“Qandeel Baloch was a raunchy social media star"
A film based on Qandeel Baloch is set to premiere at the Red Sea Film Festival.
Wakhri is partially inspired by the social media sensation, who was murdered in an honour killing.
Kaleem Aftab, who is the Red Sea Film Festival Head of International Programming, detailed how the film was selected for the festival.
He said: “Well, I don’t want to go out on a limb too much before they are shown, but I think people will be very struck by the new film by Iram Bilal, Wakhri: One of a Kind.
“I feel like that is a film that talks about an incident that happened in Pakistan and is changing the narrative on that.
“I’m also happy to have Zarrar Kahn’s In Flames, also from Pakistan, which changed the genre.
Speaking about the film, Iram said:
“Qandeel Baloch was a raunchy social media star from the poorer masses of Pakistan.
“Unleashing the brave and provocative; wildly popular and wildly hated.
“We learned of her exactly a week before she was brutally murdered… by her brother.
“It was an atypical honour killing because the family was well aware of her ‘ways’ and were also financially gaining from it. It was a new way of experiencing ‘shame’. It was a new kind of ‘lynching’.
“It was an incredibly horrific perfect storm brewing, in huge part, by immense social media trolling and in part by the indefatigable patriarchal society we live in.
“What triggered the writing of this story was her resilient and irreverent spirit.
“We strangely couldn’t stop thinking about her. It was severely personal – this feeling of defeat and the brewing anger that was simmering in our hearts.
“Any woman who owned her story and dared to occupy a public figure avatar in Pakistan, even if online, was hated and silenced.
“All that she would be defined as was in correlation to her father, brother or husband.
“She did not dare speak up or be defined as her person.”
“Further, we observed that while acknowledging Qandeel’s death, some self-identifying feminists shockingly lacked empathy towards her.
“It made us realise that the flawed understanding of ‘honour’ ran far deeper in our culture than we cared to admit. We’d already lost friends to this narrative.
“However, the militant optimist zeitgeist in us did not want to write a story without hope.
“We don’t want to glorify an honour killing. We want to make a film where we gave the Pakistani audience, the world’s audience, a second chance to possibly save her.
“This is the genesis of Wakhri, a fictional story inspired by Qandeel’s story but also not limited to her fight, a study to track the correlation between hate crimes and social media wildfires.
“This film is an ode to all those women in the shadows who were inspired by her bravery. We wish to blow wind beneath the wings of all the women who want to be seen and heard.”