Saba Vasefi(New South Wales)

2016 recipient of the Multicultural NSW Arts and Culture Award, Academic, Film Maker, Human Rights Advocate

Saba  Vasefi

Saba Vasefi is a feminist filmmaker, academic, poet and PhD candidate in Feminist Cinema Studies and Documentary Film at Macquarie University.

Saba’s Master's thesis in Feminist Literary Criticism received the highest grade possible and at the age of twenty-four she became one of the youngest lecturers at the prestigious Shahid Beheshti University in Iran. After four years she was banned from teaching due to campaigning against the death penalty in Iran. In 2010 Saba fled Iran to Australia with her 9 years old daughter Minerva who is a cellist at the Sydney Youth Orchestra.

Saba holds a postgraduate degree in Documentary at the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS). She is a researcher at UNSW, Asylum Seekers Centre Ambassador, Ambassador of the Refugee Council of Australia for Refugee Week, Creative Director of Bridge for Asylum Seekers Foundation and the director of Sydney International Women’s Poetry & Arts Festival and the director of Diaspora symposium. In 2016 NSW Parliament House congratulated, on the success of the symposium and on her ongoing contribution to women's rights and social justice.

She was the recipient of a Premier's Multicultural Medal for Art & Culture, an Edna Ryan Award for making a significant contribution to feminist debate and also a finalist of the Women's Agenda Leadership Award in Agenda Setter category.

She was twice a judge for the Sedigheh Dolatabadi Book Prize for the Best Book on Women’s Literature and Issues. She was a committee member of Committee of Human Rights Reporters and worked as a journalist for the International Campaign for Human Rights.

Saba made an underground documentary about child execution in Iran, titled Don’t Bury My Heart, which was screened by the BBC, the United Nations, VOA (US Government Broadcast), NSW Parliament House, UCLA and at various film festivals and universities around the world.

Her documentary, Symphony of Strange Waters, the story of her cellist daughter Minerva, was launched at the UN and NSW Parliament House.

Saba’s film Beyond the Father’s Shadow, the story of Australia’s first female parliamentarian, Edith Cowan, was launched at NSW Parliament House and received recognition from NSW Parliament House.

She has published articles on women and children executions, the asylum seeker crisis, intersectional discrimination against women and women in exile, decolonisation in various media outlets such as the Guardian, BBC, Daily Life, Institute for War and Peace Reporters and Lumina Journal.

Her current film project helps to raise awareness of the discrimination, violence and harm refugee and asylum seeker children face in Australia. The film reveals the impact of Australian immigration policies on children.

She tirelessly utilises her research, artistic and cultural activities as an alternative form of nonviolent action and civil resistance to foster discussions about decolonising arts, literature and human rights, the role of the arts in feminism, ending violence against women, and overcoming marginalisation with a focus on supporting change by building coalitions based on solidarity, inclusion and diversity, and replacing discrimination with empathy.