UNDP and Republic of Sudan Screen Iman at United Nations Headquarters

Aug 29, 2017

The Regional Bureau for Arab States of the United Nations Development Programme and the Permanent Mission of Sudan to the United Nations today hosted a screening at United Nations Headquarters in New York of Iman: When Faith is at the Crossroads.

Held in the Trusteeship Council Chamber, the event brought together over 300 participants from Member State Missions, United Nations Agencies, and civil society.

Produced by UNDP Sudan in cooperation with the Sudan National Commission on Counter-Terrorism, Iman is a narrative film based on actual events, telling the story of four young Sudanese from different walks of life who encounter radicalism along their path to adulthood. The film was produced with generous financial support from the governments of Canada and Japan.

Speaking in front of an audience that included Permanent Representatives of five UN Member States, His Excellency Omer Dahab Mohammed, Permanent Representative of Sudan to the United Nations, said “the film is an artistically excellent work which gives us a glimpse of how it is not easy to overcome the issue of violent extremism but with courage of men and women and our partners of the United Nations on how we can decisively face such problem.”

Sophie de Caen, Deputy Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States, added that the film “is an important effort we have undertaken to share real stories of encounter with extremism. Real stories that can help stakeholders come together with a human and humane perspective on the challenge.”

Film production was undertaken by UNDP Sudan as part of the Partnering against Violent Extremism Programme, a broader effort to support the government of Sudan in efforts to prevent violent extremism by better understanding and addressing root causes. The stories portrayed in the film are based on facts gathered in a research effort undertaken in the scope of this project, which unearthed detailed findings and analysis based on nearly 400 interviews focused on personal motivations and drivers of radicalization in different regions of Sudan. The PAVE project is also carried out in cooperation with Sudan’s National Commission for Counter-Terrorism and supported by the Governments of Canada and Japan.

These efforts in Sudan are part of a significant global increase in UNDP programming designed to support our partners to better understand the root causes of violent extremism and seek to prevent it through more inclusive development and the expansion of choices available to young people to contribute to society and to build better futures for themselves. UNDP’s global approach to PVE also includes advocacy efforts to help promote dialogue on the divers of extremism and the most effective ways to reduce its incidence and impact.

The screening in New York followed the official launch of the film in May, 2017, in Khartoum, and is part of an effort to showcase the film and promote dialogue on the prevention of violent extremism across Sudan and around the world, by opening a window to the human experience of tragic pathways to extremism.

The film has been screened to audiences ranging from the diplomatic community to youth groups in Sudan, and has been requested to be used in trainings by universities and public authorities around the world. It will also be screened in several international film festivals.

According to film director Mia Bittar, the film is not only having an impact on the discussion of development priorities in Sudan, but indeed may contribute to a reemergence of cinema production across the country. “Film production in Sudan has slowed down over the years and a production of this size is particularly challenging,” she said. “This size of production hasn`t happened in Sudan for a very long time. It triggered excitement across the country that such productions are possible.”

Drawing on real events but including fictional elements, the production blurs the lines between documentary and narrative film. One professional actor is used in the film, along with several first-time screen actors drawn from local theatre groups. Sudanese band Aswat Al Madina, UNDP National Goodwill Ambassadors supplied music used in the movie, and also appear as actors in their on-screen debuts.

Iman: When Faith at the Crossroads is currently being screened at International Film Festivals. Follow Iman on social media at #WatchIman

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