A silent short film from Pakistan, Sitara: Let Girls Dream opens to a bursting and colourful backdrop. Two sisters, Pari and Mehr build paper planes on the roof of their home. As the plane soars high above, so does teenager Pari’s dream of becoming a pilot and taking her younger sister with her on the journey. However, just as it comes back down, we are reminded that not all dreams reach fruition. Pari’s father hands her an embroidered slipper and her mother’s sorrowful look says it all. Pari will be married off at a tender age, and her dreams will just remain so.
From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Sitara is a beautiful animated portrait of an alarming truth. Millions of girls are forced into child marriages to this day, and not just in orthodox communities. On International Women’s Day, this film is an important reminder that we must not only address the prevalence of but also bring about a change in society when it comes to such regressive practices. Having it on a global platform like Netflix makes the film more accessible to a variety of cultures which may resonate with the universality of the story.
Told only in the form of its visuals and powerful background score, Sitara’s biggest strength is that its music and expressions drive the story. The silence of the film, the inability of its women to have an agency within their own life seems to pop out on the screen. The animation is top-notch too, where you feel pain and disappointment along with the two girls, simply by the solemnity of their face. Laura Karpman’s melody reaches heights of joyful youth as Pari and Mehr go one in their daily play and even echoes the melancholy of them succumbing to tradition. While some dreams never reach fruition, the credits roll to tell another story. Everything comes together beautifully and you will be left with a smile on your face.
I am impressed by how easily and uniquely such a simple but common story was told. Even though the overall effect is still bittersweet, I was still left pleasantly surprised and inspired at the same time. Not to mention, the film is visually stunning. We rarely get animated stories which represent South Asian culture so accurately.
Recommended highly because it is just the kind of poignant sentimentality that is needed for us on Women’s Day. And for its thought-provoking concept, one that should be shared with the whole family.
Rating: 4/5 Stars