Cinemagic receives prestigious LA accolade at screening of new film Abia

Cinemagic Chief Executive Joan Burney Keatings was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the City of Los Angeles at a screening of Abia.

Cinemagic, a Belfast based film charity for young people, has received a special award from the City of Los Angeles following the screening of Abia, Cinemagic’s newest production that homes in on gender-based violence in the Middle East.

Joan Burney Keatings, chief executive of Cinemagic, attended the event in the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles. The event was hosted by the Consulate General of Mexico and the Consulate of Ireland on International Women’s Day.

Joan was there to reinforce the message of the short film, which highlights the violence faced by women in Syria and Jordan.

After the screening and a discussion about gender-based violence between Joan Burney Keatings and Gloria Cruz, Director for policy and advocacy of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Ms Burney Keatings was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for Cinemagic’s efforts.

The certificate commended the film charity for its “talent and courage” shown while producing the film in Jordan alongside young Jordanians and Syrian refugees and in partnership with Generations For Peace and supported by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs

It read, “On behalf of the City of Los Angeles, I commend you for the talent and courage you displayed in producing Abia, a film that tackles the issue of violence in Syria and Jordan. Your work inspired important conversations around gender-based violence and serves as a critical call to action for all of us. I wish you continued success in making films that provoke positive change in our world.”

The certificate was signed by Eunisses Hernandez, Council Member 1st District, City of Los Angeles.

Joan Burney Keatings MBE, Cinemagic Chief Executive said: “It is both a surprise and an honour to receive a Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Los Angeles for the work we put into Abia, from the very home of movie making, LA.

“We would like to thank the Consulate General of Mexico and the Consulate of Ireland for hosting this event. Being able to show Abia here and provoke conversation around the issue of gender-based violence is a very useful event in tackling it. It is such an honour to have our Abia production screened in the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles.

“We are so proud of our partnership with Generations For Peace, the Embassy of Ireland in Jordan and all the young people we had the pleasure of working with on this special project. The goal was to work with the Jordanian and Syrian young people, aged 18-25, from concept to screen, to inspire them and develop new skills, which we hope will empower them both in practical filmmaking ability and in confidence.

“We look forward to showing Abia in many more locations across the world, provoking discussion and inspiring more and more young people, especially women to go on to achieve in all industries.”

Speaking at the event Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media of Ireland said:

“Congratulations to all the cast, crew and everyone involved with the short film Abia. A number of important themes are explored in this Cinemagic production whose continued focus on conflict resolution and peace-building is to be admired. I wish Cinemagic continued success into the future as they continue to utilise film as a medium to connect and train with youth.”

Marcella Smyth, Ireland’s Consul General to the South Western United States added:

“Our partnership with Mexico on Women, Peace and Security during our elected terms on the UN Security Council is one that we are eager to continue, especially at the local level. Continuing to raise awareness on issues such as gender-based violence is an important part of that. 

“The Consulate General of Ireland collaborated with the Consulate General of Mexico in 2022 for International Women’s Day to discuss gender-based violence and we do so again in 2023 as the issue remains an urgent concern.  This shared screening of Cinemagic’s powerful film is one that I hope will generate discussion and provide a forum for us all to look at how we can act for change.”

Aida Velasco, Consul for Political Affairs at the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles remarked about the feminist foreign policy adopted by Mexico since 2019:

“Among the pillars of this foreign policy it stands out a pledge to promote a feminist agenda with a gender perspective.  We are very aware that public policies, including consular services, require to be adapted to respond to the needs of vulnerable groups, including women victims of violence. Migrant women are more susceptible to suffer from violence.

Generations For Peace, Chief Executive Officer, Mark Clark MBE, commented:This wonderful collaboration between Generations For Peace and Cinemagic, made possible by the support of the Irish Embassy, has provided a unique opportunity for Jordanian and Syrian youth in the city of Amman, to work directly on every aspect of film production to give voice to a topic the youth themselves selected as their priority issue: gender-based violence. It’s wonderful that the film has been showcased in Los Angeles and we are so grateful to the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles, and the Consulate of Ireland, for their support.”

Cinemagic’s Abia took Best Foreign Language Film at the recent British Short Film Awards. It is one of many achievements for the charity, which was set up 35 years ago with an aim to promote independent and cultural youth focused film and cross-community film opportunities in Northern Ireland. It has since evolved to work across the world on projects with a similar ethos.


For all media enquiries please contact: Claire Shaw, Cinemagic Press Officer, or call 028 90 311 900.

Teaser for ABIA:

Abia is a short film about violence against women, created and produced in Jordan by Belfast-based Cinemagic, with young Jordanians and Syrian refugees, in partnership with Generations for Peace and supported by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs. It won Best Foreign Language Film at the British Short Film Awards.

About Generations For Peace ( Generations For Peace (GFP) is a Jordan-based global non-profit organisation founded and chaired by HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein, dedicated to sustainable peacebuilding and conflict transformation through sport, arts, advocacy, dialogue, empowerment, and media. By providing unique training and continuous support and mentoring to volunteer leaders of youth, GFP empowers them to lead and cascade change in their communities, promoting active tolerance and responsible citizenship and working at the grassroots to address local issues of conflict and violence. Over the last sixteen years, GFP has trained and mentored more than more than 22,702 volunteer leaders of youth in 52 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. With our support, their ongoing programmes address local issues of conflict and violence and have positively impacted the lives of more than 1,450,877 children, youth and adults. GFP is currently ranked by TheDotGood  as “#25 in the Top 200 Social Good Organisations in the World”, the #3 Peacebuilding SGO in the World and the #1 SGO in the Arab World.

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