The Fritt Ord Prize 2020
Deeyah Khan

The 2020 Fritt Ord Foundation Prize is awarded to Deeyah Khan for her intrepid, methodical and innovative documentary films on extremism.

Norwegian-Pakistani Deeyah Khan (43) is one of today’s most influential directors of socially relevant and timely documentary films. She works at the international level and enjoys a large following the world over, not least in Norway.

“Her films are sensitive and bold in their attempts to understand and to enlighten, addressing several of the most controversial topics of our time. This results in documentary films that are both artistically powerful and journalistically original”, comments Grete Brochmann, chair of the Fritt Ord Board.

“Deeyah Khan is an extremely important practitioner of artistic freedom of expression. Her documentaries manage to deal with extremists constructively rather than by bringing them to silence. Her confrontations with militant activists, such as Islamists and Neo-Nazis, trigger changes in the extremists as well as in those of us who see her films. Khan occupies a rare position because she meets extremist forces and engages them in challenging, but calm talks”, Brochmann adds.

Deeyah Khan is making news with two new documentaries this autumn, both from Trump’s USA. The one is entitled America’s War on Abortion, the other, Muslim in Trump’s America. Both have recently premiered internationally and on Norway’s public broadcaster NRK.

Khan debuted in 2012 with a documentary about honour killing entitled Banaz. A Love Story. 2018 marked the début of the documentary on US right-wing extremism, White Right. Meeting the Enemy. Both these films won Emmy awards. 2015 marked the release of the documentary Jihad. A Story of the Others, while Islam’s Non-Believers was released the following year.

The prize laureate

Deeyah Khan (born on 7 August 1977 in Oslo, Norway) is of Norwegian-Pakistani descent. She grew up as Deepika Thathaal, making a name for herself as a musician and singer at an early age. In 1997, she left Norway and moved to London in the wake of smears and harassment against her from conservative Norwegian Muslims. In addition to her work on the documentary films, she has championed persecuted female artists, young Muslim women’s artistic endeavours and opportunities for freedom of expression, founding several organisations that work towards these goals.

The Fritt Ord Foundation Prize

The Fritt Ord Foundation Prize is the Foundation’s highest honour. The prize consists of NOK 500 000 and a statuette signed Nils Aas. The awards ceremony will take place at 5 p.m. on Sunday, 13 December at the Oslo Opera House.

The Fritt Ord Foundation

The Fritt Ord Foundation is a private non-profit foundation that aspires to promote freedom of expression, public debate, art and culture. The Fritt Ord Foundation Board consists of Grete Brochmann (Chair), Bård Vegar Solhjell (Deputy Chair), Christian Bjelland, Guri Hjeltnes, Anine Kierulf, Frank Rossavik and Sigrun Slapgard. Knut Olav Åmås is executive director of the Fritt Ord Foundation.


Deeyah Khan, email

Chair of the Fritt Ord Board, Grete Brochmann, mobile +47 992 78730.

Project Director, Bente Roalsvig, mobile +47 916 13340