Director / Screenwriter
Pakistani-American filmmaker, Afia, loves pushing the boundaries of narrative storytelling. Her debut feature film Dukhtar (Daughter) premiered at Toronto (2014) becoming Pakistan’s Official Submission for Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards®. The film played to critical acclaim in over 20 countries to rave reviews and became the Critics’ Pick (Village Voice) and the People Magazine’s Pick of the Week. The film has won several awards including Adrienne Shelly award for Directors, Audience Award at Creteil, Best World Feature at Sonoma, Best Director + Best Feature Film at SAIFF. Afia has been featured in the Variety, NYT, Indiewire, NPR, Huffington Post and Screen Daily. Variety says, “Nathaniel proves her mettle in a national industry where distaff directors are rare” with Indiewire labeling Dukhtar as “groundbreaking”, New York Times calling it “exquisite” and LA Times billing it as a “gorgeous, suspenseful cinematic achievement”. Afia was nominated for a Gotham award (2013) and the Women Film Critics Circle award (2015) for the “Best Foreign Film by or About Women”. Afia’s screenplay for Dukhtar has been invited to the Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences as part of their Permanent Core Collection. Through her films, Afia explores pressing social justice issues of our times which a critic lauded as “a stunning, emotive work that takes to task oppressive patriarchy”. Her award-winning short films premiered at Rotterdam, Montreal Film Festival and the Anthology Film Archives in New York and several other venues. In Pakistan, Afia - a mathematician and computer scientist by training - turned to advertising to fulfill her love for storytelling. In 1997, she joined Publicis Pakistan as an intern and within a few months headed their Creative Department. She developed major TV, radio and print campaigns for clients like L’Oreal, HP, Volvo and Nestle. This gave her the bug to chart her own path as a filmmaker. In 2006, Afia graduated from Columbia University with an MFA in Film Directing (Dean’s Fellow). She is an alumnus of IFP, TFI, Film Independent and Berlin Talent Project Market. She has received support from HBO, Netflix, National Geographic, Tribeca Film Institute, Cinereach, Women in Film, New York Foundation for the Arts, International Film Festival Rotterdam, SORFOND (Films from the South), The Caucus Foundation, NYSCA + Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Afia shares her love for telling stories with her students. She teaches directing and screenwriting at Temple University. Previously, she taught at Princeton University (Peter B. Lewis Fellow), Columbia University’s Graduate Film Division and NYU’s Tisch. She is also a generous mentor to other filmmakers through IFP’s Narrative Labs. When Afia is not teaching or cooking, she is working on her new sci-fi feature. She is also busy adapting the novel _Watched _for TV. The show, set in a post 9/11 New York city, looks at the lives of young Muslims whose families and communities have been torn apart by surveillance. She will also be developing a limited series for TV - a crime thriller. Afia is repped by Echo Lake Entertainment.