My Darling Comrade documents the true story of Haider Rizvi — a passionate, award-winning Human Rights Journalist and artist / poet who worked for the United Nations in New York City for 13 years. Haider became homeless in 2013, sleeping on the street, while still working and publishing news articles from U.N. Headquarters. He later left the U.S., returning to his home country of Pakistan. Haider died mysteriously on October 29, 2015, but his story lives on...in his friends, family, and in all of the people who knew him.
From InterPress Service:
"Haider Rizvi, who spent nearly 20 years as a reporter for IPS covering the United Nations, died October 29 in a hospital in Pakistan, his home country. He was in his mid 50's. Haider began with IPS South Asia back in 1993 and eventually landed in the United States, reporting both from the IPS UN Bureau and later from Washington DC. In between, he grabbed a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Columbia University, New York. As a journalist, he was always true to his ideals of justice and equality, and a passionate advocate of the underdog. Haider’s writings faithfully reflected the causes he fought for. He advocated the rights of minorities and native Americans in the US and indigenous people in Latin America; highlighted the student protests in the US; advocated the Palestinian’s right to statehood; battled for the eradication of hunger and poverty in the developing world; joined the global campaign for nuclear disarmament and covered the “Occupy Wall Street” protests (which for him, also meant “Un-Occupy Palestine”). He was, in many ways, a prophet -- someone who saw past the veil to the terrible realities in the world. May God give him peace and bless his soul."
From Beena Sarwar's article on Haider:
"Haider was an egalitarian, beautiful soul, full of love for all life, humans, animals, plants.
'A whirling dervish,' was journalist Saqlain Imam’s description of Haider in a moving note. 'If God ever decided to send him to heaven for his love to humanity, he would refuse it because most of this poverty-stricken humanity would be in hell for their petty crimes to fill their stomachs.'
In their last conversation, Saqlain told him, “I’ve never met anyone truer than you and more resilient than you!”
Haider replied: 'Don’t tell anyone. They become jealous. Keep it in your heart.' "
Questions the documentary will pose:
- Why is there homelessness in one of the richest cities (and countries) in the world? New York city...
- How could such a talented, hardworking, and respected United Nations journalist become homeless?
- How did Haider die? Was he a political target? If so, was it because he wrote articles on Human Rights that incriminated governments and corporations?
- Why was Haider not being paid for his internationally published Human Rights-related articles?
- What is the relationship between alcoholism and homelessness?
- Is there a price for writing political truths?
The Importance of the project — and Our Goal
This film is an important work that shines a spotlight on a truly singular figure in journalism. As well it poses critical questions on the subject of journalism that still remain unanswered - questions such as, "Is there a price for telling the truth?"
Haider was known in many places as someone who was both poet and journalist, artist and humanist - he spoke candidly regardless of the political or social repercussions, and he offered a unique and unapologetic stance on justice. He was a complex iconoclast, considered a genius by many of his U.N. colleagues, as well as artful and entertaining. As a foreign correspondent reporter, Haider's compassion and drive kept him going after he lost his apartment in the East Village. He continued to cover the hard, unpopular humanitarian topics that many were unable or afraid to cover, despite his personal and financial problems.
This documentary is a recognition of Haider Rizvi’s contribution to the world — he was an ‘egalitarian, beautiful soul, full of love for all life, humans, animals, plants.’ (—Beena Sarwar) We want, and feel the need, to celebrate his life and his contribution to humanity by making a feature-length film about him.
Progress We’ve Made
To date, this documentary film has been self-funded by Douglas Smith, who met Haider on the street, filmed him for three months, and produced the first movie trailer. As Haider has passed away, he can no longer film him. Enter film-maker Jorge Arzac, who enthusiastically jumped on the project and offered his talents and help with funding. He filmed and edited the new trailer and has filmed interviews with Haider’s friends and colleagues in New York city.
We also now have Thomas Moore on our team, a talented and devoted filmmaker in New York who will help us with the editing and give other needed assistance and guidance. As well, we have Ahsan Muhyuddin, a devoted and talented cinematographer and journalist in Pakistan, who has been filming all the Pakistan interviews. This new team is almost finished filming Haider's friends in New York city, Pakistan, London, and other parts of the globe. The project almost ready to go into post-production.
The Timeline, which starts after funding
Pre-Production/Research on Haider’s Life: 4 weeks
Production - Filming interviews: 12 weeks
Post Production - Editing: 22 weeks
Total Project Time: 38 weeks
Completion of the Film is scheduled for Spring of 2019
A great article by Pakistani-born Journalist and Brown University Professor, Beena Sarwar, on Haider.
Another good article on Haider from Inter Press Service.
By Matthew Russell Lee (from http://www.innercitypress.com)
Dead in Lahore, Haider Rizvi Covered Corporatization at UN, Opposed “Mafia”
'UNITED NATIONS, October 31 -- The UN Spokesman ended his open statement at the October 29 UN noon briefing with this: “I have a bit of sad news. We have been informed that Haider Rizvi, who was, as you know, a reporter in the UN press corps for many years, died last night in Lahore, Pakistan. Our thoughts are with him and his family.”
Ours too. Haider began covering the UN in 1993; in recent years there were times he and Inner City Press were the only ones asking questions at press conferences on indigenous issues, on disarmament, decolonization and against the increasing corporatization of the UN....'
Here are links to some of Haider's stories: