Seemab Gul’s SANDSTORM 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. Academy Winner (Skin) Jamie Ray Newman and Jemima Khan board this important film as Executive producers.
SANDSTORM has qualified to be considered for the 95th Academy Awards® after winning the top awards at Rhode Island and HollyShorts Film Festivals. SANDSTORM can soon be seen at Calgary International Film Festival from 22nd September to 2nd October.
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.
Executive producer Jaime Ray Newman, gained acclaim as an actress in high-profile projects including Hulu’s Emmy nominated DOPESICK, LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE and upcoming THE BIG CIGAR for Apple, is equally known for her work producing films with social impact at their core, including the short film ‘SKIN’ which she and filmmaker Guy Nattiv won the Academy Award for in 2019, and the feature film SKIN directed by Nattiv which premiered at 2018 Toronto International Film Festival where it won the Fipresci Prize. Jamie shares “Seemab Gul has crafted a beautiful, moving piece of art that in only 20 minutes thrusts you into the nuanced life of what young women around the world must endure in restrictive societies. As the mother of two small daughters, I know how lucky they are to live in a country that allows them freedom of expression, but I also know how easily those rights can be taken away. SANDSTORM is a quiet, moving battle cry, a film that must be seen around the world and I am honored to come on board.”
Jemima Khan is a British screenwriter and independent TV, film and documentary producer and founder of Instinct Productions. She produced the Emmy and Golden Globe nominated 10-part FX drama series IMPEACHMENT: AMERICAN CRIME STORY. She also executive produced the Emmy-nominated HBO/Sky Atlantic docuseries THE CASE AGAINST ADNAN SYED, as well as the award-winning A&E docuseries THE CLINTON AFFAIR and the BAFTA-nominated feature documentary WE CAN STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS. She has also written and produced a feature film, WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? for Working Title and StudioCanal, starring Lily James, Shazad Latif and Emma Thompson, which premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival. The film opens in UK cinemas on January 27, 2023. She previously worked as a journalist and as European editor-at-large for Vanity Fair, and associate editor for The New Statesman.
Director, writer and co-producer Seemab Gul is a Pakistani artist and filmmaker based in London with a BA in Fine Art and an MA in Filmmaking from the London Film School. Her films interweave documentary and fictional elements to explore social-political stories and often focus on the outsider experience. Her award-winning short film SANDSTORM (Mulaqat) premiered at the 78th Venice International Film Festival and at Sundance Film Festival 2022. It won the Grand Prize at the RIIFF 2022 and Best Live Action award at HollyShorts Film Festival amongst many other awards.
Producer Abid Aziz Merchant is based in Karachi, Pakistan. Under the banner of Sanat Initiative, Abid ventured into film production with his first feature I’LL MEET YOU THERE (Grand Jury Award Nominee SXSW 2020). He has produced several short films including 1978, THE END and SANDSTORM (MULAQAT). In Pakistan, the film industry is in its revival phase & Abid aims to bring original and meaningful stories to an audience that clearly seeks engaging content.
The sensitive and wonderful cinematography was created by Alberto Balazs.
Upcoming festivals and Screenings
Edinburgh Short Film Festival 2022, Scotland (Official Selection) Edinburgh from 28 October to 13 November
Festival Int. De Cine Invisible Film Sozialak 2022, Spain (Official Selection) Bilbao from 13-20 October 2022
Kaohsiung Film Festival 2022, Taiwan (Official Selection) Kaohsiung from 14-30 October
FILMETS Badalona Film Festival 2022, Spain (Official Selection) Badalona from 21-30 October
Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2022, UK (Official Selection) 1 – 6 November, York – 1 – 30
Aaretaler Kurzfilmfestival 2022, Switzerland (Official Selection) 4-6 November 2022
Denver Film Festival 2022, US (Official Selection) Denver 2-13 November 2022
International Short Film Festival Berlin 2022, Germany (Official Selection) Berlin from 15 to 20 November 2022
25th Short Film Night in Lausanne 2022, Switzerland Lausanne, 19 November
20minmax Int. Short Film Festival 2022, Germany (Official Selection) Ingolstadt from 18 -25 November 2022