Pakistani film ‘The Losing Side’ has bagged the ‘Best Human Rights Film Award’ at Cannes Film Festival.
The movie is based on true events and focuses on the significant issue of forced religious conversion in Sindh as per movie director Jawad Sharif.
He took to social media to announce the news, writing:
‘Such good news on the last day of 2022. Our film The Losing Side has won the Best Human Rights Film Award at @cannesworldfilmfestival Thank you, everyone, for being part of this journey @mukeshmeghwar @syedakashmala @mariapeapod @asifali5_14 @zain_idrees_ch’
Talking about the thought behind the project, Mr Sharif told Dawn the idea was to make a film on the heritage and culture of minorities and how they are preserving it.
Minority communities like Hindus and Christians in Sindh face the issues of religious conversions which are sometimes by choice, while some are forced, Mr Sharif said. In many cases, he added, underage Hindu girls are kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam, and then married to Muslim men.
The Losing Side recounts the daunting tale of 4 women – Vahitoo, Simran, Keeran and Reena – who have been “victims of forced conversion and forced marriage.” The film follows through the perspective of various activists, politicians and legal experts who help further the “conversation as to why such barbaric practices continue on a daily basis”.
“The alarming and inhumane pattern of forced conversion of Hindu women in Sindh is an issue that has only been talked about in opinions and discourse. While some victims prefer to not come in the spotlight, others are willing to come forward and speak about their experience, if it helps even one other person not go through the same thing.” Sharif noted.
The alarming and inhumane pattern of forced conversion of Hindu women in Sindh is an issue that has only been talked about in opinions and discourse. While some victims prefer to not come in the spotlight, others are willing to come forward and speak about their experience, if it helps even one other person not go through the same thing.”
As per the 2021 Human Rights Commission of Pakistan report, at least 27 alleged forced conversion cases were reported from Sindh, with most victims belonging to “low-caste or scheduled-caste Hindus and Christians”. The commission added in the report that 7 of the cases involved minors.
Earlier, the film was also nominated at the Barcelona Human Rights Film Festival but fell short of winning the award. According to Mr Sharif, these awards serve a bigger purpose, more than mere recognition, “I believe this award is more meaningful as it will give space to a sensitive issue in the mainstream media,” he said.
According to him, such festivals and events are important to present a “counter-narrative and narrative of resistance..No one is free until we all are. I hope that this documentary opens our eyes to push for structural and immediate reform.” He concluded.
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