UNITY PRODUCTIONS FOUNDATION
Unity Productions Foundation www.upf.tv is a 501(c)3 non-profit education and media company whose mission is to promote peace through the media. UPF produces high-quality films for national and worldwide broadcast and creates and runs long-term educational campaigns that use the media to increase understanding and dialogue among the world's spiritual and cultural traditions.
UPF films draw heavily on the expertise of artists and humanities scholars in art, architecture, literature, history, philosophy, religion, Islamic studies, Middle East studies, world culture, ethnic studies, and language. Many of these experts are also featured as "talking heads" in the films. UPF's first film project was Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, which aired nationally on PBS on December 18, 2002 and received positive reviews in most of the country's major newspapers. Its worldwide premier occurred in November 2003 through the National Geographic International channel. The film was awarded a 2004 Cine Award for Best Professional Documentary in its category.
UPF's subsequent films won prestigious awards as well. Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain, funded in part through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, received its national broadcast on PBS in August 2007. In 2007 the film won a Grand Goldie Award for Excellence in Film, and in 2008 won Best Documentary at the ITVADC Peer Awards and a Gold Award at the Hamburg World Media Film Festival. An extensive educational website based on the film was funded by the U.S. Institute of Peace. UPF's others films include On a Wing and a Prayer (2008), Talking Through Walls (2008), Allah Made Me Funny (2008), and Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think (2009). At the world premier of Inside Islam in Washington, DC on June 3, 2009, at which Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave the keynote speech.
UPF's reach is broadened and deepened through its educational programs, 20,000 Dialogues (www.20000dialogues.org) and Muslims on Screen and Television (www.mostresource.org). 20,000 Dialogues is a nationwide initiative that uses UPF films to facilitate dialogue about Muslims and Islam. To date, the program has partnered with more than 300 universities, community and interfaith groups, houses of worship, student groups, and artists to generate more than 6,000 dialogues among more than 50,000 young people, high school, undergraduate and graduate students, professionals, academics, and religious and community leaders. The dialogue packets accompanying each film were developed in collaboration with humanities scholars.
As Muslim themes and characters appear more often in television and film, writers and producers face a complex challenge: presenting multidimensional characters and stories that transcend stereotypes. UPF, in partnership with the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, and in association with the Gallup Organization and the Muslim West Facts Project, launched Muslims on Screen and Television in 2009 to provide the Hollywood creative community with resources and accurate information on Muslims and regions with majority Muslim populations. The program, based at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts, also engages thought leaders and the entertainment community in an ongoing dialogue about the United States and the Muslim world.