KARACHI: The Pakistani Academy Selection Committee has selected Dukhtar to be submitted for Oscar consideration in the 'Foreign Language Film Award’ category at the 87th Academy Awards.
The film was selected by way of a secret ballot and was the overwhelming film of choice of the Committee members, a press release stated.
As per standard practice, films selected by each individual country's Academy selection committee are submitted to the Academy for screening, shortlisting and voting with official Oscar nominees announced at a later date.
In 2013, the Pakistani Academy Selection Committee selected Zinda Bhaag as the first Pakistani film in over fifty years to be submitted for Oscar consideration in the 'Foreign Language Film Award’ category.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will choose the final nominees for all award categories including Best Foreign Language Film by January 8, 2015. The complete and final list of Oscar nominees will be announced on January 15, 2015 with the presentation show for the 87th Academy Awards scheduled to take place on February 22, 2015.
A record number of 76 films were submitted for Oscar consideration in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 86th Academy Awards held earlier this year. The number of internationally submitted films for this category is expected to be even greater this year.
In a departure from traditional film fare, Dukhtar, directed by Afia Nathaniel, highlights the issue of child marriage through the setup of a road-trip thriller that explores the intense drama of a mother’s frenzied search for a new life for her daughter with the help of ex-Mujahid truck driver played by award-winning actor Mohib Mirza. The film is set against the backdrop of the surreal landscapes and roads of Hunza, Skardu, Gilgit and Kallar Kahar all the way to the urbanscape of Lahore.
The feature film boasts a star studded cast that includes Samyia Mumtaz, Mohib Mirza, Saleha Aref, Asif Khan, Ajab Gul, Adnan Shah (Tipu), Abdullah Jan, Samina Ahmed and Omair Rana. Dukhtar was shot in 30 days in below freezing conditions with more than 200 extras and chase scenes filmed on the world’s highest altitude roads.
The film was premiered at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival [TIFF] on Friday September 5, as an official selection in the festival’s Discovery section. Followed by its international release, Dukhtar was released in Pakistan earlier today, i.e. Thursday, September18, at leading cinemas and film houses nationwide.
"It’s so overwhelming to hear about this news right after our World Premiere at Toronto and during our theatrical release in Pakistan. My deep gratitude to the Pakistan Academy Selection Committee for their support and for our audiences everywhere who have embraced us so warmly. May the Force be with us!" said Afia Nathaniel.
The Pakistani Academy Selection Committee was chaired Emmy and Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and includes Akifa Mian, Ali Zafar, Framji Minwalla, Iram Parveen Bilal, Meesha Shafi, Mehreen Jabbar, Mohsin Hamid, Nadia Jamil, Rohail Hyatt and Samina Peerzada
Speaking about the selection of Dukhtar, the members have said:
"Dukhtar is a wonderful, impressive film. It shows how quickly Pakistani cinema is progressing." – Mohsin Hamid
"The little girl in Dukhtar - a star is born" – Samina Peerzada
“Dukhtar has set a new precedent in filmmaking in Pakistan. The film's powerful narrative is met with equally strong visuals that collectively showcase what Pakistani talent is all about. I have no doubt that the story will resonate with people locally and internationally." – Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
"Simple yet full of impact. Dukhtar highlights a subject that desperately needs attention. Sensitive yet spirited portrayal of Allah Rakkhi by Samia Mumtaz. The Pakistani landscape is shot with a beautiful eye. Afia Nathanial has arrived." – Meesha Shafi
"Dukhtar is a 'quiet' narrative. Use of day light in Afia's film was refreshing and cinematic. I wish the team best of luck. May Pakistani filmmakers keep making films each year which have their own unique signature style." – Akifa Mian
"Dukhtar is a story told with visually striking images, sensitive characters and most importantly, with a heart. I wish it all my best for its Oscar submission" – Iram Parveen Bilal
"It's an incredibly exciting time for ideas and change in Pakistan to be represented in cinema. The world of communication and visual arts has opened up to us and it's time for us to tell our stories to the rest of the world. Dukhtar is a great way to start. Set against the stunning backdrop of Pakistans Northern and tribal areas, it's a story of courage that the world doesn't usually get to see. The incredibly beautiful, resilient Pakistani women, the world doesn't get to hear or watch in action. Wonderfully shot and lit, with a rich lush local wardrobe and panoramic scenes I'm wishing Dukhtar all the best of luck from my heart!" – Nadia Jamil