Creative Activism Awards

Photo by Victor Dragonetti

The Creative Activism Awards (CAA) were created by director iara lee as a way of recognizing artists, musicians, poets, writers, designers, dancers, and other creators whose work is connected to human rights, the environment, economic and global justice, and cultural resistance.

In the summer of 2020, lee announced a first round of CAA recipients, made up of people and organizations who have been featured in or have collaborated on documentaries by Cultures of Resistance Films. The awards were designed to encourage recipients to maintain and expand their important work in pursuit of social justice and creative expression.

Later in the year, lee announced that she would be giving out a second round of awards in 2021 and that applications would be open to the public. To apply, click here!

“We hope that the awards will provide critical help to artists and organizers struggling to continue their efforts to build solidarity and promote change in their communities,” says lee.

Previous CAA recipients have included muralists, dancers, cartoonists, photographers, rappers, cinematographers, plastics artists, poets, and designers. Past award winners are from countries ranging from Iran, Palestine, Pakistan, and Western Sahara to Malawi, Burkina Faso, Lesotho, and Bolivia.

Below is a list of CAA recipients in alphabetical order. Click on a recipient's name to learn more about their work. Click here to see videos featuring some of the CAA recipients. We will continue to update this list as future award recipients are named.

    Sibusiso Adontsi, also known as Sadon: Sadon, a rapper and spoken word artist from Lesotho, is using the award to buy educational equipment, such as a PA system, a projector, and a computer to set up a space for youth classes about mental liberation, poetic advocacy, and economic freedom.

    Moosta Ahmed: Ahmed is an Egyptian art student and photographer who contributes to Everyday Egypt, a platform that publishes street and documentary photography from Egypt.

    Nicholas Akbar: Akbar is an activist, musician, and arts organizer from Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia. Through his group Gazp, Akbar hosts activist film screenings and produces music videos and short films. He also organizes events and activities that aim to increase his community’s awareness of social justice issues. He holds classes for local children to study English, art, and computers. He is using the award to support his work organizing classes, as well as to support Gazp’s film events and productions.

    Al Caravan: Established in 2008, Magic Caravan is a mobile caravan that offers educational, entertainment, and cultural workshops for children, youth, and women. The workshops focus on the arts, theater, and music. Al Caravan is using the award for art and theater classes for kids and families in a refugee camp in northern Syria, close to Turkey.

    Al-Hal Fi Al-Fan, known as Salvation in Art: Salvation in Art is a group of young graffiti artists who make murals around Sudan to commemorate key events of the revolution, celebrate occasions such as International Women's Day and Human Rights Day, show solidarity with Black Lives Matter and other international movements, and spread health awareness about the Covid-19 pandemic. The group is using the award to buy art materials for a mural project.

    Ali Al Shehabi: Al Shehabi is a photographer from Bahrain. He began photography as a hobby using his mother's old analog cameras, but his everyday experimental photography eventually became his passion and he moved to Japan to study the medium. He now focuses on using photography as a means of artistic storytelling and aims to shed light on his Middle Eastern culture, creating portraits that juxtapose traditional Muslim dress with modern streetscapes. He is using the award to purchase a new film camera and to support his project "Middle East to the World."

    Amado Alfadni: Alfadni is an Egyptian-born Sudanese artist. His childhood was composed of two environments: the Cairene street and the Sudanese home. The relationship and tension between the two strongly influenced his view of both cultures, leading him to question the concepts of identity, ethnicity, and nationality. His artistic practice focuses on research and documenting ignored historical events. His work discusses the relationship between the included and the excluded, starting conversations about identity and politics. By working with forgotten historical events and current state policies, he raises questions of power dynamics between the individual and authority on a social and political level, giving voice to political minorities. He is using the award for his Askari project.

