Khan at the International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression, London, in 2017
|Occupation||Film director |
Founder & CEO of Fuuse
|Known for||Banaz a Love Story|
White Right: Meeting The Enemy
Deeyah Khan (Urdu: دیا خان, pronounced [di:j^ kʰɑːn], born 7 August 1977) is a Norwegian British documentary film director and human rights activist of Punjabi/Pashtun descent. Deeyah is a two-time Emmy Award winner and the recipient of two BAFTA nominations. She has made four documentaries to date, all have been shown on ITV in the UK as part of its Exposure series.
Her second documentary, Jihad: A Story of the Others, nominated for a BAFTA, Grierson and Monte-Carlo Television Festival involved two years interviewing Islamic extremists and convicted terrorists. Her 2017 documentary White Right: Meeting The Enemy was also Bafta-nominated and won an Emmy award for Best International Current Affairs Documentary in 2018— this film saw Deeyah travel to the United States where she shadowed neo-Nazis at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.
She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of sister-hood Magazine which spotlights the diverse voices of women of Muslim heritage.
In 2016 Khan became the inaugural UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Artistic Freedom and Creativity.
Birth and ancestry
Khan was born at Ullevål University Hospital in Oslo, Norway to Sunni Muslim parents, her mother being Afghan and her father being Pakistani. Her brother is Adil Khan, a screen and theater actor.
Music training and early career
Khan started her career as a music artist, a singer and stage performer in the public eye in Norway from the age of 7. At first she was a singer and performer of traditional South Asian classical and folk music, then became a composer and producer of world music. Khan's father was a music enthusiast and in 1984 placed his seven-year-old daughter under the supervision of Ustad Bade Fateh Ali Khan. Deeyah studied Pakistani and North Indian classical forms of music under him.
At the age of eight, Deeyah made her first performance on national television appearing on the primetime show Halv Sju, then performed at festivals. Deeyah was also the member of NRK girls choir as well receiving some music lessons with African American soprano Anne Brown. She also spent several years receiving further musical training from Ustad Sultan Khan.
Because music is considered to be a dishonourable profession for women in many Muslim communities Khan faced severe abuse and death threats for several years in Norway. Initially the harassment and condemnation were directed towards her parents: "I remember my dad having to defend the fact that I was doing music, even as a child. I remember this at eight, nine years old where ... various people come to the house and say, 'We don't even let our sons do it, why would you let your daughter do this?'".
Despite the increased pressure and threats of violence Khan's family continued to support her. After being attacked on stage at her own concert and sustained intimidation, she subsequently moved to London at the age of 17 to live and work.
She continued to compose and produce music. She recorded her last CD Ataraxis as a vocalist in 2006 which featured jazz pianist Bob James, Police guitarist Andy Summers and Norwegian trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær. Khan has continued to work in the music industry as a music producer including creating platforms for musicians and artists who are persecuted or discriminated against for their creative expression.
|1992||I alt slags lys||Album|
|1995||"Get Off My Back"||Single|
|1995||"Color of My Dreams"||Single|
|2005||"Plan of My Own" /
"I Saw You"
|Single||UK peak: #37|
|2010||Listen to the Banned||Compilation album||It features banned, persecuted and imprisoned artists from Africa, The Middle East and Asia. As well as receiving critical acclaim the album peaked at number 6 on the World Music Charts Europe and spent months on these charts. Amnesty International in the UK is supporting Listen to the Banned by making the album available through their website end of 2010.|
|2012||Nordic Woman||Compilation album||It features female artists of traditional Nordic music forms from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. The first release from Deeyah's WOMAN music album series. Produced by Deeyah.|
|2013||Echoes of Indus||Compilation album||CD features Pakistani sitarist Ashraf Sharif Khan Poonchwala|
|2013||Iranian Woman||Compilation album||It features Iranian female artists|
Deeyah made her directorial debut with the documentary Banaz A Love Story. The film received its UK premiere at the Raindance Film Festival in London September 2012. This was Deeyah's first film as a director and producer. It has won critical acclaim and international awards, including the 2013 Emmy award for best international documentary film. The film is being used to train British police about honor killings.
