Documentaries

The documentaries I have worked on as director or producer (the links to those uploaded online are provided; others are being converted and uploaded. Slowly…)

Aur Niklein Ge Ushshaq ke Qafley (There Will be More Caravans of Passion), 30 min, Jan 2010 (dir. Sharijl Baloch), a film about the Democratic Students Federation, 1949-54, a student movement led by Dr Sarwar (uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo)

Milne Do, (Let Kashmiris meet), Dir., short version 7 min (April 2009) for Video Journalists Movement (view here) and 13 min (July 2009)

    • Mukhtiar Mai: The Struggle for Justice, Dir., 5 min & 10 min, Women Broadcasting for Change series, London, August 2006 (‘Best Documentary’, Jaipur International Film Festival, Feb. 2009). Urdu version online here

      Still from my film ‘Mukhtiar Mai: The struggle for justice’

From Pakistan, with Love: Saneeya Hussain (1954-2005), Dir., 5 min, Geo TV Pakistan, Women Broadcasting for Change series, London, July 2005

Celebrating Saneeya, Dir., 14 min, London, July 2005

    • Rah-numa: Omar Asghar Khan, Producer, Geo TV Pakistan /Asia Foundation, 20 min., Nov 2004
    • Rah-numa: Dr Eqbal Ahmad, Director/Producer, Geo TV Pakistan /Asia Foundation, 20 min., Nov 2004

‘Hina’

Hina,Dir., 8 min., Geo TV Pakistan, Women Broadcasting for Change series London, May 2004

Women in Prison

  • Women in Prison, Dir., 8 min., Geo TV Pakistan, March 2004
  • Hudood Ordinance, Dir., 10 min., Geo TV Pakistan, November 2003
  • Forced Marriage – Abroad, Dir., 10 min, Geo TV Pakistan, August 2003
  • Forced Marriage, Dir., 10 min, Geo TV Pakistan, July 2003
  • Chomsky in Pakistan, Dir., 15 min., VPRO (Dutch Television), Netherlands, December 2001
  • Islamabad: Rock City, Field Producer, VH1, New York, November 2001
  • Karachi Diary, 18 min., Dir., VPRO (Dutch Television), Netherlands, September 2001
  • Naheed’s Story, 20 min., Dir./Prod, Goldsmiths College (University of London), May 2001
  • Naheed: A Portrait, 7 min., Dir./Prod, Goldsmiths College (University of London), February 2001

Selected synopses:

- ‘Milne do’ (Let Kashmiris Meet) 7 min version April 2009 and July 2009 (13 min); language: Urdu, English, with English subtitles. Filmed in Karachi, Pakistan, with archives and footage from Kashmir and Kathmandu
This film documents the experiences and insights of some Pakistanis – and a Kashmiri – who encountered each other across the ‘iron curtain’ that divides Kashmir. Crossing the divide changed perceptions and shattered stereotypes in unexpected ways…

- Mukhtiar Mai: The Struggle for Justice (English subtitles) 
August 2006; duration: 5 min & 10 min; language: Urdu & Seraiki with English subtitles. Filmed in Meerwala, Multan and Lahore, Pakistan.
In 2002, four men gangraped Mukhtiar Mai in revenge for an alleged transgression by her young brother. The rape was too public to be hushed up. Unlike most rape survivors who remain silent – or commit suicide — Mukhtiar, supported by locals led by the imam (Muslim priest), refused to bow down to the norms. She took her rapists to court and used compensation money given by the government to establish Meerwala’s first primary schools, for girls and boys, projects that she is expanding with donations from around the world. Although a symbol of hope for the underdog, she herself has yet to get justice. The government, which initially supported her, tried to prevent her from reaching international audiences. Her rapists were acquitted in 2005, and the case is pending before the Supreme Court. The film features interviews with Mukhtiar Mai, her lawyer and human rights activists, to put the case in socio-political perspective and brings the issue of gender violence into context as part of an overall system in which justice is the exception rather than the norm.
This film has been screened at several occasions in Pakistan and abroad, including at various film festivals. Best Documentary Award at the Jaipur International Film Festival 2009.

From Pakistan with love: Saneeya Hussain (1954-2005), 5 min Dir., Geo TV Pakistan, Women Broadcasting for Change series, London, July 2005

Celebrating Saneeya,
August 2005; duration: 14 mins; language: English
Filmed in Karachi, Pakistan, with archives and footage from Brazil, South Africa and Nepal
Saneeya, with her joyful laugh, lightness of spirit, striking height and long hair, embodied “feminism” and “women’s rights” in the most un-dogmatic way. Living life on her own terms, she countered the trends that militate against women’s individual freedoms in Pakistan. During the repressive years of military dictator General Ziaul Haq she worked as a journalist and was active in the women’s movement that defied the military rule. She also pioneered environmental journalism in Pakistan. Later, while working with the World Commission on Dams in South Africa she met a Brazilian geographer eleven years her junior. Their love story transcended age, culture, religion and nationalities.
In 2004, a severe allergic reaction stopped Saneeya’s breathing and her breathing stopped during a traffic jam in Sao Paulo, preventing her from reaching the hospital in time and sending her into a coma. This documentary is a celebration of her life and all that she stood for, through interviews with her husband, family and friends, and archive material.
Sticker on Saneeya’s fridge: “Life is uncertain, eat dessert first”.

- Hina
Director/Producer; August, 2004; duration: 8 min., 2004; language: Urdu w English subtitles. Filmed in Karachi
This documentary looks at issues of women’s empowerment and autonomy through the story of Hina, a gritty and engaging 17-year old, the youngest of five sisters. She is the first girl in her family to attend college and contemplate a career over marriage. But this apparent freedom comes at a terrible cost: the death a few years ago of Hina’s father, the family’s sole male member and breadwinner.

