Screened as part of NZIFF 2004

Silent Waters 2003

Khamosh Pani

Directed by Sabiha Sumar

France / Germany / Pakistan In Punjabi and Urdu with English subtitles
105 minutes 35mm



Paromita Vohra. Based on a story by Sabiha Sumar


Ralph Netzer


Bettina Böhler


Kirron Kher
Aamir Malik
Navtej Singh Joha
Shilpa Shukla


Locarno, London 2003; Sundance, Rotterdam, San Francisco 2004


A film from Pakistan is a rarity in itself. Pakistani Sabiha Sumar compounds the endangered species status of her intense and lyrical first film by foregrounding the fortunes of women in the political evolution of Pakistan and deploring the rise of fundamentalism. It is the hot summer of 1979 in the beautiful Punjabi village of Charkhi near the Indian border. Ayesha, a widow, lives for her sweet-natured 18-year-old son Saleem. He is in love with the proud and beautiful Zubeidaa who is planning to head for a city college. All seems blissful in the village until the news of General Zia’s coming to power. Two young strangers appear from Lahore preaching revolutionary Islamic values. Their fanaticism is mocked, at first, by the easy-going villagers but Saleem, unaccustomed to the company of men, proves susceptible to their religious fervour. Ayesha tries to intervene. — BG

“Shot, if never shown, in Pakistan… cannily convincing in its view of the social fabric fraying under pressure.” — Michael Atkinson, Village Voice