Paul Jay & Nelofer Pazira
After three years as a post office truck driver, and five as a rail-road carman mechanic, Jay decided it was time to make films. Years later, he's still at it. Jay recently completed "Return to Kandahar", a feature length documentary co-directed with Nelofer Pazira (star of the movie Kandahar). The film follows Pazira's return to Afghanistan in search of her childhood friend. Her first attempt to find Dyana, inspired the fictional movie Kandahar. This film is the documentary account of her second journey. Macleans called it "eye-opening . . .breathtaking". The Globe and Mail called it "wonderful . . . an astonishing story of the personal and political". The Ottawa Citizen called it "shocking, compelling . . . as suspenseful as any drama" Jay's Lost in Las Vegas was a feature length documentary for A&E. "Equal parts hilarious, heroic and heartfelt . . . often surprising, occasionally inspiring, frequently hilarious . . . You've got to see this thing to believe it. It's so good." (Rob Salem, The Toronto Star) Jay's Hitman Hart: wrestling with shadows, a feature length documentary, was screened in 25 major festivals and won more than a dozen awards. It's been called "one of the most acclaimed Canadian films in years"(eye magazine), "A tale as bizarre as Kafka and as tragic as Shakespeare" (Ottawa Citizen) and "one of the best films of 1998"(Peter Plagens, art critic for Newsweek). See reviews here. 'Hitman' was produced in cooperation with the National Film Board of Canada, TVOntario, The 'A' Channel, CTV, A&E, BBC=s Storyville, and La Sept/Arte. Never-Endum-Referendum, also a feature length doc, (CTV, SRC, Arte) was called ' a moving, masterful piece of film-making about a tough subject." (Tony Atherton Ottawa Citizen). Jay is the creator and executive producer of CBC Newsworld=s flagship debate program counterSpin, now in it's fifth season of prime time debate about the news of the day. Other work includes "Justice Denied" (Turner), " The Life and Death of Owen Hart" (TVO, A&E), Albanian Journey:End of an Era (TVOntario, CBC Witness), The Birth of Language (TVOntario and Discovery U.S.), 'Here's to the Cowboy' (CBC, Disney, London Weekend, Central TV). Jay exec-produced 'Through Thick and Thin' (CBCNewsworld), 'Machine Gun' (3x1 Discovery Canada&US), and 'The Famine Within ' (TVO). Jay was the co-creator and co-executive producer of Face Off, a nightly prime time debate program that ran 5 years on CBC Newsworld. A past chair of the Canadian Independent Film Caucus, the main organization of documentary filmmakers in Canada, Jay is the founding chair of Hot Docs!, the Canadian international documentary film festival. Jay was born and raised in Toronto.

Nelofer Pazira

Nelofer Pazira was born in Hyderabad - India (1973) into an Afghan family. The Paziras returned to the Afghan capital, Kabul, with their first-born child a year later. Nelofer spent most of her life in Kabul, growing up in a liberal-minded, economically well-off, professional family. Both her parents were university graduates who shared ideals of freedom and democracy. Their dreams were shattered when the Russian army occupied their country in 1979. At the age of six, Nelofer witnessed the imprisonment of her father by the pro-Russian regime. This had a profound effect on her: at the age of 12, Nelofer was organizing protests and writing anti-government slogans on her school wall. By 14, she was distributing forbidden books, tapes, and movies in Russian-occupied Kabul. She completed her high school at 16, before the family fled the country to Pakistan in 1989. The family lived in Islamabad as refugees for over a year. Nelofer taught Persian Literature in a Mujahadeen-run school, where students and teachers were not allowed to discuss religion or politics in the classrooms, and where a harsh dress code for women was given priority over learning. It was there that Nelofer became disillusioned with the Mujahadeen forces, the Cold War "freedom fighters" that were admired by a majority of Kabul residents as a resistance movement that fought for Afghanistan's freedom from Russian occupation. By 1989, the refugee community in Pakistan considered the Mujahadeen to be Western puppets: Nelofer discovered that their struggle was more about control and power than for the independence of the country. In the hope of escaping this suffocating environment, the Paziras migrated to Canada in October, 1990. They settled in Moncton, New Brunswick - the only Afghan family in the entire province at the time. Nelofer attended Moncton High School, where she learned English.

Return To Kandahar

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