Sabiha Sumar: Silent Waters (Khamosh Pani)

Silent Waters (Khamosh Pani), Sabiha Sumar, 95’, France / Germany / Pakistan, ZDF 9.1.2007, OV with English subtitles

The partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 and the ensuing violence between Hindus and Muslims left millions dead, displaced and missing. Karachi-born filmmaker Sabiha Sumar dedicates her first feature film to the women affected by the violence. It is the year 1979: Ayesha, a widow, lives with her son in the countryside. Pakistan is on the brink of state Islamisation. When Sikh pilgrims come to the village for the first time after Partition, it emerges that Ayesha was abducted as a young woman. “I could empathise with the pain of the women,” says Sumar, “who had to profess the religion of their abductors and give birth to their children. I realised that I could not subject an abducted woman to public exposure. But the story had to be told. It had to be a feature film.”

Sabiha Sumar (*1961) is a Pakistani director and producer, one of the few independent filmmakers from Pakistan whose works are known internationally. Her documentary and feature films, often dedicated to feminist themes, have been screened at Sundance and Locarno and awarded the Golden Leopard, among others. In cooperation with Das kleine Fernsehspiel, she made the documentary film Of Mothers, Mice and Saints (1994) and the feature films Silent Waters – Khamosh Pani (2007) and Good Morning Karachi (2013).