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“Things Have Begun to Converge, Paradoxically, Between India and Pakistan” – Award-winning Filmmaker Sabiha Sumar

Multiple award-winning filmmaker and Sundance alumnus Sabiha Sumar spoke to eShe's Aekta Kapoor at eShe Indo-Pak Peace Summit Led by Women.

Globally acclaimed and multiple award-winning Pakistani filmmaker Sabiha Sumar started out her journey with the film Who Will Cast the First Stone in the late 1990s, which dwells on the subject of victims of rape being convicted for adultery under Zia’s Hudood Ordinances.

Her first feature film Khamosh Pani or Silent Waters is considered one of the most heartbreaking films of Partition and went on to win 17 international awards including the Golden Leopard at Locarno Film Festival. She is also the creator of the stunning documentary Dinner with the President featuring Pervez Musharraf, and Azmaish: A Journey Through the Subcontinent, which brings up questions of national and religious identity for both Pakistan and India.

Sabiha produced the Academy Award and Emmy winner Saving Face, and contributed two episodes to the award-winning series Girls Around the World. Her works have screened at major film festivals such as Sundance, Tiff, MoMA, Locarno and BFI LFF.

Bollywood actor Kalki Koechlin (left) featured in Sabiha Sumar’s Azmaish (2017)

She was awarded the Garde de Chevalier by the French Ministry of Arts and Letters and has been recognized as an Honorary Fellow by Wolfson College, University of Cambridge, for her seminal work on women and film. Currently she is creating a multicultural, international show set in London, Mumbai and Dubai titled Ordinary, Extraordinary.

She was in conversation with eShe founder and editor Aekta Kapoor for the grand finale session of eShe’s Indo-Pak Peace Summit Led by Women titled ‘Lens of Humanity: The Essence of India and Pakistan in Cinema’.

She spoke about subjectivity in documentary filmmaking, depicting trauma, the painful memories of Partition that both nations now live with, religious extremism on both sides of the border, and having dinner with powerful politicians.

“I think things have begun to converge, paradoxically, between India and Pakistan. Pakistan started out saying it’s an Islamic state, with a religious identity. India started out as a secular country and it’s going toward that. My idea [through Azmaish] was to explore why that is happening, and can India learn from Pakistan about what it means to take on a religious identity. Does India question that?” she said during the discussion.

Watch the full interview here.

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