What was the genesis of this film?
Well, I lost my mother on 9/11. And I wanted to do everything I could to make sure that what happened to her never happened again. In the beginning, that was about founding Families of September 11 and working to change policies in our country, and make it safer and more secure. In 2008, I was invited by the United Nations to a symposium on supporting victims of terrorism. While I was there, I met people from all over the globe - including Ashraf, the subject of Killing in the Name. And what was so empowering was that even though we spoke different languages and practiced different religions, we were all there
for the same reason. And that was the genesis of Global Survivors Network, the organization that we created, and that produced Killing in the Name.
What was it about Ashraf that struck you?
He's such a special soul, and has such a lovely character. And to think of what he suffered is unfathomable. And yet here he is - this incredibly kind, loving, energetic person who wants to go out there and talk about this issue, because he felt not enough people were talking about it. I agreed, and so we came up
with the idea for the film.
What was the most challenging aspect of the production?
" ... we plan to continue to go out there and give survivors a chance to tell their side of the story, because we don't always get to hear from the innocent people who get caught up in this violence."
It's such a heavy topic, and so to address that in a way where people find some inspiration and hope and empowerment. Hearing Ashraf's story, we all have empathy. But in other parts of the world, they haven't heard that story. And that's why I felt compelled to get Ashraf's story out there. I think that's why I continue to feel compelled to tell other survivor stories. In fact, we recently released a series of five films of Pakistani survivors of terrorism. And we plan to continue to go out there and give survivors a chance to tell their side of the story, because we don't always get to hear from the innocent people who get caught up in this violence.
What do you hope audiences will take away from the film?
I hope they'll understand that this issue is still very real. The threat is still very real. And that we all have to stand up together; those who condemn violence, those who want to see grievances resolved in a nonviolent way. And it's not just in the U.S., it's around the globe. So I hope HBO viewers will watch this film and learn about what individuals around the world are doing, and perhaps join us.