Tuesday, January 29, 2008


We have an expected completion date from the manufacturer - February 6th! At which time we will be receiving the DVD packages and shipping them out to customers ASAP. The manufacturing has taken a few weeks longer than regular DVD sets because the packaging is quite unique (and we are especially excited about the Collector's Edition package!) Many thanks for your patience...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Los Angeles: the city of dreams

We are headed to California for a screening (and better weather!)

Claremont University has invited us for a screening of the film AN ISLAMIC CONSCIENCE!

Feb 9, 2008 – 3:00PM - Claremont, CA
**Organized & Hosted by the School of Religion at Claremont Graduate University and Claremont School of Theology**
Open to the public; tickets: $10 per
Order tickets by emailing: agakhanfilm@gmail.com
*There are limited seats available. (less than 300 available)*
Ticket organization by Claremont University; ticket fee goes to Claremont University to cover their costs.
Mudd Theater at Claremont School of Theology
1325 College Ave, Claremont, CA 91711

Join our Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=11840510249

Sunday, January 13, 2008

London Premiere!

It's Official! Shamir pointing to the big film poster for the London premiere after the event! He still can't believe it all happened!

Dr. Asani (left) passionately detailing the broader context of the film.

One of the very rare photos of camera-shy Jane Chablani, co-Director of the film.

When you are a filmmaker, you hope you just engage with 1 person. At the screenings on Sunday, it felt we had engaged with many more than that. It was such a great turnout and it seemed everything went smoothly. The film was followed with a panel discussion on religious pluralism both times and we got some wonderful questions from the audience. Above are some of the pictures from the event. Trevor Hall CBE was the moderator and the first panel included Dr. Ali Asani, Jane Chablani (co-director), Raficq Abdulla, and I. The panel after the second screening substituted Dr. Abdou Filali-Ansary for Raficq, with the rest of the members the same. (The substitute

It was so nice to bring back the film to London and to see many of those who were there at the conception stage attend. I also feel optimistic that there is a place for "good" films. There is many in broadcast who like to cover edge and negativity in Islam but it is not representative of the truth of this religion. In the documentary-making world, we use words like "fair" and "balanced" - this surely must apply to what broadcasters play and the impressions they give to their audiences.

Nevertheless, the screenings should go on. I think the film distribution now needs to move to the next stage where people who believe in the cause, champion the film and host screenings such as at universities... The messages need to get out!

Thank you to those that worked behind the scenes to pull it off and thank you to those who attended.

Trevor Hall CBE (Moderator) was the former Race Equality Adviser to the Home Office's Permanent Secretary of State as well as a member of the Department of Constitutional Affairs Management Board serving as a non executive director. He was the founding chair of THE NETWORK for the Black and Ethnic Minority staff in the Home Office, vice chairman of the Ethnic Minorities Advisory Committee, Judicial Studies Board and chairman of the Commonwealth Youth Exchange Council. In addition, he has also contributed to development of race and diversity training for the police. Trevor’s current posts include principal equality and diversity consultant to TMP Worldwide, managing director at Ridleyhall Consultancy as well as executive vice-chair of the Windsor Fellowship. In 1997 he was awarded the OBE for his services to race relations. On retiring in 2002 as a senior civil servant, he was awarded the CBE.

Dr Abdou Filali-Ansary is Director of the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations at Aga Khan University. He previously served as founding director of the King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Islamic Studies and Human Sciences in Casablanca, Morocco and as secretary-general of the Mohammed V University in Rabat. He has contributed to the academic discourse on Islam and modernity and on democratisation and civil society in the Middle East and has written books and articles on Islam's reformist traditions, including Is Islam Hostile to Secularism?; Reforming Islam? An Introduction to Contemporary Debates as well as a translation into French of Ali Abdel-Raziq's landmark book Islam and the Foundations of Political Power. In 1993 he co-founded the bilingual Arabic-French journal Prologues: revue maghr├ębine du livre and served as its editor until 2005.

Shamir Allibhai is the producer for the documentary An Islamic Conscience: the Aga Khan and the Ismailis. In 2005, he co-founded and was the commercial director of the Channel 4 British Documentary Film Foundation. Shamir was also instrumental in launching BRITDOC, the U.K.’s first documentary feature film festival in July 2006 in Oxford. Shamir is currently a candidate for a Master’s of Theological Studies in Islamic Studies in 2009 from Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University.

Dr Ali Asani is currently Professor of the Practice of Indo-Muslim Languages and Culture at Harvard University. After completing his high school education in Kenya, he attended Harvard College, with a concentration in the Comparative Study of Religion, graduating summa cum laude in 1977. He continued his graduate work at Harvard in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, receiving his Ph.D. in 1984. Professor Asani holds a joint appointment between NELC and the study of Religion. He also serves on the faculty of the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies.

Jane Chablani is a Director of the documentary An Islamic Conscience: The Aga Khan and the Ismailis. Before this film, she directed the 90 minute feature documentary Stealing Klimt. A 60 minute version of this film was aired on the BBC in 2007. Jane has worked with the likes of National Geographic and Discovery Channel.

Raficq Abdulla MBE is a barrister, as well as a writer, public speaker, and a broadcaster. He was formerly the University Secretary and legal adviser to Kingston University, where he presently serves as Visiting Fellow. His publications include Words of Paradise, a new collection of interpretations of the poetry of Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273) and a new interpretation of The Conference of the Birds by Farid al-Din Attar (1142-1220). Over the past 15 years, Raficq has written and presented a large number of programmes on Islam for BBC World Service radio, including The Four Caliphs and a series on the life of The Prophet Muhammad. He has written screenplays for Channel 4, including the award-winning films Blood of Hussein. In 1999, he was awarded an MBE for his interfaith work among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. In November 2007, he gave the second lecture in the ‘Contemporary Islams and Muslims' series: Rumi to Adonis: The Conference of the Bards at the Institute of Ismaili Studies. This will be published by the Institute of Ismaili Studies in 2008.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


The film is back in the country where it started, the UK! And though I landed in a down pour, it felt good to be back in London.

1 day to go to the screening. It was sold out in just 4 days on Thursday!

This is just a quick update, lots of odds and ends still to do.

Update tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Numbers Are In!!!

No, we are not talking about New Hampshire....

The Aga Khan: a Voice of Reason documentary shown on VisionTV this past weekend did really really well!

The documentary had the HIGHEST audience figures out of any of the other documentaries in the Inspirational Leaders Series. Also for a one-off documentary, the ratings were well-above the average.

Friday and Saturday prime times: average audience size 30,000 per showing (sub-total: 60,000)
Friday midnight: 23, 000
Total average: 83,000 households tuned in.

Maybe 2 or 3 people watched the documentary together in a household (Shamir's estimates): 150,000 - 250,000 watched the documentary! WOW! Considering Canada's relatively small population size and you needed cable to access the channel, this is FANTASTIC!!!

Thank you to all those who spread the word!

Monday, January 7, 2008

European Premiere - January 13

Taking the film back to where it got started: London, UK.

It will be nice to come back to London and have a screening with the friends, supporters, and colleagues who were part of the project.

See you soon!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

We Did It!

Thank you, you know who you are. All those who joined us on the journey. Those who spread the word. Those who brought home their friends and colleagues for the TV premiere. Thank you.

I have got many emails / phone calls / texts - your words are much appreciated.

Lots of love,

Friday, January 4, 2008

Hours to go....

With just hours to go and we are at the point of no return, I thought I would reflect a bit on the journey of how we got here.

Virtually everyone I spoke to about this film at the idea stage said it was a great idea and it needed to be done. But they were skeptical. They were skeptical that Western broadcasters were more interested in showing documentaries that show violence and terrorism in the Muslim world. And they were skeptical that the Secretariat of the Aga Khan would never participate as they are not known for being open and engaging. There is a reason this is the first documentary of its kind and it is NOT because this is a novel ideal.

We were caught between a rock and a hard place with no funding and no access. What I saw next in the journey was amazing and moving. One that I will never forget. People put aside their skepticism and they did what they believed was right, often guided by the ethics of their faith. They replaced fear with hope, negativity with optimism. They believed.

They believed in standing up. Standing strong. And standing united. Together, they believed, we can overcome barriers and challenges. For the so many of you around the world - I thank you. We did this together. Islam is not a monolith but a mosaic and this is a side of Islam that needed to be told. In the history of Islam, there has been many silenced voices - we did not want to be one of them.

Making documentaries is not about getting everyone to agree with everything you say in the documentary or leaving everyone feeling happy. That is the job of a corporate video. A film is about informing, sparking thought and encouraging discussion. It is based on the premise of dialogue - a fundamental ethic in my faith of Islam, and many other religions. Through dialogue and discussion, goes the belief, we can spotlight the important issues of our time, rise to the challenge, and hopefully move people into action rather than passivity.

