Pakistani female filmmakers who carved a niche for themselves
Women are not less than men in any field nowadays. They have proved themselves in every aspect of life and made the world proud of their achievements.
In Pakistan’s entertainment industry, women were less prominent than men for a long time. But now the equation has changed, and women have excelled at every step of film-making.
Several female filmmakers have emerged who make great movies at par with their male counterparts and are also praised internationally for their tremendous work. They have made Pakistan proud. Here is a list of few such female filmmakers.
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is a Pakistani journalist, filmmaker and activist known for her work in films that highlight the inequality with women.
She is the recipient of two Academy Awards, seven Emmy Awards and a Knight International Journalism Award.
In 2012, the Government of Pakistan honoured her with the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, the second highest civilian honour of the country and Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
She is the only female film director to have won two academy awards by the age of 37. Her films often win awards at the international circuit and become memorable.
Sabiha Sumar studied filmmaking and political science at Sarah Lawrence College, New York, and International Relations at the University of Cambridge.
Her first documentary, Who Will Cast the First Stone?, was about protests by working-class women against the imposition of Islamic law in Pakistan in 1979.
Khamosh Pani (Silent Waters) is her first feature film and has won tremendous critical acclaim at film festivals around the world.
Khamosh Pani was screened at the Asia Society on April 8, 2005, as part of the Third Annual South Asia Human Rights Film Festival.
She, along with Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Samar Minallah, are the only three Pakistani women independent documentary filmmakers to have screened their work outside of Pakistan.
Mehreen Jabbar is one of the few directors in Pakistan who focus on their narratives and believe in telling as many stories as they can to viewers through their work.
Her first film Ramchand Pakistani told the story of a Pakistani man and his seven-year-old son who accidentally cross the border and spend years in an Indian jail.
This was followed by films like Dobara Phir Se and Lala Begum while she also directed dramas like Rehaai and Jackson Heights.
American-Pakistani filmmaker Afia Nathaniel founded her film production company Zambeel films in 2008. It was in 2014 that she directed her debut feature film Dukhtar (Daughter).
Featuring Samiya Mumtaz, Mohib Mirza, Ajab Gul, Samina Ahmed, Omair Rana and others, the film premiered at Toronto in 2014 becoming Pakistan’s Official Submission for Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards.
Based on the story of a mother and daughter, Dukhtar highlighted the topic of child marriages in Pakistan and received rave reviews.
Iram Parveen Bilal
Iram Parveen Bilal is a Physics Olympian turned filmmaker. In 2007, she formed Parveen Shah Productions which is a global short and long form media production company that focuses on telling stories that matter - stories that elevate the human condition.
She was one of 15 directors invited to Cinefondation’s L’Atelier at Cannes 2019 for her feature project WAKHRI, based on a social media star in Pakistan.