    Alia Ali: Ali (Arabic: عاليه علي) is a Yemeni-Bosnian-US multimedia artist who lived in and between seven countries and grew up among five languages. Her work incorporates photography, video, and installation. Her travels have led her to process the world through interactive experiences, and she believes that the damage of translation and interpretation of written language has not served particular communities, resulting in the threat of their exclusion, rather than a means of understanding. Ali's work reflects on the politics of contested notions of linguistics, identity, borders, universality, colonization, mental/physical confinement, and the inherent dualism that exists in each of them. She is using the award for a futuristic experiential video installation to explore and generate radical narratives of Yemeni selfhood. This project will evolve from personal narratives and sites of Yemeni cultural production through its diaspora.

    Art Melody: Art Melody is a Burkinabè rapper and farmer who has released seven albums, viewing his attachment to the land as fundamental to his musical perspective. He draws inspiration from his mother's roots, '70s Afro-soul music, and New York rappers such as Busta Rhymes and Wu Tang Clan. He is using the award to support his upcoming new album.

    Sylvia Arthur: Arthur is a writer and the founder of the Library of Africa and the African Diaspora (LOATAD), a decolonized library, archive, museum, and writing residency dedicated to the work of African and diaspora writers from the late-nineteenth century to the present day. Based in Accra, Ghana, Arthur began the library with her own collection of 1,300 books. LOATAD now holds about 4,000 books by, and ephemera from, writers from forty-one of Africa’s fifty-four countries, as well as work by Black authors from the Americas, the Caribbean, and Europe. LOATAD uses literature as a form of activism in two ways: The first is by producing, preserving, and disseminating knowledge derived from a literature that has been unrecognized, at best, and hidden, at worst. The second is by expanding and diversifying the meaning of literature and libraries from an elite institution into one for all people by incorporating traditional African methods of oral storytelling into the exclusive institution of the written and print library.

    Aslaf Band: Aslaf is a Sudan-based band focused on highlighting, preserving, and advancing Sudanese musical heritage. It is using the award for a music video project.

    Tammam Azzam: Azzam was born in Damascus, Syria. He started painting at 10 years old and went on to study fine arts at Damascus University, specializing in oil painting. He is using the award to support his solo show at Kornfield Gallery in Berlin.

    Miguel de Barros: de Barros is a Pan-African sociologist, investigator, and activist from Guinea Bissau. He is using the award to translate his book on environmental education, citizenship, and traditional cultures, to know to love, to love to protect - an experience of education for the environment and citizenship in Guinea-Bissau. He is also using the award for logistics and food support for artists who are making murals in Guinea Bissau honoring the heroes of independence through the project "Caminhos Urbanos."

    Berger Badere Bellegie: Bellegie is part of Okapi Team in Malawi. Founded in 2016 at Malawi’s Dzaleka refugee camp, Okapi Team is a group of young alumni of the camp who provide assistance to communities living in Dzaleka and its surrounding area. Okapi Team focuses on educating young women and men for a better future. Beyond giving them an opportunity to join education initiatives and start apprenticeships, Okapi provides them room to expand their talents. For example, the Okapi Dancing Crew performed at the Tumaini Festival in 2017, and was then invited to perform at big events in Malawi’s capital city, where it has become well known. Okapi Team is using the award to purchase a sound system.

    Camps Breakerz Crew: Camps Breakerz Crew is a breakdance crew in the Gaza Strip’s Nusirat refugee camp. The crew aims to represent peace and freedom for Palestine by dancing and hosting workshops and other events across the world. To give back to its community of Gaza, the group has hosted breakdancing shows and offered dance classes to local children since 2003. Camps Breakerz Crew is using the award to organize breakdancing cyphers in Gaza, starting in Nusairat Camp, to share their love of dancing and introduce more people to the art form.

