Watch the winning films of 'Our Diverse Pakistan' video story contest

These documentary films put the spotlight on Pakistan’s undiscovered heroes and won prizes worth over Rs2 million.
Published November 24, 2019

Top three winners

The first three films take home Rs500,000, Rs300,000, and Rs200,000 as prize money, respectively.

First Prize - Seven vertical miles

This film by Ali Haider, Ali Baloch, Hassan Zia and Zeeshan Haider takes the viewers on a journey several miles under the ground, deep into the coal mines in Balochistan. These coal mines are approximately 3,700 ft deep, and the workers travel in and out through manual rail-carts while risking their lives every single day.

For members of the Hazara community working in the mines though, life is equally hard both above and below the ground.

"Just BRILLIANT. WOW." — Filmmaker Jamshed "Jami" Mahmood

"Seven Vertical Miles takes the viewer on an unexpected journey to meet these unique gents who are a part of Pakistan. Truly diverse!" — Filmmaker Babar Sheikh

Second Prize - The disgustful

Waleed Akram, Sheikh Mubashir, Mariam Hassan Naqvi and Hammad Javed take you through a day in the life of Shareef Maseeh, a sweeper in Lahore, in this brilliantly shot film titled The Disgustful. Shareef has been cleaning the waste off Lahore's streets for the last 35 years, but is still awaiting the respect and acknowledgment he deserves from the community and his country.

"The Disgustful has true meaning; story well-told, portrait well-made, many issues of life addressed with this single narrative. Well-crafted through stylisation." — Babar Sheikh

Third Prize - Boxing against all odds

Aliya Soomro from Lyari boxes like a champion and dreams of winning an Olympic gold for Pakistan one day. Fahad Kahut, Ahsan Khan and Saad Abbasi document her journey in this fast-paced film that has many a inspirational lessons for aspiring athletes in the country.

Boxing against all odds is a story of passion and fire well told but equally fiery visuals and super paced editing that compliments the narrative itself. Many stories about talent hailing from Lyari have been told in the recent past but this retains its freshness with its unique approach to the subject." — Babar Sheikh

"Fantastic story" — Jami

Honourable mentions

Two outstanding films were recognised as the honourable mentions and each won Rs100,000 as prize money.

Honourable Mention 1 - Manhun Megh Malhar

Mubarak Ali Mallah shares his collection and love for gramophone records in this beautifully shot film by Halar Khoso, Uzair Shah and Danial Shah. Mallah, who lives in a small town named Tarai, 20 kilometres away from Badin in Sindh, cherishes his love for old, classic songs playing on his gramophone while repairing old radios.

"Manhun Megh Malhar is from the heart! It touches the soul, this is a true depiction of Our Diverse Pakistan in my opinion. People like Mubarak Ali Mallah are the only living testimony from a past life where love reigned supreme. He is a warrior of rhythm, melody and memory." — Babar Sheikh

Honourable Mention 2 - Nastoor

Nostalgia reigns supreme in this documentary film by Saad Ali Gill, Fatimah Saad Gill, Majid Cheema, Ammar Siddique and Chaand as Ainak Wala Djinn (Shehzad Qaiser) takes centre stage and shares his story following the end of the popular kids show that ran on Pakistan Television in the early 90s.

"Nastoor harps beautifully upon the pain faced by artists all over Pakistan. It tells the story of a once legend now lost to the contemporary culture." — Babar Sheikh

Social media prizes

The contest also invited filmmakers to publish their photos and short films on social media with the hashtag #OurDiversePakistan and compete for two prizes of Rs55,000 each. The following two entries were picked as winners in the social media contest.

Social media prize 1: Daulat

In this film, Mashal Khan Balti, Athar Wazir, Amanullah Khan, Amar Chan, Tahir and Kazim Raza Wazeer take the viewers to a small village in Chorbat Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan to meet a local farmer, Rustam Ali. Despite the increasing rate of female dropouts from schools and colleges in this area, Rustam takes his daughter to school everyday after crossing a variety of hurdles and landscapes.

Social media prize 2: Ikhtiyar

Iqbal Bai drives a rikshaw in Lahore everyday to provide for her family, but her journey has been anything but easy. She shares her story in this short film titled Ikhtiyar by Kisa Ali Jafri, Samar Abbas, Asjad Waqar, Abdullah Jutt and Sheraz Aqeel.

Chance to work with DW Documentary

Three lucky teams from the top 10 finalists were also selected to work with DW Documentary to produce a 12-15 minutes long documentary film and won a prize of Rs330,000 each. These documentary films will be released on DW Documentary's official YouTube channel later. The winners are:

  • Ali Haider, Ali Baloch, Hassan Zia and Zeeshan Haider from Quetta who shot the film Seven Vertical Miles.
  • Aiman Saleem, Zubair Yousaf, Behroz Sohail, Musab Abbasi, Sardar Hammad, Mohammad Ilyas and Saleem Ud Din from Rawalpindi who shot the film Sikandar Rikshaw Wala.
  • Alexander Volberding and Ihtesham Ismail from New Orleans, USA and Manchester UK who shot the film Kabaddi.

It Happens Only In Pakistan is a nationwide video story contest organised by and Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany's international broadcaster. This time, the theme for the contest was sharing stories under the hashtag #OurDiversePakistan, and invited filmmakers from all over Pakistan to submit short documentary-styled videos that captured stories of unsung, unique Pakistani heroes. Jury for the contest included noted Pakistani documentary filmmakers Jami and Babar Sheikh. The contest accepted entries from July 5 to August 25, 2019.