Screening & Plays

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Abu

‘Abu’ – A film by Arshad Khan

Arshad Khan is a Montreal-based filmmaker and film festival programmer. Khan’s internationally acclaimed, award-winning autobiographical documentary Abu (2017) has played at film festivals around the world and won the INSPIRIT Foundation grant for 2018/19. Abu documents his rocky relationship with his father after Khan came out as a gay man. It also chronicles the wider story of young gay people fighting homophobia and invisibility within South Asian and Muslim cultures.

The film screening, which was held on February 25, 2020, drew a wide and diverse audience from across the city and was followed by a lively discussion with Arshad Khan about his inspiration, the process of making the film, and his experiences screening it around the world. Members of the audience shared their own emotional responses to the film and personal stories, and there was a wider discussion about marginalised sexualities in South Asian cultures including in Pakistan and in the diaspora.

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.

Lights Out

Lights Out

Directed by Fawad Khan

SWGI hosted the play, Lights Out directed by Fawad Khan this semester as well. Fawad Khan graduated from NAPA with a major in direction for stage 2008. Since then he has been consistently doing theatre, and being passionate about all aspects of theatre, he has not only been directing but acting and writing as well. The performers in the play were: Syed Meesam Nazar Naqvi, Kulsoom Aftab Ahmed, Muhammad Farhan Alam Siddiqui, Muhammad Samhan Ghazi, Kiran Siddiqui, and Ayesha Pervaiz

The play was set in the apartment of Laila and Rahat. Every night, they heard screams coming from the compound next to their apartment building. Laila wanted her husband, Rahat, to report the screams to the police, while Rahat did not believe the screams were as loud as Laila was making them out to be. They heard the screams night after night, and swtiched off their lights, to prevent their windows from being broken. After the scene is set, the play then moves on to explore the following questions: what's happening outside? Are the screams real? Is a crime being committed?

The play touches upon themes of violence, patriarchy, apathy, and justice to name a few and this was explored in a panel discussion with the director and Ms. Saleema Hashmi after the performance.