    Irma Chávez Cruz: Chávez Cruz is an Indigenous Raramuri (Tarahumara) leader, activist, and teacher. She has a master's degree in human rights—the the first person from her community of Rejogachi, as well as one of the only Raramuri ever, to earn an advanced degree. She works to protect Raramuri land and rights against narco mafias that have killed their leaders, cut down their forests, and threatened her family. She founded a nonprofit organization that communicates directly with the Mexican government to defend Indigenous lands and rights. She is also leading a project to provide clean water, seed banks, and sustainable agriculture to schools and communities so they can continue living and thriving in their ancestral lands.

    Checkpoint 303: Using site recordings predominantly from Palestine and the Arab world, Checkpoint 303 constructs live soundscapes that weave cinematic audio with experimental sound processing and complex rhythms. Through its compositions, collected sounds, and noise, Checkpoint 303 spreads a message of peace and a call for respecting human rights. Contrasting with the mainstream media's exclusive depiction of violence and suffering in the Middle East, Checkpoint 303's sound collages report on the heroic hope that exists in the region, as well as the seemingly banal but ever so meaningful little things that embody a daily search for normality in a state of emergency. Checkpoint 303 is using the award to support its forthcoming EP, which celebrates the struggle of Black people and Palestinians, as well as the solidarity between the two movements, through electronic music, audio recycling, and collage.

    Children's Art Club: Children's Art Club is a group organized for children in Malawi's Dzaleka refugee camp, which houses about 40,000 refugees and asylum seekers—half of which are children—from countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, and Ethiopia. The questions behind the club's founding were: Is a refugee here just to cry, to beg, and not be skilled? No. Why do we only assist on the weaknesses of refugees (giving food, medication, etc.) and forget about their strengths, their activities, and their talents? The club's aims are educating children about the arts; improving and promoting their talent; letting them share skills and knowledge; preparing them to become educators and entertainers for other people; sharpening their knowledge and skills as actresses and actors of tomorrow; changing their difficult behaviors toward the community and families; involving unaccompanied minors in community service; building collaborations between separated children, orphans, and unaccompanied children with other people; developing self-reliance in children through the gift of the arts; promoting public speaking in children; helping them become tools of change in the community through the performing arts; and strengthening them as voices of the voiceless. The Children's Art Club is using the award to purchase art supplies.

    Patrick Chimbewa: Chimbewa is a musician from Ntchisi, Malawi, who performs using an instrument he makes himself called the nsansi, or thumb piano. He makes the instruments by hand and teaches others how to play the nsansi and the drums, as well as how to do traditional Malawian dances, such as the "gwanyasa," with his band and dance troupe. He is using the award to make more instruments.

    Dripz: Dripz, a graphic designer and conservation artist in Lesotho, is using the award to expand his art studio's recycling initiative to show more people why recycling resources is the best way to make a living and care for the environment.

    eL Seed: eL Seed uses a distinctive style of Arabic calligraphy to spread messages of peace and unity, as well as to underline the commonalities of human existence. His artwork aims to bring communities together and redress stereotypes. He is using the award to promote Tunisian craftwork, focusing on women who work with tapestries.

    Rehab Eldalil: Eldalil is documentary photographer and visual storyteller based in Egypt. She is using the award to develop a floral guidebook of the Sinai region, in collaboration with tribe elders from her Bedouin community. Her goal is to create an archive of the plants and herbs that have medicinal and hygienic benefits. The guide celebrates the traditional and modern Bedouin identity and is aimed at younger generations in the Bedouin community, teaching them how to use the land’s harvest.

    Food Not Bombs Sofia: Food Not Bombs Sofia is the Sofia, Bulgaria, branch of Food Not Bombs, the international movement for eco-social justice. It is a self-organized initiative for preparing and sharing vegan food and clothing with people in need. The group is using the award for kitchen expenses.

    Marco Aníbal Guatemal Anrango: Guatemal Anrango is a Kichwa activist, youth leader, and educator in Ecuador. He works to preserve Andean medicine and strengthen traditional farming methods, organic food production, and animal husbandry in his community. He is using the award to construct a comprehensive healing site (HAMPI WASI), where he will recover medicinal plants from the environment, according to the worldview of the Kichwa Nationality, for the Kayambi People, to which he belongs.

