Sarasota Film Festival Screening of SEPIDEH and panel discussion with Dr. Abuelaish about the education of women.
April 9, 2014
“Educate to Empower – SEPIDEH”
Enriching programs focused in “Educate to Empower” and the importance to enhance women’s education took place at the Sarasota Opera House on Wednesday, April 9, 2014. These edifying events were organized by the SFF Education Department in partnership with Daughters for Life Foundation, and New College of Florida.
The special guest for the night was Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, 3-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and founder of Daughters for Life. This organization has the mission “to advance the education and health of girls and women in the Middle East” and the vision “o create a peaceful world throughout the power of education.”
Daughters for Life Foundation, New College of Florida, and members of the Sarasota community last year signed the agreement “Educate for Change.” This initiative has the purpose to provide scholarships to Daughters for Life students from the Middle East to study for four years at New College.
When I arrived to the Sarasota Opera House, I had the privilege to meet Dr. Abuelaish who was preparing to present his book “I Shall Not Hate,” which it hardcover also shows: “A Gaza Doctor’s Journey On The Road To Peace And Human Dignity.” Attendees were exciting to purchase this bestseller book, meet the author, and to see the film. Later on for the Book signing, Dr. Abuelaish and his staff greeted the people, and the readers received a personalized attention.
Red Carpet and Reception
At the entrance of the Sarasota Opera House was displayed the red carpet. Among the members of the SFF, VIP and guests were present: the Honorable Judge Charles Williams/Circuit Court Judge and his wife Jackie Woods, Felice Schulaner/President Board of Directors of New College of Florida Foundation, Tom Hall/SFF Director, Mark Famiglio/President of the SFF, and Charlie Ann Syprett/SFF Development Coordinator. The red carpet was followed by the VIP Reception that brought together members of major organizations like the New College of Florida and its President Dr. Donald O’Shea, and other important guests. Immediately after the Reception was the presentation of a video and the film.
Welcome Program and Remarks
The Welcome was given by M. Famiglio, and words by Greg Campbell from Pier 22 and by F. Schulaner from New College. Following to these remarks, it was the introduction of the Video “I Shall Not Hate” by Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, who expressed that his main goal is to “Educate the Women to Change the World,” which has a personal meaning for him.
Video “I Shall Not Hate”
The video described the life of Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish who was raised in a Gaza refugee camp. Dr. Abuelaish has become a prominent physician and activist for peace in the Middle East. His wife Nadia died from leukemia in 2009, and four months later Dr. Abuelaish confronted another calamity. An unexpected tragedy happened that same year, when he lost his three daughters of 14, 15, and 20 years old when an errant tank shelled his apartment in Gaza. Dr. Abuelaish expressed: “I will never forget my daughters I will never give up.”
Instead of hate or revenge on this devastation, Dr. Abuelaish wrote the bestselling book, “I Shall Not Hate.” Also in memory of his daughters he founded the “Daughters for Life,” an organization devoted in helping higher education of Middle Eastern women regardless of their nationality, ethnicity or religion.
In this video “I Shall Not Hate” was showed the following famous quotes:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish said in one of his interviews: “When female values are better represented through leadership at all levels of society, life will improve throughout the Middle East. That’s the legacy I want to honor my daughters.”
The specific objective of Dr. Abuelaish is that the education of women in the Middle East will bring a new generation of leaders. Abuelaish emphasizes that educated women can stop violence and abusiveness in the world.
SEPIDEH- Educate to Empower Documentary
The film “SEPIDEH” is about the story of an Iranian young girl in high school who seeks for obtaining a higher education in a society that doesn’t support women to become professionals and improve their condition of life. Sepideh in despite of her financial limitations, cultural barriers and norms, emotional and family struggles, she is decided to make her dreams come true of becoming an astronaut.
SEPIDEH is a smart and determined teenager who can be an inspiration to other young girls and women to reach their goals doesn’t matter the circumstances they are coping with. Education is the key to empower women, and as Dr. Abuelaish “The world is ours through education.” A healthy and educated woman will raise healthy and educated children.”
This wonderful movie SEPIDEH was written, produced and directed by Berit Madsen. It is featured at the “Educate to Empower Benefit Supporting Women’s Education” by the SFF. The runtime of this documentary was 88 minutes.
Description of the Movie by the Sarasota Film Festival website
Genre: Documentary, Foreign, Women’s Interest, Coming Of Age, Education
Release Year: 2013
Runtime: 88 minutes
Production Country: Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Iran
Original Language: Persian with English Subtitles
Director: Berit Madsen
Executive Producer: Carsten Holst, Steen Risom
Produced By: Stefan Frost, Henrik Underbjerg
Co-Producer: Katayoon Shahabi, Antje Boehmert & Christian Popp, Lars B. Løge, Jonas Kellagher
Cinematography: Mohammad Reza Jahanpanah
Editing By: Peter Winther
Music By: Niklas Schak, Tin Soheili
Panel of Discussion
After the film, it was an interesting interview section done by the Honorable Judge Williams to Dr. Abuelaish. The topics were based on the book “I Shall Not Hate,” the film, the initiative “Educate for Change” and “What does this mean for Sarasota.”
Dr. Abuelaish pointed out the significance of overcoming tragedies, being confident, creative, and to have faith. He reinforced the importance of women in getting educated and be empowered. Among his thoughtful messages: “Women are the main pillar.” “It is the engine for change in our world.” Dr. Abuelaish also expressed that happiness is not how much you have, if how much you share and motivate others.
This informative panel discussion closed with gratitude words from Hon. Judge Williams to Dr. Abuelaish, on behalf of SFF and the Sarasota community.
Sarasota Film Festival
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Sarasota Film Festival
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