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UN Honors Filmmaker Nassery Cole at Women Together Awards Tonight, 6/5

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Award-winning filmmaker, actress and Afghan-American activist Sonia Nassery Cole, whose current film continues to gain attention, was recently chosen to receive an honor at the 2012 Women Together Awards. Held at the United Nations in New York City, Sonia will be awarded tonight, June 5, 2012 for her heroic humanitarian work on behalf of the Afghan people through the Afghanistan World Foundation. The Women Together Awards are given every year to exceptional women in their fields, specifically to those working in pursuit of human rights and against discrimination and poverty. Past recipients include Hillary Clinton, H.M. Queen Rania of Jordan, Queen Sofia of Spain, Angelina Jolie, Shakira, Antonio Banderas along with Nobel Peace Prize winners Muhammad Yunus, Wangari Maathai, and Shirin Ebadi.

After escaping to the U.S. following the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Sonia wrote a letter to the White House in the early 1980s in an effort to aid the people of her homeland. Eventually, President Reagan invited her to visit him at the White House and helped her organize several successful fundraisers. Since then, Ms. Cole created the Afghanistan World Foundation, which supports the economic and social development of her homeland by providing schools, hospitals, emergency health services amongst many other philanthropic initiatives.

Sonia soon took on new challenges. Being asked to serve on the Board of the Afghanistan Relief Committee under Chairperson Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Member of the U.S House of Representatives Charlie Wilson, the organization asked her to assemble a major fund raising event to help draw interest to the desperate circumstances of millions of Afghan refugees fleeing their homeland. With nowhere to go, the refugees were forced to live in squalid border camps. Sonia set to work and obtained the backing of then Vice President George H.W. Bush, who agreed to serve as an Honorary Chairman of her first fundraising event, A Night for Afghanistan that was presented in Phoenix, Arizona in early 1987. A great success, it was followed by a series of similar galas in major cities including The Ambassador’s Ball held at the New York Plaza Hotel in 1989 which was hosted by Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) and Dr. Henry Kissinger and a 1992 event held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles where President Reagan was presented with the Freedom Award.

In addition to the ongoing work of the Afghanistan World Foundation, Ms. Cole recently debuted her feature film Black Tulip, which was shot entirely on location in Afghanistan. Based on true events, Black Tulip is a journey of tragedy, struggle and hope that encompasses the current plight of the Afghan people. The film was Afghanistan's official submission to the 2011 Academy Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film Award. Two songs from the film were also in contention for the Best Original Song at the Oscars. Black Tulip is scheduled to be released theatrically on October 15, 2012 through SnagFilms.

Though the film has yet to officially release, it is already collecting praise and accolades. Winning four top honors at the Beverly Hills Film Festival, the Best Feature Film Award at the Boston International Film Festival, the Best Feature Film award at the Salento Film Festival, and in competition at the Monaco Film Festival on May 15, 2012.

Black Tulip tells the story of the Mansouri family. After the Taliban is routed from Afghanistan in early 2001, the family seizes the new window of freedom by opening a restaurant called "The Poet's Corner," where artists and poets are welcome to express themselves on a small stage. This newfound hope proves to be fleeting as lingering factions of the Taliban threaten to silence them. Conceding to the Taliban's demands goes wholly against their beliefs and for what they've fought for. Having come a long way from refuge and expatriation overseas, giving up now is not an option for this Afghan family, in much the same way Ms. Cole herself has never stopped fighting for the freedom of her people.

For more information on Ms. Cole, visit www.afghanistanworldfoundation.org and www.breadwinnerfilms.com.


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