Please join us for a screening of the documentary film I Came to Testify, followed by a discussion with filmmaker and media executive Pamela Hogan, filmmaker Kirsten Johnson, Chief of Cabinet and Spokesperson for the High-Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Nihal Saad, and film producer and President of the Post-Conflict Research Center Velma Šarić. The discussion will be moderated by Tanya Domi (SIPA/Harriman Institute).
Run Time: 60 Minutes
When the Balkans exploded into war in the 1990s, reports that tens of thousands of women were being systematically raped as a tactic of ethnic cleansing captured the international spotlight. I Came to Testify is the moving story of how a group of 16 women who had been imprisoned by Serb-led forces in the Bosnian town of Foca broke history’s great silence – and stepped forward to take the witness stand in an international court of law. Now, as Bosnia is once again in the headlines with the capture of Bosnian Serb wartime general Ratko Mladic, the women agree to speak for the first time since then, on condition that we keep their identities hidden for their protection. “Witness 99,” who was held at gunpoint for a month with dozens of other women in a sports hall in the center of town remembers: “We were treated like animals. But that was the goal: to kill a woman’s dignity.” Their remarkable courage resulted in a triumphant verdict that led to new international laws about sexual violence in war. Returning to Bosnia 16 years after the end of the conflict, I Came to Testify also explores the chasm between this seismic legal shift and the post-war justice experienced by most of Bosnia’s women war survivors. Narrated by Matt Damon.
Pamela Hogan is an Emmy award-winning filmmaker and media executive. Her film Looks Like Laury Sounds Like Laury - about the mother of two young children confronting a neurological breakdown – was named one of "The Best TV Shows of 2015" by The New York Times. She was Co-creator, with Abigail Disney and Gini Reticker, of the series Women, War & Peace and directed one episode, I Came to Testify, about the Bosnian women who changed international law by testifying about wartime rape for the first time in history. Previously, Pamela was Executive Producer of PBS's acclaimed series Wide Angle where she worked closely with global filmmakers on 70 programs spotlighting under-reported international stories. Her speaking engagements include the White House, the U.S. Institute of Peace, Capitol Hill, the Asia Society, the U.N., the Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard and UC Berkeley Law Schools. A Board Member of the International Center for Transitional Justice and honoree of the National Council for Research on Women's Making a Difference for Women campaign, she has been an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism for the past five years. She is currently making a documentary about the women of Iceland.
Kirsten Johnson is an award-winning New York-based documentary filmmaker and cinematographer. She is a faculty member at New York University. She graduated from Brown University in 1987, with a BA in Fine Arts and Literature. After two years in West Africa working on local fiction and documentary film projects, she attended the French National Film School (FEMIS) in Paris. Her film credits include Derrida (2002), a documentary on French philosopher Jacques Derrida, the documentary Darfur Now (2006), and Pray the Devil Back to Hell (2008) which won the Tribeca Film Festival Best Documentary.
Nihal Saad is Chief of Cabinet & Spokesperson for the High-Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC). Prior to that she was the Spokesperson for the President of the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly. As Chief of Cabinet for the High Representative of UANOC, Ms. Saad led UNAOC task force team in organizing UNAOC 6th and 7th Global Forums in Bali in 2014, and Baku in 2016. With more than twenty two years of experience in Journalism, Ms. Saad was the Head of the Press & Information Bureau at the Permanent Mission of Egypt to the UN. Before moving to New York, she was Senior Political Correspondent and TV host for Egypt’s TV. She holds a Masters degree in TV Journalism from the American University in Cairo and a Diploma in Linguistics from Ain Shams University in Cairo. She has moderated several panel discussions in international and regional meetings. Ms. Saad has appeared on several TV shows as a commentator on International affairs, with Larry King (CNN), Al Arabyia TV, France 24, Egypt’s TV and other media outlets.
Velma Šarić is a researcher, journalist, peacebuilding expert and human rights defender from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition to her position as Founder and President of the Post-Conflict Research Center, she is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Balkan Diskurs, and Project Manager of the War Art Reporting and Memory (WARM) Foundation, Sarajevo Branch. As a researcher and producer she has worked on numerous publications and films about the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, including Uspomene 677, In the Land of Blood and Honey by Angelina Jolie, and I Came to Testify and War Redefined from the PBS series Women, War & Peace. Velma has held fellowships at both Columbia University in New York and the Robert Bosch Foundation. As part of her fellowship with the Robert Bosch Foundation, she attended the Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability Fellowship Program. In 2014 Ms. Šarić and the Post-Conflict Research Center were awarded the Intercultural Innovation Award by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the BMW Group.