Pakistani films and filmmakers have been making waves internationally, as Saim Sadiq’s Darling is set to become the first Pakistani film to screen at the prestigious Venice Film Festival, the world’s oldest film festival.

Darling, set in a dance theatre in Lahore where the story revolves around a young boy and a trans girl, is the first ever Pakistani film to be an official selection and screen at any of the ‘Big Three’ film festivals. The Big Three is a term used for the three most prestigious film festivals in the world namely Cannes, Berlin and Venice. This is an incredible feat for a Pakistani filmmaker, especially with a film that revolves around a trans character.

The film’s cast includes upcoming actress Mehar Bano and Nadia Afgan of Suno Chanda and Shaslik fame. The main leads are Shani, played by Abdullah Malik, and Alina, played by Alina, a trans girl from Lahore who makes her acting debut with this film. The film’s director Saim Sadiq is a 28-year-old filmmaker from Lahore. He is currently completing his graduate degree in film directing from Columbia University in New York.

Before this, Sadiq’s short film Nice Talking to You was an official selection at South by Southwest 2019, Palm Springs International Shortsfest 2019 and won Vimeo’s Best Director award at Columbia University Film Festival 2018. Sadiq is currently developing a pilot for MakeReady in Los Angeles and working on his first feature, Gulaab, which was selected for the Open Doors Hub at the 2018 Locarno Film Festival.

Mahak Jiwani (also a Columbia graduate and producer of Premonition and Congratulations) and Nadia Afgan produce while co-producers include and Fahad Nabi and Jasmin Tennuci. Mo Azmi, who produced and shot Cake and Laal Kabootar, was the Director of Photography for Darling.

Darling’s world premiere will take place at Venice in September 2019.


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