Note: See my Vimeo page for additional short reports
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 (on YouTube and Vimeo)
Milne Do, (Let Kashmiris meet), Dir., (April 2009) for Video Journalists Movement (view here) and 13 min (July 2009), Urdu, with English subtitles. The experiences and insights of some Pakistanis – and a Kashmiri – who encountered each other across the ‘iron curtain’ that divides Kashmir. Crossing the divide changes perceptions and shatters stereotypes in unexpected ways
Mukhtiar Mai: The Struggle for Justice (English subtitles), August 2006; duration: 5 min & 10 min, Urdu & Seraiki with English subtitles. Filmed in Meerwala, Multan and Lahore, Pakistan. Urdu version online here. , Women Broadcasting for Change series, London, August 2006 (‘Best Documentary’, Jaipur International Film Festival, Feb. 2009). In 2002, four men gangraped Mukhtiar Mai in revenge for an alleged transgression by her young brother. Unlike most rape survivors who remain silent – or commit suicide — Mukhtiar, supported by locals led by the imam (Muslim priest), took her rapists to court. She used compensation money given by the government to establish Meerwala’s first primary school for girls and boys, projects that she is expanding with donations from around the world. The film features interviews with Mukhtiar Mai, her lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan, and human rights activists, putting the case in socio-political perspective. It puts 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.
From Pakistan with love: Saneeya Hussain (1954-2005), 5 min Dir., Geo TV Pakistan, Women Broadcasting for Change series, London, July 2005, filmed in Karachi, Nepal and India, with archives and footage from Brazil and South Africa – 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. She worked as a journalist and was active in the women’s movement that defied the repressive military rule of Gen. Ziaul Haq. A pioneer of environmental journalism in Pakistan, she later worked with the World Commission on Dams in South Africa. There she met a Brazilian geographer eleven years her junior. Their love story transcended age, culture, religion and nationalities. Saneeya died in Brazil in 2005, after going into a coma following an asthmatic attack. A traffic jam prevented Luis from getting her to the hospital in time. Sticker on Saneeya’s fridge: “Life is uncertain, eat dessert first”. (Celebrating Saneeya, August 2005; duration: 14 mins; language: English)
Hina, Dir, prod. Geo TV, 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.
Women in Prison, Dir., 8 min., Geo TV, Pakistan, March 2004, Urdu with English subtitles, 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, Dir., 10 min., Geo TV, Pakistan, November 2003, Urdu with English subtitles
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
Jabr ki Shaadi – Vilayat Mein (Forced Marriage, Abroad), Aug. 2003; 9 min; Geo TV Pakistan; English version, 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.
SHORT reports for Geo TV:
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 200
– Naheed ki Katha (Naheed’s Story, 20 min) & Naheed Siddiqui: A profile (9 min); Director/Producer; May 2001; 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.
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.
i. 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.