This past Wednesday evening, General Michael Hayden, Congressman Edward Royce and Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba of UAE were among the notable attendees who joined America Abroad Media (AAM) at its third annual “Power of Film” Awards Dinner at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium. The evening honored four outstanding leaders whose work exemplifies the power of media to inform, educate, and empower citizens about the critical social and public policy issues of our time.
This year’s honorees included two highly-praised films: Argo, the American drama, directed by Ben Affleck, based on the U.S. hostage crisis in Tehran in 1980 and winner of the 2013 Academy Award for Best Picture; and Difret, Ethiopian docu-drama and winner of the 2014 World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Honored Argo guests included real-life houseguests and key figures depicted in the film, including former CIA officer Tony Mendez (played by Ben Affleck), Pat Taylor (wife of the late Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor), Mark and Cora Lijek, and Bob Anders. After Pat Taylor received a standing ovation from the crowd to honor her late husband, actor and director Ben Affleck appeared on-screen to thank AAM for the prestigious award. Guests accepting the award for Difret included the film’s director Zeresenay Mehari and producer Mehret Mandefro as well as real-life subjects of the film Meaza Ashenafi and Aberash Diriba.
Individual honorees in attendance included Turkish journalist and broadcaster, Mithat Bereket, and Emirati media executive Noura Al Kaabi, CEO of twofour54 Abu Dhabi. Aaron Lobel, founder and president of AAM, said, “We are truly delighted to be honoring Noura Al Kaabi, a dynamic and outstanding leader. Her enormous contribution to the success of the media sector in Abu Dhabi, as well as her personality and leadership style, is an inspiration to women in the UAE and across the Middle East.”
Additional notable attendees included Ambassador Jim Jefferies, Ambassador Shaikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Khalifa of Bahrain, Ambassador Elin Suleymanov of Azerbaijani, Ambassador Gary Doer of Canada, Senator Mark Kirk, Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Congresswoman Shelia Lee Jackson, Lollywood actress Reema Khan, Quilliam Founding Chairman Maajid Nawaz, Goldman Sach Foundation’s Dina Powell, PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, former President of Bolivia Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, Assistant Secretary of State for Education and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan, founders of Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival Mohamed and Hoda Kanoo, former Israeli Ambassador Martin Indyk and former Afghan Ambassador Said Jawad, among others.