    Hourria wa Salam: Hourria wa Salam, also known as the Saharawi Freedom and Peace Association, is a volunteer-based project run by Saharawis in refugee camps in Algeria. The group organizes enrichment actives for school children, including sports and educational competitions, and provides support to the most vulnerable families in the community. It is using the award to provide care packages for families in Tindouf, Algeria.

    Aimé Césaire Ilboudo: Ilboudo is a reclaimed plastic artist from Burkina Faso who was featured in BURKINABÈ RISING: the art of resistance in Burkina Faso. He is part of AR-ECO-DE TILG-RE, an association of young volunteers from different socio-professional and cultural backgrounds. AR-ECO-DE TILG-REorganizes a cultural festival in Ouagadougou that works towards cultural, social, and humanitarian integration and aims to create and arouse interest in the protection of the environment in urban areas. The festival includes street art, mural art, workshops with resident artists, canvas creation and exhibitions, a large street parade with puppeteers and masks, and music. Ilboudo is using the award to support AR-ECO-DE TILG-RE.

    Jail Time Records: Jail Time Records is a non-profit music label that created a permanent recording studio inside Cameroon’s Central Prison of Douala—the first of its kind to exist in an African prison. It releases music by detainees and former detainees, aiming to improve social integration and alter society's perception of incarceration. The label is a collective of musicians, music producers, and filmmakers from both inside and outside the prison. The project aims to expand its mission to other prisons, both in Africa and internationally, and to make a fresh and original contribution to music. Jail Time Records is using the award to purchase recording studio equipment and musical instruments to build a recording studio outside of the prison. This will allow the collective to focus on social reintegration and keep working with formerly incarcerated artists once they have left prison.

    Khaled Jarrar: With photographs, videos, installations, films, and performances that are focused on his native Palestine, multidisciplinary artist Khaled Jarrar explores the impact of modern-day power struggles on ordinary citizens while seeking to maximize the social potential of artistic interventions. Over the last decade, Jarrar has used the subject of Palestine, particularly the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, as a starting point for larger investigations of militarized societies, including the gendered spaces of violence and the links between economic and state powers that fuel and profit from war or political conflict. He is using the award to make a film called "Displaced in Heaven," which follows a Syrian/Palestinian woman who immigrates from Nazareth in 1948 and ends up in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria.

    Neo Kabi: Kabi, who works on campaigns for LGBTQI+ rights in Lesotho, is using the award to increase awareness of LGBTQI issues and address mental health concerns among the queer community.

    Faraz Karachiwala: Karachiwala is a Pakistani artist, art curator, filmmaker and creative producer. His work has been recognized by prestigious platforms and film festivals both locally and internationally. He is using the award for a group art exhibition in Karachi, Pakistan.

    Mariyeh Mushtaq: Mushtaq is an independent researcher and women's rights activist who runs Kashmir Pop Art, a digital art project about Kashmiri people, places, history, and politics. The project advocates for the accessibility of digital art-making for women who create resistance and political art. All of the artwork from Kashmir Pop Art is made in MS Word. Mushtaq is using the award to support her work making art as a form of resistance activism, including purchasing a graphics tablet, a stylus, and a camera.

    Ayesha Kazim: Kazim is a freelance photographer whose work includes portraiture, documentary, and editorial. Growing up, she lived and studied in fourteen countries. This experience, in addition to her multicultural background as a British Nigerian-South African living abroad, motivates her to use photography as a mechanism for storytelling in an effort to unite different communities through art. Through image-making, she aims to portray people of color in positions of strength and power, while also evoking a sense of vulnerability. She is using the award to support her ongoing series, "This Home of Ours." The project serves to establish a contemporary time capsule of the Bo Kaap neighborhood’s rich history within Cape Town, South Africa. At a time when both an influx of foreign residents and the Covid-19 pandemic are endangering the livelihood of many residents, this series seeks to provide a platform of visibility that amplifies the voices of community members and chronicles their experiences for generations to come. She is also using the award to distribute resources to the Bo Kaap Cultural Hub and Bo Kaap Community Garden, two organizations she documented and worked with throughout the pandemic.

