Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy premiered her much-anticipated animated short film Sitara: Let Girls Dream at Nueplex cinema, DHA yesterday evening amidst much fanfare. Notable names from the fraternity like Ayesha Omar, Sanam Saeed, Zahid Ahmed, Ushna Shah, Adeel Hussain and many others attended the event.
The story of Sitara revolves around the idea of forced child marriages in Pakistan. The movie had been in the works for the last two years and was showcased at various international platforms. Finally, it has been released, in partnership with Netflix, becoming the first-ever Netflix original from Pakistan. The short film has also received international acclaim, winning Best Produced Screenplay, Best Music Score and the Humanitarian Award at the Los Angeles Animation Festival 2019.
Sitara is a 15-minute silent animated film and the makers relied completely on the visuals and sound effects. For the music, Sharmeen collaborated with Grammy and Emmy Award-winning music composer Laura Karpman. Her aim with this collaboration was to tell the story largely through the emotion of Karpman’s score.
It is about a young girl who dreamed of becoming a pilot. Her father, however, arranges her marriage with a much older man and she is forced to oblige. The father realizes his mistake only after he has married his daughter off. During the ending credits, they show the father encouraging the younger daughter who then ends up becoming a pilot.
“Our aim is to educate audiences in a way that it doesn’t take one daughter’s sacrifice for the parents to realize and not make the same mistake with the second daughter. We hope to save all the elder daughters as well,” said one of the producers of the film.
Child marriage is a pressing issue in Pakistan with 21% of girls married off before the age of 18. According to UNICEF, Pakistan has the sixth-highest number of absolute child brides in the world. It has been the topic of many conversations and controversies in the last few years. It seems that people do not give enough importance to a girl’s dreams, which sparks another debate about equal opportunities. With this movie, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s animated film company, Waadi Animations, will go around the country and screen it on a mobile cinema to rural audiences. Their aim is to get the movie to the people whom it is intended for.
“If you think there are specific areas that we should go to, please send in your suggestions,” Sharmeen said in a speech after the screening.
The film can now be viewed on Netflix. Meanwhile, you can watch the trailer here: