A FILMMAKER’S EXPERIENCE OF ATTENDING CANNES

Jose Angel Manaiza Jr
5 min readJul 13, 2023

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Nighat Shah

A Filmmaker’s Experience of Attending Cannes

An Interview with Nighat Shah, Filmmaker, Impact Investor, Philanthropist, Producer, Humanitarian, and TEDx Speaker

Producer of the upcoming social justice narrative film, Gunjal

Gunjal

Website: https://adurproductions.com/

1) You are the producer of the upcoming movie, “Gunjal” about child labor, what was your unique experience of attending Cannes in France amongst so many others who are sharing inspiring and deeply moving stories?

As the producer of “Gunjal,” a film highlighting the issue of child labor, attending Cannes amongst so many inspiring storytellers was an incredible experience. It was humbling to be surrounded by people sharing their deeply moving stories and using the power of cinema to bring awareness to important social issues. The energy and passion in Cannes were palpable, and it reinforced the significance of our work. While the first few days were a bit overwhelming, it was delightful to eventually take a leisurely 20-minute walk to the festival each day, soaking in the vibrant atmosphere.

2) What was your favorite part of attending Cannes? What stays with you the most today?

One of the things I loved the most about being at Cannes was the incredible energy and passion that permeated the entire program. It was a hub of creativity and inspiration! It was wonderful to meet some truly amazing individuals and engage in captivating conversations.

Cannes is more than just a festival; it’s an experience that embraces the human spirit. The city itself had a warm and welcoming vibe that added to the overall charm. It’s an unforgettable journey I cherish.

3) What did you want to take away from attending Cannes before the launch of your own movie?

Attending Cannes was an invaluable experience that allowed me to learn from incredible filmmakers, industry experts, and fellow film enthusiasts. It was a platform for sharing diverse perspectives and experiences.

As an indie filmmaker, I recognized the challenges of raising awareness through visual media, especially in comparison to big-budget studio films. Cannes appeared to be fueled by these high-profile productions with substantial advertising budgets.

4) Following Cannes, you have been traveling to several parts of the world that include Switzerland, Palestine, and London, as a Philanthropist, is there anything you look for in ideas or values that you take back home with you and to your work? What inspires you the most during your travels?

Traveling to different places has truly transformed my perspective as a humanitarian. I love seeking ideas and values that align with my mission of making a positive impact. One of the standout experiences was exploring Switzerland, where I cherished the safety and serenity of walking to various destinations. Our tour guide shared how the Swiss people are committed to democracy, exemplified by their use of referendums and their decision to ban weapons due to gun violence concerns. It was eye-opening to witness their commitment to peace and security.

Another impactful trip was to Palestine, where we had the opportunity to meet friends and visit sacred sites. The people we encountered demonstrated remarkable hospitality, and it was evident that they yearned for peaceful coexistence. However, we also witnessed the ongoing fear and challenges faced by Palestinians living under the shadow of settlers. It became apparent that international intervention, particularly from the UN, is crucial for resolving this dispute and restoring peace to the region.

5) What guides you the most in your philanthropic ventures? What inspired you to look deeper into child labor around the US and the World?

In my humanitarian ventures, I am guided by the principles of kindness, humility, and equality, which have been instilled in me since a young age. Witnessing the harsh realities of child labor has ignited a deep passion within me to bring about change. During my upbringing, I observed children either attending school or working alongside their parents, which I believe can be a dignifying experience.

However, my awareness grew as I pursued higher education in the city and confronted the brutal truth of child labor. Witnessing young children working as domestic help exposed me to the hidden exploitation they endure. This eye-opening experience expanded my understanding of child labor, revealing that it exists not only in developing countries but also in more affluent societies.

Now it became evident that even in countries like the United States, there is a pressing need to strengthen laws and regulations protecting children from exploitation and ensuring their well-being.

Child labor is a global issue that requires our collective attention and action. It is crucial for the United States, as a developed nation, to lead by example and establish stronger measures to safeguard children’s rights. By strengthening the laws protecting child labor, we can create a safer and more equitable society for children, allowing them to grow, learn, and thrive without the burden of exploitative work.

6) Please share what inspired you the most to tell the true story of Iqbal Masih.

Iqbal Masih’s story is like a real-life hero’s journey, filled with courage, determination, survival, and inspiration. His incredible life and his fight against child labor truly inspire me. I had known of his legacy from my life in Pakistan, but when I learned the details of his story and his activism years later, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to tell his story through “Gunjal.” It’s a way for me to honor his memory and spread his powerful message to the world. Iqbal’s story reminds us all that we have the power to stand up against injustice and create a brighter future for children everywhere. It’s a privilege for me to bring his story to life and share it with audiences far and wide.

ABOUT THE FILMMAKER:

NIGHAT SHAH

FOUNDER OF ADUR PRODUCTIONS
Impact Investor, Philanthropist, Producer, Humanitarian, TEDx Speaker

Nighat Shah is an impact investor, philanthropist, and founder of Adur Productions. She is known for producing the award-winning short film “This Bank of the River,” which has received critical acclaim for its stark portrayal of suicide and mental health.

Nighat’s upcoming social justice narrative “Gunjal” (aka “Entangled”) is a powerful story that sheds light on child labor. As a producer, she has worked tirelessly to bring this important film to worldwide audiences.

Through her humanitarian projects, Nighat has focused on pressing social issues, including mental health, breast cancer, youth skill development, and women’s financial empowerment.

Nighat and her husband have subsidized education and healthcare projects in Pakistan, providing high-tech equipment to hospitals and schools and financing the building of a student hostel. She established “Chitral EXE,” a digital marketing and e-commerce instruction program for students, teaching them to leverage technology for social good. The program was a great success, providing valuable skills and opportunities for students in the region.

In addition to her film and philanthropic work, Nighat holds an M.S. in Business and Finance from the University of Memphis.

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Jose Angel Manaiza Jr

Known as The Tutor To The Stars from Malibu to Beverly Hills. Mr. Manaiza is knighted by the order of St John Russian Grand Priory (OSJ) in New York City.