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Francis ASSADI

Francis always yearned to be an explorer. His early childhood at the Caspian Sea and the Vienna Woods instilled in him his love for nature and his artistic talent eventually led to his passion for photography and university degree in filmmaking.

After graduation, Francis collaborated for the next decade as a cinematographer on documentary and film/video projects in San Francisco, New York, Vienna and Cape Town. Then, while living in NY, 9/11 happened, and as with so many others, it affected and changed the course of his life dramatically. A series of unexpected events led to a 12-year stint with the United Nations as a TV producer and Head of Media Production.

This journey took Francis to Afghanistan, Burundi, Rwanda and Lebanon, where he lived, worked, learned, made friends and met his future wife and collaborator, Eliana, in Kabul.

Francis wanted to make a difference with the productions he took on with the UN and so began to develop unique approaches that could communicate important concepts in an engaging way. He created a first ever board game for Afghan children about the road to peace in Afghanistan and produced an innovative documentary explaining to the voting public the many foreign concepts of Afghanistan’s first-ever democratic presidential elections in 2004.

In Burundi there was another opportunity to explain the concepts of “free and fair” elections to the public with a series of entertaining short films starring a local theatre group. But in Lebanon, Francis took these concepts further and created a ten part mini series starring a well-known Lebanese actor who literally took the audience on a “Journey Through UNIFIL”, the UN Peacekeeping Mission in south Lebanon. His seven years and numerous productions in Lebanon, including a documentary on sea turtles, culminated in the award winning TV series “The Challenge” which challenged Lebanese journalism students to explain the UN mission to the Lebanese in their own words.

Francis ended up again in Afghanistan, ten years after he first left. Much had changed and unfortunately not for the better. It was 2015 and the UN’s 70th anniversary, so Francis came up with a novel photographic concept and created a unique project to commemorate the UN’s birthday by honoring professional Afghan role models. The photo exhibition toured the country to great success.

In 2016, Francis left the UN to pursue his passions and create his own self-directed innovative projects. This special photographic concept, the subsequent founding of Philozoephy and the current project Extraordinary Conservationists constitute his next steps in an ongoing journey as filmmaker, artist, and protector of wildlife and wild places.

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