    Belal Khaled: Khaled is a Palestinian Arabic calligrapher who uses an unconventional way of writing Arabic characters to converse with the world through the aesthetics of the ancient letters. His focus on the alignment of letters and the unity of their placement gives Arabic writing harmony and agility. He has participated in individual and group exhibitions around the world and been featured in local and international news outlets. He is using the award for mural and art projects in Gaza and Somalia.

    Seif Kousmate: Kousmate is a self-taught photographer who was born in Morocco and works in Mauritania. He specializes in social issues and has developed a visual vocabulary that stands between documentary photography and the poetry of fine art photography. He is using the award to support his photo essay titled "Haratin: Born to Serve," which features portraits of former slaves in Mauritania.

    Marta Lamovsek: Lamovsek is a Slovenian-born, Dubai-based photographer, visual artist, and creative director. She works with photography, art direction, installation, film, and collage to celebrate human vulnerability and seeks to capture the exuberance of street life in the Emirates. Her portfolio includes more than seventy titles, including VICE UK, British Vogue, i-D Magazine, The Guardian UK, and Le Monde France. She is using the award to support the production of her project "Sovereign Rebellion," which will shine a light on change-makers, activists, and "noise makers" who stand for freedom of expression, truth, equality, and justice.

    Jafet Potenzo Lopes: Lopes is a naturalist and Timorese wildlife conservation and ocean photographer from the Com Timor Island. His work focuses on the terrestrial and oceans. He is using the award to undertake bird and dragonfly surveys in order to improve the knowledge of biodiversity, especially threatened bird species, in remote areas of Timor-Leste.

    Polen Ly: Ly is a Cambodian filmmaker whose narratives depict indigenous people struggling against commercial logging and hydropower dam construction. His films have won numerous awards and been selected to screen at both local and international film festivals. He is using the award to support his current projects: a short documentary called Cemetery of Green Souls, which won an honorable mention in the Tribeca Film Institute’s IF/Then Shorts Global Pitch competition, and his first featured documentary, The Tongue Of Water.

    Lynor Mahase and Kutlane Sehloho: Mahase and Sehloho are owners of Backyard@Lynors, an artist space in Masero, Lesotho. With the award, Mahase and Sehloho are sorting out running water, working on enhancing the kitchen, and renovating the yard at Backyard@Lynors. The award is also helping them acquire masks, sanitizer, and gloves.

    Humberto Mancilla: Mancilla is the director of Bolivia's PUKAÑAWI Center of Cultural Management, which houses the Human Rights Film Archives and organizes the International Festival of Human Rights Cinema. The archives aim to nurture the expression of cultural diversity through film and human rights education. The center provides visual education about human and Indigenous rights in Latin America to filmmakers and to the Bolivian public. PUKAÑAWI means "red eye" in the Quechua language and is an homage to the center's roots in supporting Indigenous cinema.

    Relebohile Mats’ela: Mats'ela lives in Lesotho and is using the award for a seed garden.

    Kaizer Matsumunyane: Matsumunyane is the owner of the creative space Cafe What? Lesotho in Maseru. He is using the award to renovate Cafe What?. This includes making the space more acoustic-friendly by purchasing sound acoustic panels and proper sound equipment for musical performances by local artists.

    Teboho Moekoa: Moekoa, the founder of Kemet Designs and Creatives in Lesotho, is using the award to support Kemet Designs, which specializes in the creation of genuine leather products, denim, and other suitable material for clothing and clothing accessories. Its products are a symbol of Afrikanism and ethnic consciousness, as well as uniqueness, style, and flair. Click here to see a video!

