After Sabeen

‘After Sabeen’ – a film by Schokofeh Kamiz


SWGI screened the documentary, After Sabeen, followed by a discussion with the director, Schokofeh Kamiz, and Sabeen's mother, Mahenaz Mahmud. In the wake of Sabeen Mahmud’s murder, the director followed her mother and friends to record not only their memories and grief but their ongoing impetus to continue Sabeen’s work.

Schokofeh, an Iranian filmmaker, used to be a video journalist, and After Sabeen is her first documentary. On the occasion of Sabeen’s murder, Schokofeh recalls sitting with one her friends who knew Sabeen. She observed how shattered he was and closely listened to what he had to say about Sabeen and her work. What inspired Schokofeh the most is how Sabeen not only opened up a space for having difficult conversations on a broad range of issues but also how she, in her everyday life touched the lives of so many. The documentary focuses on documenting how Sabeen is remembered rather than focusing on bringing forth shots featuring Sabeen. Schokofeh shares how this was a deliberate choice as she wanted to bring across the impact Sabeen had on people and the legacy she leaves behind.

Mahenaz shares her thoughts as Sabeen’s mother and someone who believes in the principles for which, her daughter worked tirelessly and bravely. She talked about how as her mother she never wanted to pass on the anxiety and fear she was made to internalise as a young woman. She wanted Sabeen to feel free and to do the things she wanted to do. She shared that she would raise her the same way and give her the same freedom of chasing her ideals and opening up space for others even if the consequence were to be the same.

When asked about how people from varying progressive political affiliations lay claim to Sabeen, Mahenaz responded, “It is difficult to put Sabeen in a box. I don’t refute people laying claim to her and sharing what they thought of her because I realise that she meant different things to different people and I am most grateful for that”.

The documentary was met with a lot of tears, joy, and praise. The sorrow of the audience was soon turned into celebration with audience members sharing their feelings and stories about Sabeen.