This year, the UN Migration Agency, IOM, in Washington D.C. is partnering with NYU Washington, DC to host a screening of Bonjour Ji, an award-winning Canadian short film examining an interplay of (mis)perceptions and hurdles that are part of migrants’ daily experience around the world.
The film screening will be followed by a panel discussion to reflect on the role of storytelling and art as vehicles for passing on information on migration and migrants themselves. This conversation will include Laura Thompson, Deputy Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Ahmed Badr, IOM Youth Ambassador, Veyron Pax Iranian filmmaker and refugee, and Barbara Cupisti, documentary director.
The Film Festival is a partner of Plural+, the UN campaign TOGETHER and USA for IOM. Through this initiative, IOM and its partners aim at changing the negative perceptions and attitudes towards refugees and migrants.
Meet the Panel
Laura Thompson is the Deputy Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Prior to this position, Laura Thompson was the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva.
She is responsible for assisting the Director General in administering and managing the Organization; conducting the political dialogue and building IOM relationships with governments, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector; as well as in defining policies, strategies and prioritised action.
Previously, she also served at the Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva in a prior occasion and at the Delegation to UNESCO. In addition to her diplomatic experience, Laura has held posts as Legal Officer in two UN Organisations.
Laura Thompson obtained a Master’s degree in international relations, with a specialization in international law, from the Graduate Institute for International Studies of Geneva and holds a degree in law from the University of Costa Rica. She has also completed Executive Education at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and INSEAD. In addition to Spanish, which is her mother tongue, Laura Thompson is fluent in English, French and Greek, and has a basic knowledge of Italian and Portuguese.
When he was 8 years-old, Ahmed's home in Baghdad was bombed by militia troops. He and his family relocated to Syria as refugees for two and a half years before receiving approval to move to the United States. Ahmed founded Narratio, a platform for creative expression that seeks to alleviate childhood illiteracy by empowering youth through the publishing of poetry, photography, art and narrative. It publishes works of art from all over the globe, and hosts workshops centered around the power of storytelling and creativity. For his work with Narratio, Ahmed was recently selected as one of thirty Global Teen Leaders by the We Are Family Foundation. Ahmed is currently a college freshman at Wesleyan University, where he is a Fellow at the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life.
Veyron Pax is an Iranian Contemporary Artist, a filmmaker, photographer, digital artist- who identifies as a queer refugee resettled in the U.S as of December of 2014. Veyron abandoned his home in Iran in September of 2012 and sought asylum in Turkey. Veyron’s creative outlets are expressed through documentaries about immigrants and refugees, lgbti rights and human rights. His main mediums are abstraction, cubism, minimalism, and surreal. Veyron connects the reality and imagination in a visual platform, reflecting his essence "Peace, Love, Understanding"
Barbara Cupisti began her career as leading actress in Italian and French films and television serials. For twenty years, she worked with prominent directors, including Tinto Brass, Dario Argento, Norman Jewison, Paul Planchon, Antonio Pedro Vasconcelos, Jhon Lofve, Gabriele Salvatores, Michele Soavi and Carlo Verdone. In 2002, she appeared in her final film, the French production Total Kheops with Marie Trintignant and Richard Boheringer.
In 1998, Barbara made her debut as host on Italian state television (RAI) with a live-broadcast program Survival in prime time on Saturday night, featuring correspondents and guests around the world. Since then, she has continued to develop, produce, and host television programs for RAI as well as private broadcast networks, including launching a new music channel in Italy (Music Box), the TV series Love Chain (24 episodes) for Fox Life Italy, and serving on a commission for creative development within RAI.
In addition to her work in television, Barbara has emerged as one of the most gifted documentary film directors of her generation with her breakthrough film, Madri, (2007), which explored the reality of life in Israel and Palestine through a series of conversations with both Israeli and Palestinian mothers who have lost their children to conflict. Madri was in competition at the “Orizzonti” section of the Venice Film Festival in 2007 and was awarded the “David Donatello Prize” as the Best Italian Documentary Feature of 2008.
Since 2008, she has completed ten documentary films focused on human rights and social issues, many earning patronage from UNICEF, UNHCR, and Amnesty International and awards at international film festivals. Most notably, her film Fratelli Sorelle, filmed inside Italian prisons, won the Ilaria Alpi Prize in 2012, the nation’s most prestigious award for journalism. In 2016 her documentary Exiles/
The Wars has been awarded with a Nastro d’Argento Speciale, an Italian film award awarded each year since 1946 by the Sindacato Nazionale Giornalisti Cinematografici Italiani (Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists).The Nastro d'argento is the oldest movie award in Europe.
RAI TV regularly broadcast Barbara’s documentary films on its TV channels reaching millions of people.
In 2008, Barbara served on the international jury at the Venice Film Festival. In 2013 and 2014, she was a member of the Ilaria Alpi Prize jury.
Barbara is currently in postproduction of her latest documentary- movie Womanity filmed in India, Egypt and the United States.
Satinder Kassoana, Rup Magon, Surjit Pahwa
Set in Montreal, this is a story about the communication gap between different communities who live and work amongst each other every day. Despite being born in Montreal, Rup Singh, struggles not only with how he is perceived by others, but also with how he perceives them.
14 min., Canada, 2015