Pakistani documentary nominated for award
ABU DHABI, May 19: A Pakistani documentary, “Dinner with the President”, has been nominated for an award in the first international documentary competition, Document Your Talent, being held here.
The documentary, produced by Sabiha Sumar, is among 14 shortlisted by the jury from among 115 entries from the UAE and 21 other countries on diverse subjects — science, nature, society, history and politics.
The competition, with a total prize money of Dh 10 million, has been divided into two categories, Shaikh Zayed and Free Choice.
‘Dinner with the President’ is in the Free Choice category.
Sabiha has earned acclaim for her films which deal with political and social issues such as effects of religious fundamentalism on society, especially on women.
The competition has been organised by Anasy Media Production Company in cooperation with Sama Dubai TV.
The grand jury for the awards comprises Saudi media personality Muna Abu Sulayman, Indian film actress Madhuri Dixit, Toufik Founi of Al Jazeera documentary channel, Khaled Chouket, director of Arab Film Festival, Rotterdam, and journalist Riz Khan.
The 14 nominated documentaries are – Shaikh Zayed category: Dar Zayed’s Hidden Treasures and Nation’s Shattered Legacy from the UAE; and Free Choice category: Guevera A’ash (Egypt), Dinner With the President (Pakistan), Al Ghazali (UK), A Woman from Khyranis (Tunisia), Sugar Dolls (Tunisia), Casablanca: One Way Ticket to Paradise (Tunisia), Shadow of Absence (Palestine), Al Hamdoulillah — Thank My God (UAE), For That (France), Baghdad in Love (Iraq), Fingerprints (Saudi Arabia) and Al Azhar Al Sharif (Egypt).
Sabiha’s ‘Dinner with the President’, which has been directed by Sachithanandam Sathananthan of Sri Lanka, takes the temperature of Pakistani culture on issues from politics to women’s rights. The documentary presents a personal journey and explores Pakistan, a country markedly different from the images projected by the international media.
It probes the varied and diverse mindsets of the people of Pakistan; their understanding and meaning of democracy and their opinion of what the country’s political system offers. What is democracy? What is the place of women in Pakistan’s political system? Have the people of Pakistan ever experienced true democracy?
Set against the background of General Pervez Musharraf’s 1999 coup and the general’s claims to democratise Pakistani society, the film engages the president in a discussion about his vision and his intentions.
The country is wrought with feudal and tribal mindsets and varied interpretations of a religion that people believe dictate regional laws. The majority is blindly loyal to dynastic leaders irrespective of their governing ethics. The common man’s viewpoint of democracy is not about true democracy — the primacy of individual rights.
The journey goes beyond the dinner table conversation into an encounter with the religious parties’ alliance, MMA, to a tribal parliament, to truck drivers, to young elite party-goers, to a Sindhi peasant woman and the general public on the streets.