Sandstorm (Mulaqat)

78th Venice International Film Festival

Orizzonti 2021 (Official Selection)

Sundance Film Festival

London 2022 (Official Selection)

Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival 2022

(Grand Prize Best Live Action)

HollyShorts Film Festival 2022

(Best Live Action)

Zara, a schoolgirl in Karachi, Pakistan, shares a sensual dance video with her virtual boyfriend, who then blackmails her. Caught between his manipulative behaviour and the desire to experience love on her own terms, Zara searches for the strength to reject the confines of a patriarchal society.

Written and directed by Seemab Gul, Sandstorm (Mulaqat) is a coming-of-age story that navigates the tricky terrain of internet dating in a conservative Muslim society. The film questions the objectification of the female body and its relationship to honour in Pakistani culture. Sandstorm premiered at the 78th Venice International Film Festival and was produced by Seemab Gul and Abid Aziz Merchant, and executive produced by Christopher Granier-Deferre, Mehnaz Alavi Diwan, Jaime Ray Newman and Jemima Khan.

“Seemab Gul’s ‘Mulaqat’ (‘Sandstorm’) artfully explores themes which are both specific to conservative cultures like Pakistan but also universally relevant and relatable for all women – the objectification of the female body and the vulnerability of young women online” said Khan. “Having lived in Pakistan for a decade, and with two half Pakistani sons, I am delighted to support such a powerful film from one of the country’s most gifted young filmmakers.”