Friday 10th October, 6.30pm – Ritzy
Tuesday 14th October, 1pm – ICA
Set in the mountainous region of Pakistan, Director Afia Nathaniel gives women their voice in this tale of one woman’s courage amid oppression.
Dukhtar tells the story of a young mother who risks her life to protect her 10-year-old daughter from an arranged marriage to an ageing and tyrannical leader of another tribe, in order to bring peace between two communities. “Dukhtar” means daughter and Nathaniel’s film highlights the repressive lives many daughters face in remote villages and even deep within the recesses of Middle Eastern cities. Men barter women, often extremely young girls, like chattels. In the western world, it is almost impossible to fathom what it would be like to live in such a patriarchal society; in an existence to serve men, without an education, without a voice. The reality of such malpractice makes Dukhtar all the more poignant.
Well-acted and beautifully written, Dukhtar thrills and stirs. One scene that overspills with tenderness and sincerity is early on in the film where daughter Zaineb tries to teach her mother, Allah Rakhi, how to read and write; not only does it set the tone for Allah’s veiled ambitions for her daughter, the acting is so natural and raw it holds the audience spellbound. Later, Nathaniel is not afraid to rouse strong emotions by shooting Zaineb’s preparation for marriage. Scenes of Allah framing her daughter’s face with a traditional red and gold wedding garb as she fiddles with a doll brings home the unjustness of this practice. Nor is Nathaniel afraid to grapple with the idea that a persecuted married woman can begin another relationship with a kind, liberal man.
Fraught with tension, this film is so much at once. Mingling light-hearted moments, twists and turns with beautiful cinematography, Dukhtar will entertain and mesmerise. There is no doubt that Nathaniel has pandered to both the indie and commercial film market and, as a result, there are what seem to be obvious markers to move the story along, causing some of the plot to be a little predictable. However, it is arguable that this hybrid was necessary to appeal to the mass market and, well, who could deny such an affecting story that?
Dukhtar is released in Ritz and ICA on 10th and 14th October 2014.
For further information about the BFI London Film Festival visit here.
Read more reviews from the festival here.
Watch the trailer for Dukhtar here: