Monday 25 March 2019

Producer Momina Duraid says being a woman helped her in Pakistan’s film industry

Her latest film seeks to challenge negative perceptions about women’s standing in the country.

Pakistani filmmaker Momina Duraid says being a woman helped her succeed in the country’s film industry (HUM Films)
Pakistani filmmaker Momina Duraid says being a woman helped her succeed in the country’s film industry (HUM Films)

By Andrew Arthur, Press Association Entertainment Reporter

An award-winning Pakistani producer has said she has found that being a woman has not disadvantaged her in the country’s growing film industry, in contrast to some of her western peers.

Momina Duarid, 47, is the creative head of the country’s television network Hum TV, which provides over 800 hours of television worldwide.

Her new film Parwaaz Hai Junoon (Soaring Passion) seeks to challenge perceptions that women in Pakistan are largely suppressed in a conservative society and are not allowed to follow their ambitions.

The coming-of-age tale follows the story of a girl who joins the Pakistan Air Force as a pilot to help in the country’s fight against terrorism.

Duraid told the Press Association: “I feel the film is a true depiction of women in Pakistan. There would be certain places in New York, Detroit or Chicago where you would not want to go after a certain hour of night.

“It’s the same case in Pakistan. It’s a normal life. I’m a woman and I’m heading one of the largest production houses in Pakistan.

“I get to work for NGOs on very important subjects such as child rape. Pakistan is allowing me to do this in spite of me being a woman.

“There is ample opportunity for women to pursue their dreams.

“Yes there are people like Malala Yousafzai, but then there are people like me, who are in the majority in the cities.”

Duraid’s countrywoman and fellow filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy has won two Academy Awards for her documentaries Saving Face (2012) and A Girl In The River: The Price of Forgiveness (2016).

The director of Venice Film Festival, Alberto Barbera, was forced to defend the line-up for this year’s competition after it was criticised for including only one film with a female director.

Momina Duraid’s new film tells the story of a woman who becomes a pilot in the Pakistan Air Force. (HUM Films)

Duraid said her and Obaid Chinoy’s success was a testament to how some international perceptions of women’s standing in Pakistani society were skewed.

She said: “People would think that it was very difficult for us as women to come into this industry. That would make a very good story if I had said that.

“But actually that is not true. I believe I had better opportunities to get out and work because I was a woman. I just flew through it.

“A woman in Pakistan has a lot of opportunity to be who she wants to be. Yes, if you talk about remote tribal areas the bad stories are also true and we work on that.”

Parwaaz Hai Junoon is released in cinemas internationally on August 24.

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