    Nthabiseng Mohanela (TeReo): TeReo, who created the “From Trash to Treasure” project and works with the Morija Arts Centre in Morija, Lesotho, is using the award to repair the center's car and purchase studio equipment to help with the organization's e-learning program. The award is also allowing the center to buy external hard drives and fix an old laptop, which helps maximize production and effectiveness while creating e-learning content. Additionally, the award is serving as compensation to partner artists who helped the organization produce a music video for the Lesotho Film Festival. Click here to see a video!

    About the award, Mohanela says: “Thank you for this encouragement and boost. Our biggest challenge is mobility. We currently have a car that is broken and needs a new battery, and this money will assist with that, as we all know public transport can be very risky during the pandemic.... It can also help with food and transportation for our collaborating artists that join us in the studio. We are adhering to Covid-19 precautions and this award means we will be able to procure sanitizer and masks for our collaborators during recording sessions.”

    Meshu Mokitimi: Mokitimi lives and works in Maseru, Lesotho. At 90 years old, he still spends each day in his studio dedicated to producing images that represent the culture of his country. He has been involved in politics in Lesotho and also travelled the world with his art, visiting Israel, India, Nepal, Italy, England, France, Nigeria, Brazil, the United States, and Ireland. In 1995, the National University awarded Mokitimi the Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Contribution to Basotho Culture and in 2006, His Majesty King Letsie III appointed him to Commander of the Most Loyal Order of Ramatšeatsana "in recognition to his outstanding contribution to the promotion of arts and culture in Lesotho."

    Reekelitsoe Molapo: Molapo, an entrepreneur, social activist, and student in Lesotho, is using the award to pursue personal projects and to benefit Conservation Music Lesotho, an organization she co-founded. Through the catalytic power of music, Conservation Music Lesotho confronts environmental breakdown and humanitarian disaster in the developing world and beyond.

    Siphiwe Nzima-Ntsekhe: Nzima-Ntsekhe is an activist in Lesotho who uses her poetry and songs to stimulate the masses. She is using the award to help fellow artists with digital performances and marketing. Click here to see a video!

    Akley Olton: Olton is a filmmaker from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a chain of islands in the Caribbean. His work explores Caribbean culture and the longing of diaspora communities to reconnect with home. He is using the award to film a series of interviews as part of “Hairouna, Land of the Blessed,” a feature documentary about a young man from the Caribbean who is on a journey into his ancestral knowledge.

    Omdurman Cultural Center: The Omdurman Cultural Center creates independent, uncensored theater for audiences in Sudan. It is using the award to produce the play "The Eagle Regains Its Wings," which raises questions about taboo issues like female genital mutilation and the use of child soldiers.

    OSLOOB: OSLOOB is a Palestinian rapper, producer, and beat-maker born in Lebanon who was included in the Cultures of Resistance feature documentary. He is also the founder of the band Katibeh 5, for which he has produced two albums: Ahla Fik Bil Mokhayamat (Welcome to the Refugee Camps) and Al Tareeq Wahad Marsoum (The Road Ahead is One and Known). He is using the award for a project with rappers and singers from Palestine and Lebanon. Click here to see a video!

    Mamolefe Petlane: Petlane, the director of Sesotho Media & Development in Lesotho, is using the award to support Sesotho Media & Development's annual event, Lesotho International Film 2020.

    Numair Qadri: Born in Srinagar, Kashmir, Qadri is an interdisciplinary artist who uses mediums including sculpture, installation, video, and photography. His work incorporates materials like soil, flowers, human hair, and bullets to examine humanity's ability to inflict pain and the impact of living through war. He has exhibited his work nationally and internationally. He is using the award aid his artist practice and buy materials for his projects.

    Sameer Qumsiyeh: Qumsiyeh is a Palestinian filmmaker whose films aim to provide an honest portrayal of humanity. He is using the award to support his new short documentary series called "Voiceless," which attempts to provide a humane and empowering angle on the lives of underrepresented people in Palestine.

