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Last year, Pakistan re-entered the Oscar race — after a more than 50-year absence — in an effort to bring attention to the country’s cinematic output. Their best foreign-language submission, illegal immigration comedy Zinda Bhaag, failed to earn a nomination.
The country is hopeful once again, submitting Afia Nathaniel’s Dukhtar to the foreign-language Oscar race. The Urdu-language film is a road-trip thriller looking at issues of child marriage in the country.
After her 10-year-old daughter is promised in marriage to a much older tribal chieftain, her mother takes the girl and flees her village, only to be chased by her own husband and the intended groom’s henchman. It’s set against stunning backdrops on the road to Lahore.
The film had its world premiere Sept. 5 at the Toronto International Film Festival this year in the Discovery section and is releasing theatrically in Pakistan Thursday.
The Pakistani selection committee is chaired by Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who said of the film, “Dukhtar has set a new precedent in filmmaking in Pakistan. The film’s powerful narrative is met with equally strong visuals that collectively showcase what Pakistani talent is all about. I have no doubt that the story will resonate with people locally and internationally.”
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