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Pakistani Student’s Film About Climate Activist Wins First Prize At International Festival

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A Pakistani student at Manfield College Oxford University, Sarah Jehaan Khan, made a film about a young climate activist in Dir, Manal Shad and won the first prize at ‘Girls Impact the World Film Festival’ held in the US.

Sarah’s film Passoon (پاسون) is a short film based on a young climate activist in Dir, Manal Shad, whose video got viral when she tried to educate the men in Dir about the social issues in her town.

Passoon means to rise for a cause and that’s what Sarah’s film portrays. It documents indigenous and innovative sustainability methods from Pakistan and celebrates the leadership and the voice of the young Pakistani women that are conveniently overlooked as an international phenomenon, in the climate movement.

In an interview, Sarah told Dawn Images that as soon as she got in touch with Manal, she travelled to Dir and managed to find her and then spent some days at her home and visited her school where Passoon was filmed.

“Seeing the impact individuals such as Greta Thunberg have had, I felt it was equally important to amplify the voices of young climate activists from developing countries such as Pakistan,” she said.

Sarah chose to tell a story about climate change because she wanted to showcase the cost humans have to pay due to climate change and reveal how it poses a threat to basic human rights.

“Policy makers who watched my films said they had tears in their eyes, because they had never realised that increasing water scarcity means girls in developing countries cannot go to school since it is their job to fetch water everyday from miles away.”

Fortunately, Sarah speaks Pashto and had no language barriers and could really connect with Manal and her family, which translated very well on screen too.

Although proud of her win, the greatest joy this prize brought to Sarah was that she was able to amplify the voices of young climate activists leading indigenous movements. She sees this win as an important lesson on how film and stories can impact people’s lives.

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