    Paul Rafoneke: Rafoneke is an artist from Lesotho who specializes in drawing.

    Khothatso Ranoosi and Sotho Sounds: Based in Lesotho, Ranoosi is using the award to repaid old instruments and buy fishing line and oils. The award is also helping Sotho Sounds acquire a better sound system and pay for transportation when they perform.

    Syed Mujtaba Rizvi: Rizvi is an artist from Srinagar, Kashmir. Painting is central to his practice, but his work spans installations, drawing, video, and digital media. Through his art, he seeks to investigate how mainstream narratives, personal memories, and social behavior are shaped by contemporary politics around geography, religion, culture, and identity, as well as by the universal preoccupation with death. Rizvi also founded Kashmir Art Quest, a contemporary arts organization that creates international artist projects and partnerships for artists in Kashmir. He is using the award to support his Redundant Conversations series, which uses ink, watercolor, charcoal, and acrylics.

    RPPN Revecom: RPPN Revecom is a wildlife sanctuary that focuses on the treatment and rehabilitation of injured animals rescued from illegal traffickers. With jungle, natural wetlands, and a coastal region bordering the mighty Amazon River, RPPN Revecom’s forty-two acres contain trails, rope bridges, and wooden walkways. Pediatrician Dr. Paulo Roberto and his wife, Mrs. Marilene Amorim, started RPPN Revecom in 1997. RPPN Revecom is using the award to build an enclosure for a rescued Moorish Cat.

    Minatu Saleh: Born in the Sahrawi refugee camps near Tindouf, Algeria, Saleh studied ecology and environment at Hasiba Ben Bouli University in Chlef, Algeria. After school, she returned to the camps, where she developed an affordable low-tech system to filter water from impurities. The system allows residents to restore enough water to reuse for watering plants. Her project, titled "Water, Lost and Found," aims to bring real change on a critical issue to the Sahrawi people. Water scarcity is one of the biggest challenges to growing food in the desert, and "Water, Lost and Found" hopes to help enable growing food with filtered water. She is using the award to support the "Water, Lost and Found" project.

    Jawad Sharif: Sharif, the cinematographer on K2 and the Invisible Footmen, is an award-winning filmmaker based in Pakistan, known for his signature visual storytelling style. He has an intuitive talent for revealing spontaneous human moments and is among the rare filmmakers who are proficient in weaving compelling visuals and narratives in both fiction and non-fiction films. He was awarded a scholarship to contribute to an International Film Exchange Program at the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television. Sharif is also an alumnus of the Swedish Institute and Institut Fur Auslandsbeziehunge, Germany. He is using the award to support his new film project, "Go To Hell."

    Keyvan Shovir: Shovir is an Iranian-American multidisciplinary artist and muralist born in Iran and currently based in California. He is one of the pioneers of Iranian street art in Tehran, focusing on and addressing social issues and political messages through Persian calligraphy and poetry. Through sculptural sound installations, murals, and paintings, he explores the poetic experience of the current political situation within narration and storytelling from the past and its juxtaposition with the present. All the narrations are rooted in his Iranian heritage through literature, history, Persian myth, language, and today’s pop culture. He is using the award to support his project "Messenger," which is a sculptural installation created from skateboard decks, laser cut acrylic sheets, and chain. This piece is telling a story of an era in the late 90's through 2009.

    Andy Singer: Based in the United States, Singer has drawn cartoons and illustrations for over twenty-five years. His work appears mostly in the alternative press but occasionally in more mainstream venues. He has published cartoons in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, The Saint Paul Pioneer Press, Adbusters, New Internationalist, Z Magazine, The Progressive,,,, and many other newspapers and websites. He is the author of four books and has contributed cartoons to hundreds of others. His first book, CARtoons (2001) has been translated into five languages. Over the years, the internet has driven many newspapers and magazines out of business, greatly reducing the market for cartoons. Today, Andy's work appears in La Décroissance (France), Neweekly (China), and a handful of websites and small weekly or monthly papers. He is using the award to support the creation of longer multi-page comics, including a four-page comic version of the Woody Gutherie song "Ballad of Pretty Boy Floyd" and a multi-page comic using road-sign icons.

