‘Sitara: Let Girls Dream’, Oscar Winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy‘s Animated Film About Barriers That Young Girls Face in Pakistan
To find true purpose and mission requires ultimate passion, commitment and conviction. This is demonstrated by Oscar-winning filmmaker and activist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who has made the fight for women’s rights and issues her life mission. “Sitara: Let Girls Dream”, an animated film about the cultural barriers and obstacles that women face in Pakistan, will be the first Pakistani short film to be streamed on Netflix.
Pari a young teenager who dreams of becoming a pilot one day, has her hopes and dreams crushed by harsh social mandates, as she is a child bride about to be married off by her father. The story is seen through the eyes of Merh, Pari’s little sister, who is too young to understand the centuries-old Pakistani traditions and the strict obligations that continue to be imposed on girls.
The movie has already won the best screenplay, best music score and humanitarian awards at the LA Animation Festival 2019.
Before the movie came to life, Shameen and her team carried out in-depth research and found that the vast majority of girls forced to marry to older men sadly regret not being able to achieve their dreams, taken out of school and forced into a life they are too young to understand. They are required to give up school and give up their dreams of becoming doctors, artists, lawyers or to pursue any desired professional or personal path.
In an interview, Sharmeen said that Pari wants to become a pilot, “When her aspirations are cut off and she is married to an older man, there’s a moment when you realize that her dreams will never take flight, that’s how the premise of the film evolved.”
“Sitara: Let Girls Dream” is a story made and developed at home by Waadi Animations, the production company established by Sharmeen in Pakistan. As she expressed in “Sitara: “The Making of”, there was a need for children “to see positive stories that reflect themselves on the big screen.”
The lack of high-tech equipment and modern hardware was a huge challenge for the production team. They worked hard for approximately 15 months, facing multiple obstacles such as electricity outages and server breakdowns. However, they persevered and even spent nights at the office working overtime to achieve their artistic and social goals. In addition, since there is no dialogue in the film, they had to make a concerted effort to allow the characters to shine through their actions and expressions only.
From a very early age and throughout her life, Sharmeen has been a committed storyteller, artist and activist seeking to illuminate the cultural taboos that still endure in a large number of contemporary societies.
In another interview, Sharmeen declared that “More than a film, it is a movement that we want to start across the world that encourages parents to invest in their girls’ dreams, freeing their daughters from the burdens of early marriage.”
There’s a pilot aching to fly inside every girl child and thanks to Sharmeen, many girls may be able to wake up to that dream and become aware of a sky full of rights and opportunities.
Sitara: Let Girls Dream streams on Netflix on March 8, 2020.