Jemima Khan (“What’s Love Got to Do With It?”) and Jaime Ray Newman (“Dopesick”) have joined Seemab Gul’s Oscar-qualifying short film “Sandstorm” as executive producers.
A coming-of-age story centering on a Pakistani schoolgirl named Zara, “Sandstorm” navigates the “complicated terrain of Internet dating in a conservative Muslim society,” according to the tagline, and questions “the objectification of the body feminine and their relationship honor in Pakistani culture”.
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In the short, Zara sends her virtual boyfriend a “sexy dance video” which he then uses to blackmail her. “Caught between her manipulative behavior and the desire to experience love on her own terms, Zara seeks the strength to reject the confines of a patriarchal society,” she reads in the synopsis.
The short garnered top awards at the Rhode Island and HollyShorts Film Festivals.
The film is written, directed and co-produced by Gul, a London-based Pakistani artist and filmmaker with a BA in Fine Art and an MFA in Film from the London Film School. It is produced by Abid Aziz Merchant with photography by Alberto Balazs.
Newman won the Oscar for best live action short film in 2019 alongside her husband Guy Nattive for “Skin.” Khan’s directorial debut, “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” premiered at TIFF last month. She was also an executive producer on the documentary “We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks.”
“Seemab Gul has created a beautiful and moving piece of art that in just 20 minutes immerses you in the nuanced life that young women around the world must endure in restrictive societies,” said Newman. “As a mother of two young daughters, I know how lucky they are to live in a country that allows them freedom of expression, but I also know how easily those rights can be taken away from them. ‘Sandstorm’ is a silent and moving battle cry, a film that must be seen around the world and I am honored to participate.”
Khan said: Seemab Gul’s “Mulaqat” (“Sandstorm”) artfully explores themes that are specific to conservative cultures like Pakistan but also universally relevant and relatable to all women: the objectification of the female body and the vulnerability of young women. online. Having lived in Pakistan for a decade and with two half-Pakistani children, I am delighted to support such a powerful film from one of the country’s most talented young filmmakers.”
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