    Jaskaran Singh: Singh is a passionate photographer based in Jalandhar, India. He captures moments of injustice at protests, including at the largest peaceful protest in human history, as well as emotional moments in everyday life. He is using the award to upgrade his photography equipment and for website and e-commerce development.

    Anders Sunna: Sunna is a contemporary Sámi artist who grew up in Kiruna, Sweden and lives and works in Jokkmokk, Sweden. His art is explicitly political, speaking out about discrimination against the Sámi people through depicting the history of his own family in Pajala, northern Sweden. In his paintings, Sunna examines stereotypes of the Sámi, as well as the general public's ignorance of Sámi culture. In his artistic work, Sunna combines painting with collage and street art techniques. He is using the award to support his art uplifting the Sámi struggle for indigenous rights in the Nordic countries.

    Tumisang Taabe: Taabe is cyclist in Lesotho who trains children and adults to ride bikes. He is using the award to purchase new bikes, as well as parts needed to repair bikes.

    Rets'elisitsoe Takana: Takana is a farmer based in rural Lesotho.

    Tamada: Tamada is a new project from DJ/musician Lasha Chapel, a Georgian refugee from Abkhazia, that combines Georgian folk with electronic music. After ten years of playing rock ‘n’ roll, he turned to electronic music in 2015 and uses old forgotten instruments, harmonies, and rhythms, incorporating theatricality into his performances. Tamada touches on current social issues and romantic sentiments, mixing many musical directions—acoustic as well as electronic and traditional Georgian music—and has christened this distinctive new style "Deep Duqan." The first album, Frühstück mit Tamada, was released in 2020, and he is using the award to complete his next album.

    Gaafar Touffar: Gaafar Touffar is a prominent Arabic rap artist from Hermel, Lebanon. He performs across Lebanon and has released an album and numerous singles. He has collaborated with Osloob, Katibe 5, and other Palestinian, Lebanese, and Arab hip-hop artists in the Middle East to produce music and perform. He also works closely with young Lebanese, Palestinian, and Syrian artists. His lyrics focus on resistance, corrupt political systems, war tragedies, social and economic status, and daily personnel struggles. He is using the award to update his home studio.

    Anis Wani: Wani is a visual artist based in Kashmir. His work revolves around the ideas of home, memory, and identity. He engages with people on the ground in Kashmir, researching and narrating their stories through visuals and text. His primary focus is the political context and conflict in Kashmir. He is using the award to access relevant research material, as well as for assistance with travel.

    Tabeena Wani: A visual artist from Kashmir, Wani is attracted to two conflicting ideas: home and freedom. She attempts to seek a resolution between those opposing notions through art. She uses thread to incorporate old architectural designs and sufi shrines from her homeland into her art—shrines to the saints that have stood witness to tyranny and resisted it. She creates visuals of disturbance and responsibility that root from the memory clots. She is using the award for art materials.

    Onasis Wendker: Wendker is a young artist, musician, and composer from Burkina Faso who is now focusing on farming. He is using the award for his project WAGALYAM, an art center that will be both an informal school and a place to relax. The center will have a garden and a farm that is organized with medicinal plants and animals or poultry.

    Moulud Yeslem: Yeslem, an artist and activist against landmines, is from Western Sahara and lives in Spain. He is using the award to support his KASSIHA-2025 project, which aims to make changes at both the level of de-mining and at the political level in Western Sahara. Through the project, he is manufacturing a prototype of a machine for de-mining in desert areas.


Teboho Moekoa

Nthabiseng Mohanela (TeReo)

Siphiwe Nzima-Ntsekhe