Look at Nobel prize winner Al Gore and his An Inconvenient Truth - a documentary about the environment crisis we face today. Many people love the film but not everyone. Yet this film has provoked thought, discussion and dialogue. This film is one of the main catalysts for the enlightening of people's and government's consciousness as to the dire state and the looming crisis facing our generation and generations to come.

I leave off with words that really hit home last night when I watched the victory speech by US Presidential-hopeful Barack Obama:

"We always knew that hope is not blind optimism. It's not ignoring the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path.

"It's not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it."

Full speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqoFwZUp5vc&feature=user

Thursday, January 3, 2008


We would like to announce our EUROPEAN PREMIERE in LONDON on January 13, 2008! There will be a screening at 6pm (semi-closed) and 8:30pm (open to the public) at a cinema in Central London. Tickets = £10.
Tickets will be allocated starting at 12 noon this Sunday January 6th, 2008 and the location will be revealed at that time too. Go to the website to get your tickets:

New Trailer

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


For immediate release Dec. 28, 2007

The battle for “enlightened” Islam

New VisionTV documentary looks at the life and work of the Aga Khan

**Part of network’s Inspirational Leaders Week**

Born into a world of wealth and privilege, he devotes his life to eliminating poverty and inequality. A religious leader who traces his ancestry back to the Prophet Muhammad, he struggles to balance the traditional with the modern.

His Highness the Aga Khan is the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims, a Shi’ite sect with 15 million followers around the world. At a time when Islam is at odds with itself and with the West, the Aga Khan represents a voice of moderation, speaking out for pluralism and diversity, and promoting dialogue between civilizations.

But will he be heard?

On Friday, Jan. 4 at 9 p.m. and midnight ET/6 p.m. and 9 p.m. PT, VisionTV presents the Canadian television premiere of The Aga Khan: A Voice of Reason, an hour-long exclusive documentary profile of this remarkable figure, who this year has celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ascension. The program repeats on Saturday, Jan. 5 at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

The Aga Khan: A Voice of Reason airs as part of VisionTV’s Inspirational Leaders event (Dec. 31 to Jan. 5), a week-long series of documentaries and feature films celebrating spiritual greats whose words and actions have changed the world. For more information on the week’s programming, please visit www.visiontv.ca.

The Ismailis are a people without a homeland. An oft-persecuted minority within Islam, they are scattered across more than 30 countries. The program shows how many Ismailis came to Canada when they were forced out of Uganda by Idi Amin.

It was the current Aga Khan’s grandfather, Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan, who created the Ismaili community as we know it today. Though a reputation for high living often overshadowed his achievements, he encouraged Ismailis to build modern institutions, promoted the education of women, and built a network of charities, schools and hospitals in the developing world.

In his will, he named his 20-year-old grandson, Prince Karim, as his successor, believing that Ismailis needed a leader who had grown up in the modern world – an Imam for “the atomic age.”

The Aga Khan: A Voice of Reason reveals how this shy and studious young man became one of the world’s most respected faith leaders, tending to the spiritual lives of his followers while also operating one of the most important aid organizations in the world: the Aga Khan Development Foundation, which employs 70,000 people and invests more than $400 million in development aid every year.

For the Aga Khan, social improvement, pluralism and intellectual advancement are integral aspects of the Islamic faith but his message is being drowned out by the rise of militant fundamentalist Islam. He struggles to act as a force for moderation, and to establish bridges between Islam and the West. But it remains to be seen if this battle can be won.

The Aga Khan: A Voice of Reason is a Canada-UK production. The film features a rare interview with the Aga Khan, along with seldom-seen archival footage and expert commentary from religious scholars, political leaders and prominent Ismailis, including Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer, Canada’s first Muslim Member of Parliament and Liberal Senator Mobina Jaffer (no relation), Canada’s first Muslim Senator.

The documentary was written and produced by multiple Emmy-award winning Bill Cran with Shamir Allibhai (Producer) and Jane Chablani (Director). The Executive Producers are Andrea Nemtin, Clive Syddhall and Bill Nemtin. Joan Jenkinson is the Executive Producer for VisionTV.

For information on the Aga Khan Development Network, please visit www.akdn.org

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Media Contact:

David Todd, Media Relations Manager
Phone: 416-368-3194, ext. 207
Email: dtodd@s-vox.com