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Shabeena's Quest

The Markaz

Friday, February 1, 2013 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM (PST)

Shabeena's Quest

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Suggested Donations $10/$5 for Students Ended Free  

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14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai became a worldwide cause célèbre for her activism on behalf of girls' education when in October 2012, she was shot in the head and neck in a Taliban assassination attempt. Malala survived the attack and has become an international symbol of freedom. Her case is only the tip of the iceberg, however, because in other parts of Pakistan getting an education is still an act of defiance. Director Hemal Trivedi will present her short documentary, Shabeena's Quest, and talk about Shabeena, a remarkable school principal, and her quest to bring education to the children, particularly the young girls, living in the shadow of the Taliban, in Pakistan's Islamabad region.

This Director's Screening is presented by Developments in Literacy, a nonprofit that builds and operates schools and develops innovative solutions for quality education. It is cosponsored by the Levantine Cultural Center, Muslims for Progressive ValuesCODEPINK: Women for Peace, and GlobalGirl Media. There is a suggested donation of $10 and light snacks are included. Seating is limited and RSVPs are strongly advised: 323.413.2001.


Despite age-old traditions that keep girls out of school and send them into arranged marriages, Shabeena's school actively recruits them. Afshan, a bright young girl who comes from a family of six daughters, is one of her great success stories. Living on the meager wages of a night security guard, her family is committed to each of them attending school. Another girl, Zarina, comes from similar circumstances but has had to fight to stay in school and resist her family's plan to marry her off at the age of 14.

The film follows Shabeena at work. We see young girls and boys in their classrooms, discussing Pakistan and its future; we hear villagers tussling with different views about education for girls; we see Shabeena recruiting for new students, persuading reluctant parents of the long-term benefits of educating girls.

And, over the course of a year, we see how Afshan and Zarina, as well as Shabeena herself, each strive to realise their dreams.

Born and raised in an inner-city chawl (ghetto) of Mumbai, India, Hemal spent her formative years striving to climb the social ladder. She did several odd jobs ranging from working as a concierge in Mumbai's five-star hotels to a lab technician in a microbiology lab. With the help of a state scholarship Hemal entered one of India's most prestigious business schools in India (NMIMS). She worked as an Index Fund manager for India's largest mutual fund for three years until she discovered her passion for documentary films. She soon moved to United States to get an MFA in documentary films from the Documentary Institute (University of Florida). Hemal now lives with her husband and her son near New York City. She has over eight years of extensive experience of producing and editing documentary films and she has won several awards for her work.

Her filmography whether as director, producer and/or editor includes Outlawed in Pakistan; Shabeena's Quest; Saving Face; Beyond Mumbai; When the Drum is Beating; Flying on One Engine; Laughter; Faith Under FireHaiti: Six Months After the Earthquake; Voices of Sudan: the New Country is Born; Politics of Hunger. Visit her site, Manjusha Films.

Developments in Literacy builds and operates schools and develops innovative solutions for quality education. With its successful models for teacher training, curriculum enhancement, vocational training, and technology integration, DIL provides high quality education to the most marginalized children and youth. This empowers them with the critical thinking and problem solving skills they need to redefine their future and that of their communities. Wherever DIL provides value added education, girls and women are able to transform their lives, often replacing child marriages with leadership roles in homes, villages and the work place. Supported by the Pakistani diaspora, DIL was established in 1997 to address poor access to quality education in Pakistan's underdeveloped areas. Beginning with a handful of schools and students, today DIL works across Pakistan in 179 schools, educating over 17,000 students, of which 68% are girls. The organization employs over 800 teachers, almost all of whom are women. DIL's robust teacher training program benefitted more than 30,000 children in 2011 alone. Visit dil.org. Youtube Channel: SupportDIL

Have questions about Shabeena's Quest? Contact The Markaz

When & Where

The Levantine Cultural Center
5998 West Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90035

Friday, February 1, 2013 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM (PST)

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The Markaz

The Markaz champions a greater understanding of the Middle East and North Africa by presenting artistic and educational programs that bridge political and religious divides. In a search for common ground, the Markaz fosters discussions among artists and thinkers and offers classes and workshops that serve diverse ethnic communities.

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