their local stories. Our other panelists were: Olivia Tumanjong, journalist, Cameroon; Lady Ann Salem, journalist, Philippines; and Najiba Ayuubi, journalist exiled in the US from Afghanistan during the US abrupt withdrawal from that country.  IAWRT USA president Sheila Dallas-Katzman moderated.

Most of the audience was previously unfamiliar with the stories reflected in the documentary. IAWRT was one of perhaps only two major journalist organizations at NGO CSW. This film made the negative reaction of certain governments very clear.

This was a memorable occasion for those who attended, and it raised the profile and prestige of IAWRT in the context of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Thanks to Pamela Morgan for bringing the documentary to NGO CSW.