|2012||Banaz a Love Story||Director and Producer||Won a Peabody Award (2013). Won Emmy Award for "Best International Documentary" Film (2013). Won Bergen International Film Festival award for "Best Norwegian Documentary" (2013). Royal Television Society nomination for Best "Current Affairs" Documentary.||Documentary|
|2015||Jihad: A Story of the Others||Director and Producer||Won New York International Independent Film and Video Festival award as "Best Short Documentary". Received Arts Council Norway "Human Rights Award" for the documentary Jihad . Nomination for Grierson Awards . Nomination for British Academy Film Awards in Best "Current Affairs" Documentary . Nomination for the 56th Golden Nymph Award in "Current Affair's Documentary" at Monte-Carlo Television Festival. Nomination for Creative Diversity Network Awards in "Best Current Affairs Program" category .||Documentary|
|2016||Islam's Non-Believers||Director and Producer||Nomination for Asian Media Awards in the "Best Investigation" category for 2017.||Documentary|
|2017||White Right: Meeting The Enemy||Director and Producer||Won Emmy Award in the "Current Affairs" category . Won Royal Television Society in "Director: Documentary/Factual & Non Drama" category . Won Rory Peck Award for "Current Affairs" category . Won PeaceJam "Special Jury" award . Won WFTV Awards in "The BBC News and Factual Award" category .Won APA Film Festival Best Short Film Award category. Won Asian Media Awards for "Best investigation" category . Won Jury award at the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival .Nomination for 2018 British Academy Film Awards in "Best Current Affairs" Documentary . Nomination for Frontline Club Awards in "Broadcasting" category .||Documentary|
Deeyah is founder and CEO of Fuuse which is a multi platform independent media company based in Oslo and London. Started in 2010 Fuuse is a production company that tells the stories of marginalized people particularly highlighting the voices of women, people from minorities and third culture kids. Fuuse creates documentary films and produces an online magazine which promotes the diverse voices of women of Muslim heritage called sister-hood and the company produces live events and conferences in the intersection of art and activism
Views and activism
Deeyah is an outspoken activist for human rights, freedom of expression, peace and equality. Deeyah actively addresses women’s rights. Deeyah has written opinion pieces for publications including The Guardian, Huffington Post, The Mirror, The Times, ITV and VG. Khan is a strong critic of far-right politics and campaigns extensively against racism and anti-immigration policies. She is also known for challenging the growing radicalization and extremism within Muslim communities. Deeyah conceived of and founded Sister-hood in 2007, whose aim is to provide an outlet of artistic expression for young aspiring Muslim female artists in different disciplines. Sister-hood was relaunched in 2016 as a global online magazine and live events platform promoting the voices of women of Muslim heritage.
Khan founded Memini in early 2011, a global digital initiative to promote remembrance of victims of honour killings worldwide. Memini was given a True Honour award by UK charity Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation along with several other UK campaigners.
In February 2012, Khan founded Honour Based Violence Awareness network with Joanne Payton of Cardiff University (HBVA), a digital resource centre working to advance understanding and awareness of Honour Killings and Honour Based Violence through research, training and information.
In 2016, Deeyah delivered a TED talk titled: "What We Don’t Know About Europe’s Muslim Kids and Why We Should Care". She shares her experiences of being the child of an Afghan mother and Pakistani father raised in Norway, stuck between her family's community and her country. In her emotional talk she unearths the rejection and isolation felt by many Muslim kids growing up in the West — and the deadly consequences of not embracing youth before extremist groups do.
Awards, nominations, honors
- 1996: Received an Honor Award from the Scheiblers legat [no] for being a cultural bridge, creating understanding and tolerance through her musical and artistic contributions.
- 2009: Recipient, with Cont Mhlanga and Belarus Free Theatre, of the international Freedom to Create Prize.
- 2012: Given the Ossietzky Award, Norwegian PEN´s prize for outstanding achievements within the field of freedom of expression.
- 2013: Shortlisted for the Liberty Human Rights Arts Award.
- 2015: Awarded Plan Jentepris (given each 11 October, the International Day of the Girl Child) by its Norwegian branch.
- 2015: Named a Young Global Leader in the field of the arts.
- 2015: Named a Ford Foundation Visiting Fellow for the program, The Art Of Change.
- 2015: Received the University of Oslo’s Human Rights Award for championing women's rights and freedom of expression through her art and activism.
- 2016: Given Gunnar Sønsteby Prize. The award had been established in the memory of Gunnar Sønsteby and to honour persons and organisations which courageously defend the fundamental values of democracy and help ensure the freedom and independence of Norway.
- 2016: Received the Peer Gynt Prize (given to people and institutions who have highlighted Norway internationally).
- 2016: Received a Telenor Culture Award for artistic achievements which touch on some of the most important themes of the present, including women`s rights, freedom of expression, and fundamental values.
- 2016: Appointed Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO for artistic freedom and creativity, making her both the first Scandinavian to have been so appointed and the first goodwill ambassador for artistic freedom and creativity.
- 2017: Appointed a member of the governing body of Arts Council Norway, to sit from 2018 through 2021.
- 2018: Received an honorary doctorate from Emerson College for her achievements as a documentary film-maker.
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