South Asian Projects
More Than a Father-Ali Haider (Pakistan)
A member of the persecuted Hazara community in Quetta, Pakistan, Ali Haider turns the camera on himself after he survives a bomb blast that also took his father’s life.
Through deeper conversations Ali and his mother revisit the day which changed their lives forever. They intentionally avoided discussing the devastating incident to prevent further psychological and emotionally damages. The mother who never had any experience to be in front of the camera finally pulls the courage on Ali’s request to be in this somehow therapeutic film. Before the making of the documentary she always took solace in the good memories she had spent with her husband, while Ali gained peace by watching her invincible strength. The two characters in the film engage in daily conversations but later confront their fears by opening up to each other.
Growing up as a member of the community facing persecution for decades, and being a survivor of one of those attacks, my own story prompted me to turn the camera on myself as a filmmaker. The incident which took place about a decade ago on the 3rd of September 2010 drastically altered mine and my family’s lives forever. I lost my father and a cousin to a bomb blast that was specifically targeted at my community. Losing a parent can be so profoundly disorienting, that for many years we thought our lives have stopped moving forward. Now that ten years have passed, I have decided to narrate my story as I realize how the incident has changed the whole course of life for my mother.
Although it seems that the current situation is relatively better now, those who lost their loved ones still feel unsafe to live here.
Targeted attacks on the Hazara people in Quetta often make headlines nationwide but remain unheard to the rest of the world. It is an on-going genocidal account that’s requires urgent attention. With an estimated population of 500,000, the Hazara community has lost over 3000 people in different incidents of targeted-killings, bomb blasts and assassinations since 2001. A devout minority group of the Shia sect of Islam with noticeable physical ethnic attributes, we are subject to on-going violence in Quetta, Pakistan and in Afghanistan.
I feel my story needs to be told and heard to the people outside Quetta. My aim is to use this film as a template to encourage others like myself to come forward and tell their unheard stories of all other Hazara families survived by different incident in Quetta Pakistan.
The Film’s artistic approach heavily depends upon the strong relationship of a mother and her son which forged after the killing her husband. Both the characters do not want to let go of their pasts yet remain highly hopeful. Their conversations involve old photographs and how and where those images were captured, and what they now mean to the remaining members of the family.
We see Ali and his mother talking to each other in a quiet environment in their house. The first-floor house which has a tall thin juniper tree downstairs in the yard. The use of brown indoor interior symbolizes warmth and strong bond of the family. The multiple scenes of the graveyard depict uncertainty, reflection and vacuum. Simple compositional choices are kept throughout the film.
Ali’s visit to the Haraza graveyard where his father is buried tries to encapsulate elements such as moving forward, finding inner peace and celebrating his dad’s short life. The cleaning of the portrait signifies meditation or never-ending love and care.
There is a similarity in Ali’s house and the graveyard. Both feel somehow connected to each other amongst the ongoing turmoil Quetta city go through on a daily basis. The camera weaves through home and a place where the dead rest in peace takes a newer meaning after every transition. By the end Ali’s mother’s kind voice, her divine love for her family and optimism guide the viewer back to solid ground and give them the solace they need.
Ali Haider is a filmmaker belonging to the Hazara community based in Quetta, Pakistan. His directorial debut Seven Vertical Miles won the 1st prize in the national-level film competition organized by Deutsche Welle (DW) and DAWN in 2019 and was also a finalist in the Focus on Ability Film Festival, Australia. The film takes viewers on a journey several miles under the ground, deep into the coal mines of the Balochistan province that borders Iran and Afghanistan. Ali has also worked as a cinematographer on a film at the Kartarpur corridor for Deutsche Welle.
Locations: Mariabad, Quetta Balochistan, Pakistan
Total Shooting Days: 29 days till now
Equipment: Sony Camera A7 sii, Sony A7iii, Lenses 50mm – 24-70 mm, 70- 200 mm, ND Filter, Rode Mic, Boya Mic, Tripod
Crew: Ali Haider / Asef Ali Mohammad / Habib Qasimi
The first shoot of the project started in Mid December 2020 and following my character with giving her break due to her health. There will be some major events which I have to shoot in future, according to my schedule the shoot of this project will be finish at the end of this year.
Full Project Timeline
First Shooting Period – Dates 15th December 2020 -21th December 2020
Second Shooting Period – 4th January – 10th January 2021
Third Shooting Period – 16th January – 20th January 2021
Fourth Shooting Period – 30th January – 4th February 2021
Fifth Shooting Period – 13th February – 17th February 2021
Sixth Shooting Period – 13th May – 15th May 2021
More shoot days will be held accordingly.
Start Editing –
Assembly and Scene Selects Editing – January 2022
Rough Cut Editing – Mid Feburary 2022
Fine Cut Editing – April 2022
Final Film Delivery – May 2022
Estimated Budget: 30,000 USD
The idea I started to develop at August 2020 and working in Pre-production for few months. The actual production shoot I started in December 2020 and continuously shooting every month. After shooting of 29 days now I realize to develop more my idea and film. The production status is now on developing the idea more and giving more time to the film.