Sindhi short film makes it to five international festivals

Written and directed by filmmaker-journalist Rahul AIjaz, A Train Crosses the Desert aims to revive regional language cinema

By Buraq Shabbir

KARACHI: Creatives across Pakistan have expressed the desire to create more content that caters to audiences from various regions. Whether it is television, films or theatre, they are trying to make room for exploration beyond the national language. The recently held Awami Theatre Festival 2020 offered plays in provincial languages which was a commendable move. Recently, filmmaker-journalist Rahul Aijaz made a Sindhi short film that is yet to release in Pakistan but has already made it to five international film festivals. Titled A Train Crosses the Desert, the film aims to open doors for more films in a regional language.

Here’s the trailer of the film, made as part of Film Talents II – Voices from Pakistan and Afghanistan by Goethe Institute, Pakistan.

Written and directed by Rahul Aijaz, A Train Crosses the Desert has so far made it to the Asian Film Festival, CMX – Itinerant Film Exhibition MX (Mexico), 8th Silk Road International Film Awards (Turkey), LIFFT India Filmotsav (India) and South Asian International Film Festival (NYC). Once the festival run ends, the filmmaker is planning to release it online and/or screen at local festivals by next year.

Read: Bench gets nominated for the first Cannes International Independent Film Festival

When asked why he felt the need to make a short in Sindhi, he responded that nobody has done that before. “I feel it is important to develop a regional cinema that gives a unique identity to Pakistan’s film industry,” he explained. “Everybody should have films to watch in their regional language. I want to push for regional cinema; the film has had a bit of success and I hope it brings a spotlight on having the need for regional cinema.”

Read: Ali Gul Pir attempts to revive Sindhi language with his new song ‘Hut Paray’

Filmmaker Rahul Aijaz also plans to make a feature-length film in Sindhi within a couple of years. Coming back to A Train Crosses the Desert, he shared that it explores the universal themes of grief, loss, music and death. He has dedicated the film to his cousin brother Farooq Ahmed, who lost his battle with cancer in 2018. He is the reason behind the film.

“The response I’ve gotten from filmmakers within and outside Pakistan has been overwhelming,” he furthered. “The film does not intend to serve a single purpose but leave it on viewers to take away whatever touches them.”

The filmmaker also revealed that they shot the film in a day and were very low on budget. The cast including Tariq Raja, Nadia Hussain and Arshad Shaikh were commendable and did their best despite limitations. Rahul is very thankful to them and hopes the actors get the recognition they deserve. We wish the team best of luck!

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