Screening: Documentary Shows Faces of 'Tomorrow's' Pakistan
New York audiences have a major opportunity to learn about contemporary Pakistan this week when Asia Society New York screens the documentary The Other Half of Tomorrow, a composite portrait of several Pakistani women working to change their country. Through seven linked chapters, the documentary introduces us to the disparate contexts that make up a complex culture — from a women's rights' workshop in a village in rural Punjab, to an underground dance academy in Karachi, to the playing fields of the Pakistan Women's Cricket Team.
A family collaboration, the film is produced, directed and photographed by the late Pakistani-American visual artist and author Samina Quraeshi; her daughter, filmmaker and author Sadia Shepard; and Shepard's husband, cinematographer Andreas Burgess.
Asia Society co-presented The Other Half of Tomorrow on the opening night of the 2012 Margaret Mead Film Festival in New York City. Prior to that screening, Shepard shared some insights into the film in a wide-ranging Asia Society interview:
Perhaps the most pervasive stereotype regarding Pakistani women, at least in the West, is that they are downtrodden, submissive, and timid. One of the most exhilarating parts of the filmmaking process was to meet time and time again women who were confident, empowered, and overwhelmingly positive. We feel a keen desire to help these stories get heard and to balance out the reductive ways in which people outside of Pakistan see the country, and especially its female population.
Shepard also spoke about why it was important to her to focus on Pakistan's national women's cricket team:
Here's a group of young women determined to put Pakistan in the news for something other than terrorism and sectarian strife, who are very focused on how cricket and their visibility as female role models can help the women around them. They also look, sound and move through the world in a way that's radically different from dominant perceptions of women in Pakistan. Our film about Captain Sana Mir profiles a dynamic young leader passionate about sports as a platform for women's empowerment.
Video: Trailer for The Other Half of Tomorrow (2 min., 19 sec.)