December 11 2013 Latest news:
by Sara Odeen-Isbister , Senior Reporter
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
A film-maker has won a top global award for her documentary about the first Afghan woman to study at Oxford University.
Victoria Musguin, 23, of Westrow Drive, Barking, won the New Horizon short film award at the 8th Aljazeera International Documentary Film Festival.
The category, which is open to students or those new to film-making, receives thousands of entries every year from across the world.
Victoria’s film, A Different Face, is about Shahrazad Akbar, a young woman from Afghanistan who defied the Taliban to get an education and became the first Afghan woman to study at Oxford University.
Speaking to the Post, Victoria said she first read about Shahrazad’s inspirational story in a national newspaper two years ago.
“I was in my last year of a TV production degree at Bournemouth University at the time and thought that she would be a great subject for my final project,” she said.
“I contacted her on Facebook and at first she wasn’t so keen as she’d been bombarded by journalists who wanted to talk to her and wanted to be left alone, but after we talked on the phone and then met up we built up a friendship and she agreed to take part.”
Victoria initially planned to travel to Afghanistan and film Shahrazad with her family in Kabul, but Bournemouth University advised her against making the trip.
“They thought it would be too dangerous, so I didn’t go.
“Instead, I saved up for a camera and Shahrazad took it with her on a visit home and filmed herself and her family as they went about their lives.
“Education for women is still not accepted by many in Afghanistan, so I was worried that this could put them at risk, but they were keen to be part of the film and the results were fantastic.”
The former Barking Abbey pupil said the film project has opened her eyes to a country she knew little about.
“Many of my perceptions of Afghanistan were shaped by what I’d seen on the news, but through Shahrazad and her family I’ve learned to see the country and its people in a very different light – it’s been a fascinating journey.”
Victoria admits winning the Aljazeera documentary award was a shock.
“I didn’t expect it at all, but it’s very exciting.”
n Different Face is short-listed in the short film category at the 2012 East London Film Festival and will be screened in July.