"Paradise Now" & "Junoon" to Receive MPAC's 15th Annual Media Award


Los Angeles: The Muslim Public Affairs Council announced March 8 that it would present its 15th Annual Media Award to Warner Independent Pictures and Director Hany Abu-Assad for their Golden Globe winning film "Paradise Now", and to Salman Ahmed, creator of the wildly popular South Asian music group "Junoon". The gala awards dinner will be held on April 29, 2006 at the Marriott Downtown Hotel in Los Angeles, CA.
The Academy Award-nominated "Paradise Now" follows two Palestinian childhood friends who have been recruited for a strike on Tel Aviv and focuses on their last days together as they grapple with the moral and political questions facing Palestinians resisting occupation. When they are intercepted at the Israeli border and separated from their handlers, a young woman who discovers their plan causes them to reconsider their actions.
Winner of multiple prizes at the 2005 Berlin Film Festival, and invited to the 2005 Telluride Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, the film script was written by Hany Abu-Assad ("Ford Transit," "Rana's Wedding") and Bero Beyer and directed by Abu-Assad, and stars Kais Nashef, Ali Suliman, and Lubna Azabal.
Salman Ahmed, founding member of one of South Asia's biggest rock bands, Junoon, will be honored for using his music and stardom as a tool for promoting peace and tolerance among all people. Formed in 1990, Junoon's chart topping music is inspired by the ancient Sufi tradition, and the band's music and lyrics reflect moderate, modern Islam.
The subject of a 2003 PBS "Wide Angle" documentary entitled "The Rock Star and the Mullahs", Ahmed is also UNICEF's chosen spokesman for AIDS prevention, and he and the group have publicly advocated the need for peace with India. The group has also been recognized for its outstanding achievements in music and peace by UNESCO, and for their contribution to Asian culture by the BBC.
In an effort to promote positive and accurate portrayals of Islam and Muslims, the Muslim Public Affairs Council each year recognizes voices of courage and conscience who are the best in their field. Since 1991, MPAC has honored artists, actors, authors, and activists for their artistic contributions to tolerance and diversity. Past recipients include Morgan Spurlock for the "30 Days" episode "Muslims and America", the Allah Made Me Funny Muslim Comedy Tour, Spike Lee, Karen Armstrong, Hakim Olajuwan, Yusuf Islam and the producers of VH1's "Behind the Music," Michael Moore, and Alec Baldwin.
"We are thrilled to be able to recognize these talented and inspirational voices for their humanizing portrait of Islam and Muslims," said MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati. "Amidst dismal and ominous daily reports featuring criminals who disfigure the image of Islam and Muslims, music and film hold the power to challenge stereotypes and win hearts and minds."
To purchase your tickets for MPAC's 15th Annual Media Awards Dinner on April 29, 2006 at the Marriott Downtown Hotel in Los Angeles, call MPAC at (213) 383-3443. Tickets will not be sold at the door.

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