Samar Minallah is an Anthropologist, documentary filmmaker, and human rights activist from Pakistan. The media has termed her as the 'Saviour of Souls', and 'The Crusader with the Camera'. She has produced a number of documentaries, documenting the Vanni and Swara traditions and films on cultural heritage of Pakistan. She has been using poetry, music and various forms of culture for advocacy around issues that are important and difficult.
Background and education
Awards and Honors
- Roberto Rossellini Award, Maori Film Festival, Italy. 2009 
- Chang Lin Tein Fellowship Award by the Asia Foundation in 2010.
- Perdita Huston Human Rights Activist Award' 2007, Perdita_Huston
- Civic Courage Award 2009 by the Center for Civic Education, Pakistan. 
Samar Minallah is the daughter of Nasr Minallah who was a senior civil servant and Bilqees Minallah a former MNA. Her siblings are Athar Minallah, Fauzia and Akmal. Her sister Fauzia is a distinguished cartoonist, and Athar played a prominent role in the restoration movement for Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudhry and was his spokesman.
Her Fight Against 'Swara' 'Vanni' or Compensation Marriages in Pakistan
'Swara' or 'Vanni' are marriages where girls, often minors, are given as compensation to an enemy family to end disputes, often murders. The murderer gets away with his crime and his daughter, sister or niece pay the price for his crime for the rest of their lives.
In 2003, Minallah made a documentary on the practice of 'Swara' where girls are given as compensation to end age old disputes, with the aim of raising the profile of the custom and to persuade policy makers to finally recognize the problem and act to eliminate it. The documentary was first of its kind that was dubbed in local regional languages to reach out at the grassroots level. She even spread awareness through traditional truck art in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa.
In 2004, following the documentary, the law was amended and according to PPC-310-A, whoever gives or takes a girl in compensation can receive 3 to 10 years imprisonment.
Samar filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court of Pakistan against the custom. As a result, the Supreme Court directed the Inspectors General of Police (IGPs) of the four provinces of Pakistan to stop marriages to settle family feuds, declaring the customs of Vanni and Swara un-Islamic.
Samar was awarded the "Perdita Houston Human Rights Activist Award" for her contribution in advocating change on this issue. The award was presented by well-renowned feminist and author Gloria Steinman.
Other works include ‘Bibi Shireenay: Where Honour Comes From’ and ‘Shinwaray Lawangeena: Where the Waters Meet’
Samar has also won a Unesco-sponsored regional documentary-making competition, addressing the issue of HIV and AIDS. Other countries participating were Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Samar was selected as one of the "Young Leaders of Asia" by Asia Society New York in 2007.
The filmmaker is also a recipient of the Unicef Child Rights Award 2005, which was presented to her for upholding the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in programming for and about the girl child in Pakistan.
Some of her recent documentaries are ‘Allaho: A Lullaby for You my Daughter!’ ‘Warawae-e-Lasoona: The Song of Unity,’ ‘The Missing Link,’'Da Bajaur Gooloona',‘The Hidden Colours of the Northwest Frontier Province,’'Land of a Thousand Colors' and ‘The Dark Side of Migration.
- "Swara: a bridge over troubled water". Film South Asia 2004.