Mara Ahmed has lived and been educated in Belgium, Pakistan and the United States. She has an MBA and another Master’s degree in Economics. She worked in corporate finance for many years before launching her career in film. She’s an artist and filmmaker whose work is driven by political activism and a constant need to resolve what is framed as incongruent.
Mara resigned from her job as a Senior Financial Analyst at a Rochester company in 2004 to devote herself to art, her true passion. Her artwork was exhibited at the Kinetic Gallery, at SUNY Geneseo, in 2008. More recently, in 2014, her collage work, which incorporates painting and photography with texturally rich fabrics from Pakistan and India, was exhibited at the Colacino Gallery, Nazareth College. Titled “This heirloom,” it was a multi-media exhibit that combined art and film and endeavored to forge a link to the past via personal and collective histories.
Her film training began at the Visual Studies Workshop and later continued at RIT. She learned filmmaking in order to make her first documentary, THE MUSLIMS I KNOW, which she began to shoot in 2006. The film is a reaction to the post 9/11 negative stereotyping of Muslims in mainstream media. Its goal is to start a dialogue between American Muslims and non-Muslims. The Muslims I Know premiered at the Dryden Theatre in 2008. Mara’s second documentary, PAKISTAN ONE ON ONE, is a broad survey of public opinion in Pakistan about issues of interest to Americans. The film premiered in 2011 at the Little Theatre. Both films have been broadcast on PBS and have been screened across the US and internationally.
A THIN WALL is Mara’s third documentary. It is a film about memory, history and the possibility of reconciliation. It focuses on the Partition of India in 1947, but derives lessons that remain urgently relevant today. Shot on both sides of the border, in India and Pakistan, A THIN WALL is a personal take on Partition rooted in stories passed down from one generation to another. It is written and directed by Mara Ahmed and co-produced by an Indian filmmaker based in New Delhi. Both filmmakers are descendants of families torn apart by Partition. The film is a work of art infused with original animation, literary writing and music.
Mara’s production company is Neelum Films. She is a member of Rochester Women in Film and Television, Rochester Film Lab and the Rochester Documentary Group.