A recent graduate from Northwestern University in Qatar has been nominated for a Student Academy Award. Shahnawaz Zali’s film, 100 Steps, is among the 26 US nominees selected from more than 500 applicants to be nominated for an Oscar.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences established the Student Academy Awards in 1972 to support and encourage excellence in filmmaking at the collegiate level. The awards are open exclusively to college and university film students who compete for awards and cash grants, with films being judged in four categories: Animation, Documentary, Narrative, and Alternative.
The film is set in Pakistan and follows a young boy who finds that his local religious school has been a front for a radical extremists recruitment camp. It has won a Miami independent film festival, a Moving Media film festival in Detroit, and an excellence award at the Accolade Global Film Festival.
“I came to NU-Q because I was so sure about the potential for the Pakistani media industry to tell their own stories. We’re used to seeing Pakistan in a certain light and I wanted to show the world that there’s more,” Zali said.
The film was produced with a grant from Studio 20Q, an NU-Q student run organization that provides students with hands-on filmmaking experience and help in creating a thriving film culture in Qatar. Zali completed the post-production of the film when he was spending a semester at the Northwestern’s main campus in Evanston, Illinois.
A Class of 2016 communications major, Zali is now establishing a production company in Lahore, Pakistan and plans to continue to tell stories about his country and its people through film.
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