After Sabeen premieres in Karachi

September 30, 2019

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SABEEN Mahmud in a scene of the film.—White Star
SABEEN Mahmud in a scene of the film.—White Star

KARACHI: After screenings in Germany last month, director Schokofeh Kamiz finally brought her documentary After Sabeen to Karachi.

Ms Kamiz, an Iranian-German filmmaker, felt inspired to make a film about the late Sabeen Mahmud after hearing about her death.

In 2015, Sabeen, who ran T2F, hosted a controversial event on enforced disappearances titled ‘Unsilencing the Baloch’. She was shot dead a few minutes after leaving the venue. Her mother was also injured in the attack.

Watching Sabeen Mahmud on the big screen and hearing her voice after 53 months was emotional for the audience

The film, which is observational, looks at Sabeen’s life through her mother, Mahenaz Mahmud, friends Seema, Mohammad Hanif and Marvi Mazhar.

Watching Sabeen on the big screen and hearing her voice after 53 months was emotional for the audience. The film opened with Ms Kamiz watching one of Sabeen’s last interviews with In Transit where she says: “I’m often asked by journalists, aren’t you afraid?” Her reply: “I’m not afraid” echoed in the cinema hall as several pairs of eyes were glued to the screen at Capri Cinema on Sunday morning.

Some of the most powerful parts of the film were the simplest — Sabeen’s mother watering the Amaltas tree, Mahenaz and Jadoo the cat, Seema talking about Sabeen and the first time Mazhar met Sabeen at a conference in 2013.

When the film was over, many people left the screening with tears in their eyes. The event was held in collaboration with the Goethe Institut Pakistan.

A question and answer session was held afterwards with journalist Ziad Zafar as moderator joined by Ms Kamiz, Mahenaz and journalist Zarrar Khuhro.

Before the screening, Goethe Institut’s Stefan Winkler said that when he arrived in Karachi four years ago in June, he felt that everyone was still in shock of Sabeen’s death and “that’s why we thought it would be important to have a premiere in Karachi”.

“When I heard about her…what happened, I was fascinated,” she said while talking to a packed audience at the cinema during the Q/A session. She added that the night Sabeen was killed, she ended up talking to a mutual friend for seven hours that night. She just knew she had to make a film about her.

Talking about the film, Sabeen’s mother recalled the time Ms Kamiz approached her regarding the project. “She told me she was fascinated. She didn’t have money or a storyline. All she knew is that she wanted to make a film on Sabeen. That resonated with me,” she said.

After Sabeen will be part of the official selection of two international film festivals: South Asian Film Festival of Montréal — SAFFM (October) and Film Southasia in Nepal (November).

Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2019