Award-winning director Afia Nathaniel’s first independent feature, Dukhtar is a film about a mother and her ten-year-old daughter, who flee their home on the eve of the girl’s marriage to a tribal leader.
The much-awaited Pakistani film, which disappointed fans when they heard the announcement of a delay in the film’s release, will now be having its World Premiere in Toronto on September 5, 2014 as an Official Selection of the Toronto International Film Festival in their Discovery section. It will be followed by its theatrical release in leading cinemas and film houses nationwide on September 18, 2014, according to a press release.
The film is featured in the Discovery programme of the festival, which showcases feature films by first and second time directors from around the world. This year approximately 25% of filmmakers in the Discovery programme are women.
“It’s a great honour for a Pakistani film to be selected for Toronto. We hope audiences all over the world get to enjoy this beautiful film with a beautiful heart. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry. It will make you sit on the edge of the seat until the very last scene of the film. I am so looking forward to bringing Dukhtar home, right after Toronto,” said Nathaniel, the writer, director and co-producer of the film.
Dukhtar was shot in a month in below freezing conditions on the world’s highest altitude roads. 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 film revolves aound the pressing issue of child marriage through the setup of a road-trip thriller that explores the intense drama of a mother’s frantic search for a new life for her daughter with the help of ex-Mujahid truck driver, played by Mohib Mirza.
“TIFF is dedicated to presenting strong contemporary stories from around the world, and Afia Nathaniel’s Dukhtar is precisely that: a beautifully photographed, compelling story that is universally accessible. We are pleased to present the film in our Discovery section, where we aim to draw attention to this year’s most exciting emerging directorial talents, a category into which Afia Nathaniel most certainly fits,” said Jane Schoettle, Programmer for Toronto International Film Festival [TIFF].
The film’s ensemble cast includes Samyia Mumtaz, Mohib Mirza, Saleha Aref, Asif Khan, Ajab Gul, Adnan Shah (Tipu), Abdullah Jan, Samina Ahmed and Omair Rana.
“This is an incredibly proud and humbling moment for us all. This is the first time a Pakistani film made by Pakistanis is going to be showcased in the world’s most popular film festival. The talent of our local cast and crew will now be seen on the big screen by the rest of the world,” said the producer of Dukhtar, Muhammad Khalid Ali.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2014.
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