Championing People Without a Voice
Having spent a large part of her youth in refugee camps and amongst underprivileged people, Sahar has a personal desire to provide a platform for those in need to seek justice and have their fears, troubles and achievements seen by the world.
Refugees, Immigration and Integration
Not only has Sahar been through the system as a refugee seeking asylum in various European countries, including the UK, but several of her documentaries have focused on the experiences of displaced peoples around the world.
Race and Identity
As an Iranian in Europe, Sahar is well aware of how even the slightest racial differences can be a cause of othering. Having battled against stigma, stereotypes and internal approaches to her own identity, race and identity are two issues she is intimately familiar with. Though Sahar identifies as British-Iranian, racially, her background is a lot more mixed. One of her grandmothers was Kurdish, whilst the other was from Russia. Furthermore, one of Sahar’s grandfathers was from Afghanistan. This meant that Sahar was brought up in a multi-lingual and multi-cultural environment, where issues around race and culture for her were always at the forefront.
Mental Health: Working Alongside Trauma
The importance of mental wellbeing has slowly been brought into the public arena in recent years, but how possible is it to continue working alongside a cause of trauma? Whilst awareness is on the rise, Sahar is still balancing the PTSD caused from her work in hostile environments with the need to continually return to the field in order to keep working. Sahar is a massive advocate for seeking mental health support and this is reflected in some of the documentaries she has worked on.
Born in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and bound by conservative views to sexuality in her teens, Sahar has witnessed the damage that honour-based abuse causes within families and communities around the world.
Process of Reporting, Journalism & Documentary Making
Sahar has taught at graduate and postgraduate level, teaching different processes involved in documentary making. From idea generation to development, pitching, journalism, reporting, production, and post-production, Sahar is able to pass on her hands-on experience in various parts of the craft. As a young, dyslexic woman of colour with a diverse background, Sahar had to overcome a lot of obstacles in this privileged-oriented world; experiences which she often incorporates into her teaching.
Freedom of Speech and Press
Above all, journalists understand the vital importance of free speech and a free press. Having grown up without access to either of these freedoms, and being forced to escape her home country of Iran and eventually losing her father to the cause, Sahar is determined to champion the rights of free press in her work and her personal life.
Whether as a refugee fighting for settled status, as a teenager fighting against cultural norms to assimilate into a completely new society, or as a young immigrant woman fighting for her career in a male-dominated space, Sahar has spent the last two decades of her life overcoming adversity. She believes that by shifting perception, we are able to turn these negatives into strengths, applying them to all sorts of challenges in life.
Video Highlights of Sahar Zand's Commentary
A multimedia reporter and filmmaker with extensive experience in long-form current affairs and documentaries, Sahar has fronted and produced a range of award-winning stories from across the world, for the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Vice, and a number of other international broadcasters.
Sahar was born in Iran and lived there until, at the age of 12, she was forced to flee the country with her mother and sister to avoid political persecution. After several years spent getting smuggled from border to border and relocating between refugee camps across Europe, she eventually found asylum in the UK. The adversity she overcame during these tumultuous years, and the poverty, race and identity issues that affected her once in the UK, have given Sahar an insight into marginalised communities that enables her to report from a unique perspective rarely seen in mainstream media.
Despite her age, Sahar has been prolific in her output, covering a variety of stories concerning major global issues such as world conflict, terrorism and human rights. For Channel 4’s critically acclaimed Unreported World series, Sahar has reported on a diverse range of stories, from the force-feeding of underage girls in Mauritania and the #MeToo movement in Bollywood, to an undercover investigation into the ongoing attacks on press freedom in Nicaragua. Her work for the BBC has seen her interview high-ranking Taliban officials, expose conditions within Afghanistan psychiatric institutions, and take right-wing politicians to task in Europe. Sahar’s creative and disruptive style of journalism has earned her high praise within the industry. Her work connects with a global audience and is immersive and impact-driven. For more information, visit www.saharzand.com.