- Pakistan: Women in Prison
March 2004, duration 9 min, language: Urdu w English subtitles
Filmed in Karachi
When a young couple elopes in Pakistan, they can end up not on a honeymoon, but in separate prison cells. This news feature documents the story of one such couple, and puts their plight into the socio-political and legal perspective, through interviews with a retired judge working to help women in such situations, a politician and a police officer who concede that the justice system does not deliver justice, and activists and lawyers in Karachi.

- Hudood Ordinance
November 2003; duration 10 min; language: Urdu w English subtitles
Filmed in Karachi
How can a rape survivor end up getting charged and punished for adultery while her rapist goes free? This documentary news feature examines the controversial law that made sex outside marriage a criminal offence and rape a private one where the survivor has to prove her innocence or be accused or adultery. Through interviews with a rape survivor, activists, lawyers and Islamic leaders who support this law, as well as archival material, the film contextualises this law that ends up punishing the rape survivor instead of the rapist and allows eloping couples to be accused of adultery

Bangladeshi lawyer Sara Hossein in ‘Forced Marriage – Abroad’

- Jabr ki Shaadi – Vilayat Mein – Forced Marriage, Abroad,
August 2003; duration: 10 min; Geo TV Pakistan; Urdu w English subtitles
Filmed in London and Islamabad, with archival footage from Bangladesh and the UK
This documentary feature examines what happens when migrant parents in the West force their children into marriages ‘back home’ in South Asia. Emotional blackmail and physical violence, even murder, result when the children resist. The film includes interviews with activists, lawyers and young immigrants, footage from Bangladesh, and archival material from London, to examine the situation – and the stereotypes and prejudices they perpetuate and the steps that the British and Pakistani governments are taking to prevent forced marriages.

- Jabr ki Shaadi - Forced Marriage,
July 2003; Duration 10 min; Language: Urdu. Filmed in Karachi.

It is not just women but men also who are forced into marriage. This short report talks to a young man from Karachi who nearly committed suicide after he was pressurised by his family to marry a relative. It also features an interview with an educated young woman from a small town in Sindh who ran away rather than be forced into marriage, and now lives in fear for her life.

Rahnuma (Leader) series
Atwo-documentary series for Geo TV, presenting the life and work of Pakistani heroes who inspired people into active rather than passive citizenship, focusing on individuals with vision, commitment, energy and passion who changed the lives of hundreds, if not thousands and millions of lives because of the ideas that they generated and the example they set.

Dr Eqbal Ahmad (1933/4-1999)
Director/Producer for Geo TV; November 2004; duration: 20 mins; language: Urdu
Filmed in Lahore, New Delhi, New York and Holland, with archives and footage from around the world
Dr. Eqbal Ahmad was a scholar, activist, political analyst, teacher, diplomat and visionary – but above all, a foot-soldier in the army of peoples everywhere. An individual whose vision, commitment, energy and passion contributed to changing global perceptions of peace and justice, touching the lives not only of those who knew him, but millions of others through the ideas he generated. His close personal friends included radical academics Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn and Edward W. Said. As an activist, Eqbal was involved in struggles for peace and justice ranging from Vietnam and the first Gulf War, Algeria, Palestine, the East Pakistan War to Kashmir, Afghanistan and Pakistan and India, where he spent the last two years of his life, arguing vehemently against the nuclearisation of the region. Ironically, Dr. Eqbal Ahmad was better known in international academic and activist circles because for years he was banned from the Pakistani mass media.
The film chronicles these elements of Eqbal’s life, providing a synopsis of the causes he took up, his legacy and significance of his struggles.

ii. Omar Asghar Khan (1953-2002)
Producer for Geo TV; November 2004; duration: 20 mins; language: Urdu
Filmed in Mansehra, Abottabad and Islamabad (Pakistan) and New Delhi, with archives and footage from Pakistan
Omar was awell-known activist, development practitioner, and political leader. A courageous and committed champion of the rights and well-being of the poor, he made untiring efforts to organize the poor and the vulnerable and mobilize collective action.  His vision was a society based on the values of equity, social justice and tolerance. His compassion for the dispossessed and the meek, and his commitment to improving their well-being is reflected in every aspect of his work and accomplishments. Omar worked to reform the state and make it responsive to the needs and aspirations of its citizens, particularly those that are traditionally marginalized. He provided leadership to Pakistan’s civil society enabling it to assert itself and build public pressure to achieve democratic politics and governance in Pakistan. He died under mysterious circumstances on 25 June 2002.  This documentary provides a moving synopsis of his life and work.

- Naheed ki Katha (Naheed’s Story, 20 min) & Naheed Siddiqui: A profile (9 min); Director/Producer; May 2001; duration: &; Urdu w English subtitles
Filmed in London and Lahore, with archival material from Pakistan and the UK.
These documentaries record the struggle of Pakistan’s finest exponent of the classical dance known as ‘kathak’, to be able to dance in Pakistan. Banned from appearing on TV after Gen Zia’s military coup of 1979 and subsequent ‘Islamisation’ of the laws and media, she had to move to England in order to continue dancing. Naheed insists that she is not an activist and that dance is merely her own expression. Yet ‘Naheed’s Story’ is that of a life which stands as a metaphor for Pakistan’s little-recorded struggle for secularism and pluralism, freedom of expression and women’s rights.


2 Responses

  1. Great List of Documentaries. Head on over to it-films.com for educational films you have a Documentary Site here.

  2. best films ever

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