Saturday, November 22, 2014

South Asian International Film Festival Spotlight: Dukhtar

I’m excited to cover a few selections from the second year in a row the South Asian International Film Festival, exhibiting films from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal, which presents its eleventh year in New York City from November 17th-23th.

Directed by Afia Serena Nathaniel
Screening November 22 at 5pm

Pakistan’s official Oscar entry this year is this drama about a ten-year-old girl smuggling away from her home when she is promised as a child bride to a powerful and dangerous man. Allah Rakhi (Samiya Mumtaz) wants only to protect her young daughter Zainab (Saleha Aref) from having her childhood stolen from her, and those who want the marriage to go through will stop at nothing to get her back. Billed as both a drama and a thriller, this film is actually strongest in its more intimate moments, as Allah Rakhi and Zainab befriend Sohail (Mohib Mirza), a truck driver who initially demands that his stowaways depart but gradually proves to be a sympathetic and kindhearted guardian for them. This is female director Afia Nathaniel’s first full-length feature, a powerful look at one culture where physical escape is truly the only option for survival. While it’s not always firmly enthralling, this is an empathetic and worthwhile film.

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