UNITED NATIONS: A screening of Afia Nathaniel’s feature film Dukhtar was held at the United Nations on Wednesday evening before a large and distinguished audience. Organized by Pakistan’s Mission to the UN, it was a side event in the spacious Trusteeship Council Chamber during the 61th annual session of the Commission on Status of Women (CSW). The Deputy Executive Director of UN women, Lakshmi Puri, was present, as was Ms. Khawar Mumtaz, Chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women and leader of Pakistan’s delegation to CSW. Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi introduced Ms Mumtaz and film director Afia Nathaniel to the gathering. There was spontaneous applause when the ambassador said that Ms. Mumtaz was also the mother of actress Samiya Mumtaz, the main character in the movie. In his remarks, Ambassador Lodhi said that Pakistani film industry revival is being spearheaded by young film makers who were producing an incredibly diverse and entertaining array of movies with a social message.
Ms. Mumtaz said that her daughter was a dedicated actress and starred in movies with an inspirational message. Ms. Nathaniel said that the film was about mother’s love and sacrifice to save her daughter from a child marriage. The film was much appreciated by the audience, which included ambassadors, diplomats and UN officials. Last year, Oscar-winning Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s documentary “A Girl in the River” was screened to coincide with CSW. Since assuming charge as Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to UN, Ambassador Lodhi has undertaken several cultural projects and organized a series of events to promote Pakistan’s soft image and highlight its modern and vibrant culture but also its ancient civilizational roots. The Pakistan Mission, under her leadership, organized Pakistan Film Festival and a “Sufi Night” at the UN General Assembly hall to mark Pakistan Day last year featuring Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. She also organized an Exhibition of Contemporary Art from Pakistan at the UN, which showcased some of the best works of art to demonstrate how Pakistan is becoming a powerhouse of creativity. She was also instrumental in bringing the Lahore Literary Festival to the Asia Society in New York.